Jeff Kelley’s new book is short. How short? Under a hundred pages short. That’s because it’s part of Pragmatic Programmer’s new Pragmatic exPress series. Developing for the Apple Watch ($11 Ebook $17 Paper, $27 Combo) offers exactly what it says on the label, a quick, focused take on Watch development.
With only 100 pages to worry about, this is a terrific series for getting information to the market quickly and effectively. I love how Pragmatic is pivoting to handle Apple’s quick-change reality.
As for this book, there’s a lot to like (and a few tiny quibbles I didn’t care for). The table of contents hits all the sweet spots you’d expect for the topic. I like how Kelley organized his material, guiding you from over the core details of writing extensions, developing the UI, adding tables, and communicating with outside services.
I particularly liked the little chapter (just 7 pages!) called Quick Apple Watch Wins. It offers a really satisfying “just do this” taste of media playback and notifications.
The entire book is written in Swift, which I think is another wise move. Although Objective-C remains a more stable platform, readers really seem to want Swift content. Whether they’re already developing in Swift or just purchasing aspirationally, Swift seems to be language they want to use to communicate.
One thing I didn’t love (and this is because of OCD pedanticism) is Kelley’s use of we-voice, which drives me nuts. The writing is competent. It’s just a style I don’t particularly love reading.
Let’s get something more complicated done. We’re going to link these UI elements to our code, starting with the button, so that tapping the button has an effect in our app. We want to call a method in our code when the user taps the button, at which time we’ll change the text of the label.
For another, the examples in the UI discussion felt slighted by the quick coverage. The interfaces are fine and basic but it would have been nice to see some more examples that demonstrated the concepts he discussed.
Kelley says to use images and color effectively (“Another trick to making a great UI is to take advantage of images.” and “Another factor in making great-looking watch apps is effective use of color and type.“). I would have liked to see an image gallery of do’s and don’ts that concretely demonstrated these visual ideas instead of just including these vague suggestions as text.
Apart from these complaints, I really did enjoy my quick read. I’ve only superficially messed with WatchKit. Developing for Apple Watch: Your App on Their Wrists makes me want to clear up some time to dive in more deeply.