Why AnyList Is Not Available For Apple Watch At Launch

Posted by Jeff Hunter on April 23, 2015

Many people have been asking us about our plans for Apple Watch, given its imminent release. We decided not to create an Apple Watch app prior to its launch, and would like to explain our reasoning.

Design Challenges

Both Jason and I worked at Apple during the development of the iPad. We remember well the dramatic difference between using a simulated iPad on a Mac and using a real iPad for the first time while sitting on a couch.

Steve Jobs Using an iPad

Using real hardware in a realistic setting made you keenly aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the iPad, and provided a much better understanding of how to design useful software for the device.

We preordered Apple Watches the instant they were available, and are eager to get a feel for the everyday experience of using the device. This will help us answer critical design questions like these:

  • If you’re walking around a supermarket with a shopping basket in one hand, and trying to tap a small target on a 38mm tall device at the same time, how accurate can you be?
  • Will it be difficult or unwieldy to scroll a list with dozens of items to the one you want to cross off?
  • After you cross off an item and lower your wrist to walk around the store, when you raise your wrist to cross off the next item, will your watch still be showing AnyList? Will we need to recommend that you change system settings on your watch so that AnyList will still be visible?

The answers to questions like these will help guide us in building a useful and elegant Apple Watch app.

Engineering Challenges

Building high quality software for a hardware platform that you can’t use is very difficult. The behavior of a simulator doesn’t always match the behavior of a real device. Something may perform very well in a simulator on your Mac, but perform horribly on the actual device. The Apple developer forums are filled with posts from developers who have had their Apple Watch apps rejected for performance problems and crashes which they cannot reproduce, since they do not have Apple Watches.

By waiting until we have devices on our wrists, we’ll be better able to ensure a quality experience when using AnyList with Apple Watch.

Business Challenges

It appears that the Apple Watch will be in short supply initially, with ship times currently pushed into June. In the best case, it’s going to take awhile before a significant fraction of our customers have Apple Watches. While the prospect of working on support for a revolutionary new platform is extremely exciting to us, given all of the challenges above, we felt that it was a better use of our time for the last few months to stay focused on improving our core app in ways that have the potential to benefit everyone who is already using AnyList.

Can I use Apple Watch with AnyList now?

Yes, if you’d like to add items to a list. AnyList integrates with Siri, and you can use Siri on the Apple Watch.

Will an AnyList app be available for Apple Watch in the future?

Almost certainly. We have watches on preorder and have many ideas for Apple Watch integration. We’ll evaluate those ideas once we have our watches on our wrists. We hope the Apple Watch will be a smashing success and look forward to building a useful and elegant Apple Watch app in the future.

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