Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

This Week's Sponsor

End users aren't your enemy! Kolide gets users to fix their own device compliance problems–and unsecure devices can't log in. Click here to learn how.

By Dan Moren

New watch apps must be native as of June 1

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

Speaking of the Apple Watch as it enters its second year, a developer note from Apple posted on Friday says that all new watchOS apps must be native, as of June 1. That means no more apps that essentially run on the iPhone while displaying on the Watch. In theory, that should mean faster apps, though even native apps aren’t particularly fast on the Apple Watch.

Native apps were introduced in watchOS 2—prior to that, all third-party apps used the iPhone to the heavy lifting. This certainly lends credence to the theory that the Apple Watch is slated to get more independence from the iPhone, especially with the change coming less than two weeks before this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference.

But it’s going to take more than a shift to native apps to make the Apple Watch more compelling as a platform for apps; personally, I can count the number of programs I use regularly on my Watch on probably one or two fingers. Until Watch apps are faster than pulling out my iPhone and getting the same information there, they’re mostly a non-starter; but perhaps if rumors of cellular networking are true, Apple is banking on people leaving the house with just their Watch. Of course, then you run into questions of speed and battery life. In short: there are a lot of problems Apple needs to solve for the Watch going into its second year, and requiring native apps are just the tip of the iceberg.

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is now available for pre-order.]

If you appreciate articles like this one, support us by becoming a Six Colors subscriber. Subscribers get access to an exclusive podcast, members-only stories, and a special community.

Search Six Colors