Creating an Effective watchOS Experience

Develop a complete watch experience that emphasizes brief interactions and presents the right information at exactly the right time.


Apple Watch provides easy access to vital information right on the user’s wrist. The watchOS experience focuses on quick actions that achieve useful tasks through brief, punctuated interactions.

On Apple Watch, keep user interactions as short as possible. Make sure your users can see vital information at a glance, respond with just a few taps, and then drop their wrist and move on. They don’t need to wait to see if the action succeeds; instead, the watchOS app automatically notifies them of any important updates.

To achieve this level of integration, you must use a variety of technologies to communicate and interact with the user:

  • The watchOS app serves as the foundation for a user’s watch experience. Users can launch and interact with your app directly. However, the main app interface isn’t necessarily the primary way users interact with your app. Users often prefer to interact through complications or notifications, and may never explicitly launch your app.

  • Complications provide small glimpses into your app’s data directly on the watch face. Users can add complications to most watch faces, but space is limited. Design complications to show information that is timely, up-to-date, and useful. Users can also launch the watchOS app quickly and easily by tapping the complication. For more information, see Adding a Complication to Your watchOS App.

  • Notifications alert users of significant events that they can respond to directly without opening your app. You can use either local or remote notifications to communicate with the user, even when your app isn’t running. For more information, see Adding Notifications to Your watchOS App.

  • Siri can provide an integral part of the Apple Watch experience. With SiriKit Intents, users can control your app with their voice. Similarly, your app can donate shortcuts to the system that appear on the Siri watch face. For more information, see Creating an Intents App Extension, and Defining Relevant Shortcuts for Your App.

For watchOS, expect to spend more time planning, designing, and refining your app’s experience than writing the actual code. For guidance on designing for Apple Watch, see the Apple Watch Human Interface Guidelines. Then consider each of the above technologies as you create your experience for watchOS.

See Also


Creating Independent watchOS Apps

Set up a watchOS app that installs and runs without an iOS companion app.

Building watchOS App Interfaces with SwiftUI

Create your app’s user interface by programmatically composing single-responsibility views.

Creating a watchOS App with SwiftUI

Use common SwiftUI elements and watch-specific features in a comprehensive sample app.