xCode for iPad – Playgrounds sounds like a good start, but how about Apple Watch development?

Ever since the iPad Pro was introduced, rumors about xCode for iPad have been circling the internet. WWDC 2016 is almost here and I really hope something related to app development on the iPad will be shown¹.

I want to write Swift on my iPad!

Based on said rumors, this wish might be granted, soon. Scuttlebutt is, that Playgrounds was chosen as initial step to introduce software development to the tablet. I understand that porting the full version of xCode is a lot to ask, so I’ll be thankfull for any step to just get the ball rolling. But how about this:

Why not start by making it possible to develop Apple Watch apps on iPad?

Due to hardware limitations, there is not much that can be done with Apple Watch². This translates to what is available in xCode on the Mac for watch development: not much. There is classic coding, some storyboarding, assets management.

The idea is to make these few things available in an xCode for iPad port.

Starting June 1st, watch apps will be required to be stand-alone. So there will be no need to develop an iPhone companion. Well, installation is currently still done through the related iPhone app. But this could be solved with an independent App Store section for the watch. Accessible either through the Apple Watch app on iPhone/iPad or directly on the watch via app.

A simulator on the iPad would be nice. It is not necessary, but always welcome for xCode on the Mac. Hardware-wise, the A9X and its successors should hopefully have no problem simulating the S1, S2, S.. There is also, nowadays, RAM aplenty.

Alternatively, while only iPhones currently communicate with Apple Watch, one could imagine that the iPad builds and sends apps to a connected Apple Watch for testing.

I know these words are easier to write than they are to implement. But making watch development available for iPads could IMHO increase the interest in the platform. I think Apple Watch is still missing so-called „killer apps“. While the design is more than intriguing, it was not enough a reason for me to buy one. Yet I see lots of potential and I trust that developers will find use cases. We just need to start trying. Being able to do so on an iPad would, at least for me, function as a good motivator.

  1. I have been a fan of this idea ever since I played with Codea on my iPad 2. While AppStore restrictions prohibited classic IDE’s to be offered, Two Lives Left – the developer of Codea – built their environment on the Lua scripting language, which was allowed. While Codea is a nice solution to get some mobile programming going, I would really like the restrictions to be lifted (softened?).
  2. Don’t get me wrong, I love limitations. They spur creativity.
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