The Apple Watch has been on many people’s minds for months now, particularly those working at companies that are keen to release their apps on Apple’s first ever wearable device.
A host of apps will be available to download at launch but surprisingly the vast majority of them have been built by developers that are yet to pick up the elusive smart watch.
One Apple Watch app that has been developed in the dark as it were is hotel search app Top10, which was founded by three Cambridge University graduates in 2011.
Harry Jones, cofounder and chief product officer at Top10, told Techworld: “Designing for Apple Watch has been a unique experience, as, for the first time (for Apple), developers have had no hardware to test on and have been developing ‘in the dark’.
“What’s been so exciting - but slightly nerve-wracking - is that there are no best practices or precedents for such a new product. The result is that developers have to step outside of their comfort zone and innovate, which will ultimately lead to better experiences for users.”
Like many others, Top10 was forced to come up with new working practices for developing apps.
“To help understand the physical properties of Apple Watch we created paper prototypes that we could wear on our wrists, and to prototype interfaces we used iPhones, as they have a similar resolution to the watch display,” said Jones. “Although Apple Watch represents one of the most high-tech products available, we often had to resort to very low-tech methods.”
Jones added that it’s been particularly hard trying to understand how people will use the Apple Watch when they have it on their wrist.
“While people might interact with hotel booking apps on a phone for several minutes, we expect watch interactions to last just a few seconds,” said Jones. “For Top10, this meant immediately presenting hotels available around the user, so no set-up or filtering is required.”
The Top10 iPhone app displays multiple hotels at a time but Jones said he and the team decided to go with showing just one app at a time on the Apple Watch, due to the limited screen space.
“As a British startup, we are a bit more removed from the Silicon Valley scene where Apple is based,” Jones said. “However there is a great design and development community in London, and Apple in the UK have been really supportive and helpful of developers here.”
The Top10 app has caught the eye of some of the world's biggest investors. To date, the team has raised a total of $12m (£8 million) from Accel Partners, Balderton Capital, and other angel investors including Shakil Khan.