Illustration of two sizes of Apple watch. Both display various UI elements in shades of blue that suggest the process of layout design.

Getting Started

The watchOS app experience differs from app experiences on other platforms in two primary ways:

  • Apple Watch is designed to be worn, so the UI is attuned to wearers and gives them an experience that’s lightweight, responsive, and highly personal.

  • People frequently use a watchOS app’s related experiences — such as complications, notifications, and Siri interactions — more than they use the app itself.

Creating a great watchOS experience means designing both the app and the quick, information-rich elements that let people access your content in ways that work for them. The most useful apps typically:

  • Use a complication to provide a small, potentially dynamic piece of information right on the watch face where people can view it at a glance
  • Use notifications to deliver timely, high-value information and enable important actions
  • Help people use Siri to get information and perform tasks
  • If necessary, provide more details and functionality in the app experience

Design Fundamentals

As you begin designing your watchOS experience, consider the following fundamentals.

Target a single feature or task. When you keep your experience tightly focused on an essential task, and display only the most relevant and actionable information, you give people the content they need every time they raise their wrist.

Enable quick interactions. Interactions with Apple Watch are measured in seconds, so your app must quickly give people the information they care about the most. Aim to present critical items in quick, glanceable interfaces, such as complications and notifications.

Design and build for independence. An independent watchOS app doesn't need to interact with a companion iOS app, so people can install and use the watchOS app even when their iPhone isn’t nearby. In watchOS 6 and later, you can design a watchOS app that’s available only on Apple Watch, or you can design an app that complements — but doesn’t require — your iPhone app.