WWDC 2019 - Apple Watch with Gary Sabo

WWDC 2019 - Apple Watch with Gary Sabo

In this episode we talk with Gary Sabo about the Apple Watch post-WWDC 2019. We talk about Independent Watch Apps, Swift UI and watchOS 6, HealthKit, Fitness apps and more.


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Thoughts on WWDC

Independent Apple Watch Apps

  • Why does Apple Watch apps need iPhone app counterparts?
  • iPhone Counterparts of Apple Watch workout apps are for visualization
  • Slow Deprecation of WatchConnectivity
  • How do you syncing certain data between Apple Watch and iPhone?
    • HealthKit ,StoreKit, etc…
  • What’s the position of the iPhone in the future with AR and the Apple Watch?
  • SwiftUI on the Apple Watch
  • The new Apple Watch App Store

Where’s the Focus of the Apple Watch

  • Health and Fitness - Niche Fitness
  • Advanced Notifications
  • Location Tracking - GPS and Indoor Positioning System (Indoor GPS)
  • Accessibility and Haptic Feedback
  • More Sensors in the Future?

Maturity of HealthKit

  • Lacking Inability to Edit
  • Apple Partnering with Health Companies
  • Allowing HealthKit on iPad and macOS?

Social Media

Complete Transcription

Leo Dion (Host): Hey Gary, how's it going? 

[00:00:01] Gary Sabo (Guest): Doing well, Leo, how are you doing? 

[00:00:02] Leo Dion (Host): Good. Good. So what were your thoughts from WWDC? 

[00:00:07] Gary Sabo (Guest): Boy, so much. I think like a lot of people, just my immediate reaction was this with UI. I didn't hear rumors. I mean, I heard maybe I heard something about, you know, declarative framework, but I didn't expect that.

[00:00:18] And sort of the, what seems to be the eventual abandonment of the storyboard. So yeah, that was the biggest shock to me. 

[00:00:26] Leo Dion (Host): We had some rumors about like declarative programming. I think Gruber had talked about that, but people were just kind of like, not making it as big of a deal about it because I think everybody was like marzipan, marzipan, marzipan.

[00:00:38] Right. And then it's like the project catalyst is kind of an afterthought. It's like, Holy crap, they're replacing the entire UI. Framework UI kit. I think it's still vibrant. I don't think it's dead by any means, because they've made some major improvements. It looks like to the way table views and even more so collection views are done, but you can kind of see the writings on the 

[00:01:01] Gary Sabo (Guest): wall.

[00:01:02] Leo Dion (Host): Yeah, it's like Swift. It's like Swift four years or a . It's like, yeah, I mean objective is going to be here for awhile. It's going to be forever, quite frankly. But like that's called Swift UI. It's not called objective-C UI for specific reason. 

[00:01:18] Gary Sabo (Guest): Right. And obviously companies have existing code bases, and if you were just starting out today, I still don't think I'd dive into Swift UI yet.

[00:01:27] You know, companies are going to need to support their existing projects for years, 

[00:01:31] Leo Dion (Host): and somebody who's been playing around with it for two weeks. Yeah. Don't. I don't suggest jumping into it right now. 

[00:01:38] Gary Sabo (Guest): Yeah. And it's still in beta, so keep that in mind as well. 

[00:01:42] Leo Dion (Host): Very much so. Yeah. It was a big year. It's probably the biggest WWDC since Swift was introduced.

[00:01:49] We can safely say. 

[00:01:50] Gary Sabo (Guest): I haven't gotten through all the talks. There's a github repo that I found or came across that kind of lists bullet points of the talks just so you don't have to invest the full 40 minutes. You can kind of just see if it's what you're interested in. So I've been going through that and just, I've been starting with obviously the ones that are most near and dear to me, like the WatchKit the Healthkit.

[00:02:11] But yeah, it seems like there's a lot to unpack. The combine is another thing there. Their foundation API. I didn't have a chance to watch that one yet either. And just like you said, Swift UI, there's I think five or six talks just on that, you know, and integration and stuff like that. 

[00:02:27] Leo Dion (Host): Yeah. Post the link to that git hub repo. It'd be great to share. There was a git hub repo that had a list of Swift UI, a blog posts and tutorials. I mean, I know folks like Ray Wenderlich, paul Hudson already has like put some books they are pre-selling on it, but, there's some really great like tutorials there too that we can post those links in the notes.

[00:02:50] Gary Sabo (Guest): Okay. 

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[00:03:20] One thing I wanted to talk about was, I think as two male developers we don't appreciate is like this new cycle tracking  feature. I think that's a big deal to a lot of folks, especially women. Cause I know like my wife and I just take it personal we dealt with infertility for about five years and we had like these stickers and like a binder, like a whole whole kit to track this stuff.

[00:03:49] And it was a pain in the neck. And then my wife, you know, who's probably not as techie as I am pretty techie, found this really great app. And she used it for a while, and then we had found that the app ended up getting taken down because of it was using the system with the same name and they didn't like that.

[00:04:09] So the, the folks who have that tracking system ended up giving them like a takedown notice and it really sucked. So,  it's really good that Apple has kind of like jumped in and kickstarted this stuff. Because I think it's going to help a lot of people, not just going to infertility, but for a variety of reasons or health reasons that women have.

[00:04:30] Gary Sabo (Guest): It's that classic, you know, Apple Sherlocking someone, right? And it sucks if you're the developer, but usually as when Apple chooses to take something into their space, it's usually benefits, you know, obviously asked the consumer so. 

[00:04:44] Leo Dion (Host): Yeah. Like I think with a lot of sherlocking stuff, it's inevitable. Like anybody who builds a business around an action under sand, like Apple could always Sherlock it.

[00:04:53] It's about making yourself valuable enough that folks who are really into it, like they're going to download one of your great workout apps or they're going to download one of the Dave Smith's workout apps or something like that because it takes it to the next level. Whereas like Apple stuff is quite frankly, free.

[00:05:13] I think it also just gives some guidance to developers like, Oh, that's pretty cool. You can do this, and built on top of it. 

[00:05:20] Gary Sabo (Guest): It's finding a niche that you know, in the space it like, just for example, like one of my apps HockeyTracker, I mean, conceivably Apple could have, some sort of custom hockey tracking part of their workout app.

[00:05:32] And I mean, my thought is mine goes down to the level that it, like tracks shifts during the hockey game. So like, you know, it knows whether you're on the bench or whether you're on the ice and then puts that number tells you how many shifts you had and what you know with the lengths were and things like that.

[00:05:48] It's kind of that level of detail that you think might be too, too zoomed in for an Apple app, which, knock on wood makes me think that I'm safe with that app but,I know what you're saying. And the other one too, isn't at some point, I think they're taking on sleep tracking. 

[00:06:05] Leo Dion (Host): Oh yeah, for sure. I think that's definitely down the line.

[00:06:08] Either they're gonna, what do they call it, acqui-hire one of the great apps, or they're going to just make one their own. 

[00:06:14] Gary Sabo (Guest): Yeah. Which makes total sense. I mean, obviously the watch, I mean, that's, I think that's one of the key. Probably use cases people use it for. 

[00:06:22] Leo Dion (Host): Yeah. I use one. I think they're really helpful.

[00:06:25] Yeah. It's just a matter of understanding of that as part of part of your business. So maybe now's a good opportunity Gary for you to introduce yourself. What, what's your specialty when it comes to the Apple Watch and health kit and workouts? Sure. 

[00:06:42] Gary Sabo (Guest): I began in 2014. Right. I'm self taught. So traditionally, I'm an attorney and when school would be an attorney, went to law school, but I'm self taught programmer.

[00:06:51] So when Swift was announced, that's when I jumped in. I had a little bit of coding experience before then, but that was really when I started building apps and, um, you know, releasing products into the store. And over time  basically just because I had ideas, I had their existing things that I wanted to do with my phone that they weren't possible.

[00:07:09] So I thought, well, I'll figure out how to do it in building myself and you know, how my own need and then maybe if somebody else is interested, you know, make a dollar or two. So over time I built a, some weather apps and apps on top of the Pinterest SDK a game based on the Twilight zone. 

[00:07:25] I'm a hockey player and I think it was maybe two, two and a half years ago. I didn't even think about, you know, using my, I, I've had the Apple Watch series zero, but I never really thought about using it in hockey. And then one of my teammates was using it in the locker room and said that, Oh yeah, you could just start, you know, an Apple, an Apple Watch workout app.

[00:07:46] And then at the end of it, you could label it as hockey. Which to me, you know, it was just kind of a generic workout and then you just kind of name it hockey. And I was like, Hmm, I wonder if, um, you know, there's some space to build a custom hockey app. 

[00:08:02] So it's the best thing I did, which really helped me was I posted in a hockey player Reddit and said, Hey, you know, I'm gonna, I'm an iOS developer, I've done watch app development before, and I had this idea and I got a lot of support from that community, and I was able to build a beta version of the app and then use those same Reddit members to transition them into a Slack community where, you know, they're able to like, you know, give me feature ideas or give me feedback.

[00:08:32] And to this day I still, you know, when I make a change in that app, I'll put up a poll on the Slack and have them vote on it. So it's usually driven. And so that's really been my focus the last two years. That hockey tracker app is kind of my flagship. Um, I've also done one for soccer, so it's soccer tracker, and I'm just most recently another app called sex tracker, which is kind of the same, along the same lines as tracking your metrics or VOT max and heart rates and that, but for instance, intimacy.

[00:09:03] Leo Dion (Host): Interesting. Is it mostly branding that separates the apps, or is it, what are some of the specific features that each app might have? 

[00:09:15] Gary Sabo (Guest): Well, yeah, good example. So for example, in hockey, you know, you had this concept of a shift and then you also, over time, I think there are eight or nine different session types.

[00:09:26] So. You know, you could use it as a goalie, you could use it per pick up for an open scape. There's a coach mode. Um, there's a rough mode. And then you also, my focus of each of these apps have always been health and fitness and metrics, but you could also add your score, score the game, how many goals you scored, how many assists, if you're a goalie, how many shots against, and those sorts of things.

[00:09:48] And then there's a note section. Yeah. I mean, the biggest thing is just, you know, hockey is kind of. The algorithms that I built and everything are geared toward, you know, being on the ice. Again, the shifts where as soccer is, you know, more toward running. You don't have shifts. Some of them are the same. I mean, they track distance, they track speed.

[00:10:08] I try to do a lot with heart rates. One of the big things, the big features over the past, well I would say six months that I added is an effort level that's based on your time spent in the various heart rate zones. So if like if my max heart rate is, say 190. And you know, I've spend, so some of my top zone might be, you know, 170 to 190 and if I spend more time in that zone during the course of a game than my effort level is higher and things like that.

[00:10:39] I mean, you know, there are only so many metrics you have. It's just different ways of sort of packaging them and sort of analyzing that data for the user. 

[00:10:48] Leo Dion (Host): Very cool. Yeah. I feel like there's so much potential with, with HealthKit and workout stuff. It's interesting the story with the Apple Watch being, we've gone from sending your friends heart rates and heart rates, but what was it called?

[00:11:04] I can't remember. Like your your  heart beating to like. Now it's pretty much predominantly a workout app or workout device, I should say, and it's, it seems like Apple is really starting to focus on that. Um, I made the leap. I foolishly made the leap to iOS 13 and watch OS 6 week on my primary devices.

[00:11:29] So I'm a fool don't do that. 

[00:11:30] Gary Sabo (Guest): Does it seem stable so far?

[00:11:33] Leo Dion (Host): Yeah, it seems fine. iOS 13 is by no means perfect, but there, there's almost an enough issues in iOS 12 where it's like, how bad can it be? And I'd already put it on my iPads and my spare iPhone and I didn't have any major issues, so I was like, you know what?

[00:11:50] I'm just going to put it on the primary device. Let's just, usually it's not that big of a deal and it hasn't been, so now, yesterday I was just playing around on the watch. They have that noise detection feature which is really cool, like I don't know if you know what I'm talking about, but where like it'll detect if it's too loud.

[00:12:10] And if it is too loud, it, it will let you know, uh, so that you don't damage your hearing over the longterm. That's a pretty sweet feature. Like I'm amazed that they'd finally, you know, it was like, I wish I had thought of that. So, yeah. And it, to me, just looking at some of the stuff with WWDC, I think the other thing that the writing is on the wall is that the watch is going to be an independent device. 

[00:12:38] I don't know what your thoughts are, but it seems like that's where we're going, especially with the way we're trying to no longer do you have to have watch app  packaged as a iOS app extension, but now it can be packaged as a separate app and now you got the app store on the watch and things like that.

[00:12:56] Gary Sabo (Guest): Yeah. But as far as the, um, the independent watch apps. Yeah. I mean, that's what I've really been thinking about that for the past few weeks and what that means and what type of opportunities that's going to present. I think just my existing apps and what they do might not be a great use case because.

[00:13:15] You know, they track, they use the watch to track and get your raw data, and they do display some UI. But then the iPhone is just a bigger screen and there's so much room to present, like we just talked about, you know, these charts of data. So I'm not sure that like those health and fitness apps are the best example.

[00:13:33] But one thing that immediately came to mind is one of my first ever apps was um. a commission, like I do real estate law, so a commission calculator for a real estate agent because, um, it was just a simple app, but you know where you type in the sales price and it tells you, okay, well the split with the buyer agent is maybe 3.5 and then maybe you pay a 20% referral to another agent and then maybe you're split with your broker is 50% and I actually had to, this was the first iteration of the watch, but actually had to build a calculator actually via the emoji digits and that's, yeah, that's how I ended up building it. But you know, I got it working and everything on the watch and then I was like, Oh, well to ship this, I had to build this kind of, you know, just generic iPhone app and basically do the same thing that, you know, it wasn't even the point of the app.

[00:14:22] The point was to have it on your watch. So something like that. It was a great example where, you know,  I probably spent another week building the iPhone part of it that you wouldn't even need now. 

[00:14:33] Leo Dion (Host): Yeah, I totally agree. I think when it comes to fitness apps, the watch is exclusively used for tracking and maybe like sending up a workout.

[00:14:42] Well, a lot of the features of a typical workout or health app come from the fact that you can visualize it on the actual phone, because again, you can't really look at your reports on a, on a watch very easily. So yeah, I totally agree with that. It's also interesting with me trying to make the watch independent.

[00:15:00] They're kind of not deprecating watch connectivity, but more like saying, you really don't need it, I don't if they're trying to get you to kind of use cloud kit or some other server apparatus to communicate with the phone. Was that your impression? 

[00:15:21] Gary Sabo (Guest): Yeah, that I had heard that as well.

[00:15:24] So maybe it's just implied. You know, that if you have an independent watch Apple, you wouldn't need to call out to the phone. To me, the devil is going to have to be in the details of that. A quick example is my apps. Um, if you, for whatever reason, I'm sure, I'm sure there's a reason, um, as far as CPU use or something like that.

[00:15:44] But if you query HealthKit on the watch for the user's body mass. You only get anything they've entered within the past seven days. You queried on the watch you get, I mean, on the iPhone, you get as far back as HealthKit started. I use that. I use that body mass and some of my calculations. So that's an area where I use watch connectivity because I have to call out, you know, wake up the phone.

[00:16:08] Make the phone query for the body mass and then send it back to the watch. So you know for them, for them to deprecate watch connectivity. For me, they need to update HealthKit to be able to make that full, you know, HealthKit call. 

[00:16:22] Leo Dion (Host): Yeah, that's a really good point. Like how I think HealthKit, I'm first trying to think what else.

[00:16:27] But what other API APIs you'd want to directly connect with the iPhone with? But it seems like HealthKit would be the primary one where it's like the HealthKit data on the watch and the HealthKit data on the phone are not in sync. 

[00:16:39] Gary Sabo (Guest): Right. Something else that came to mind. My apps currently don't do this, but if you want to put your watch up behind the paywall, there is no StoreKit on the watch.

[00:16:48] So if you want to check whether someone's, um, subscription-based app, whether they. Their subscriptions expired or, or not. Um, you need to use watch connectivity can be to that to call out to the phone and parse the receipt or something like that. 

[00:17:04] Leo Dion (Host): Yeah, there you go. Yeah, and I'm sure there's going to be a ton of other API APIs we haven't even thought of where it's like you pretty much need direct connection to the phone.

[00:17:13] Right. What I'm going to guess is at some point they're just going to add an API to HealthKit or StoreKit so that you can do that stuff directly on the watch. One of the other things I could see is how paranoid they kind of are about battery usage. I could see that being an issue because if you need to work directly connect with the server or to the cloud, you're going to need, it's going to need to use the wifi or cell connection in order to do that.

[00:17:41] And you can't just depend on Bluetooth for it, which I'm assuming that's what they want most apps to do is they'd rather they directly use bluetooth as often as they can, just to say battery, essentially. 

[00:17:54] Gary Sabo (Guest): Yeah, I agree. And I think, I mean, is it, is it realistic to think of the watches as an independent, you know, an independent device that would substitute and iPhone, you know, I mean, maybe you, you know, maybe in the future we'll have iPads where, you know, when we don't want to scroll through Instagram, but maybe, you know, Siri and, um, maybe, you know, the watch plus AirPods you know, would be robust enough that you could basically use voice dictation to basically do you know all the commands and all the input with text fields that you would normally do on your iPhone. 

[00:18:31] Leo Dion (Host): I think that's where they liked that the direction to go, whether it's there now. Yeah. I'm not so sure.

[00:18:37] But I could, I know there'd be people, no, like I could see kids especially being like just giving them a watch that no iPhone and doing it that way. It's sort of like an iPod touch substitute in a lot of ways. 

[00:18:50] Gary Sabo (Guest): Yeah. I have told people that that I think 50 years from now will be looked back, is the generation that always, you know, had our head head down looking at our phone and cause I think when you know glasses are finally a thing and it just going to seem that we were cave men, the way we walk around looking at our friends, 

[00:19:09] Leo Dion (Host): Like look a like one of those like 80s shows where they have like the big ginormous, a satellite phone in the car. 

[00:19:18] yeah, and I think like especially with the class is like the other thing, like totally outside of the subject of the Apple Watch, but like the other Friday on the wall is like ARKit, ARKit or like the constantly want to talk about that every year.

[00:19:33] You can  kind of tell like glasses or some sort of augmented reality display is on their horizon at some point. 

[00:19:41] Gary Sabo (Guest): Yeah. I think a lot of us as iOS developers, I mean, I know I haven't delved into ARKit too much, but I think we're always kind of keeping it in the back of our heads because as soon as they announced the glasses, then there's going to be this huge opportunity and we're all going to become, you know, AR experts.

[00:19:59] Leo Dion (Host): Exactly. Yeah. I think the other thing, um, speaking of Swift UI, which is kind of the elephant in the room when it comes to WWDC, is, uh, looking at like the use cases of SwiftUI. I don't think. Like we've kind of discussed SwiftUI isn't perfect everywhere, but where I think it's a really good fit is on the watch.

[00:20:19] Like I think that is probably, if you're going to develop a watch app and you're going to develop a UI and almost seems like SwiftUI would be the first place to start and rather than like a lot of people want to just jump to the Mac and build their perfect Mac app in SwiftUI using Catalyst. I think honestly like Swifty wise, a good fit for the watch if there's anywhere else. 

[00:20:40] Gary Sabo (Guest): That's what I was thinking too. It seems as far as the first place that you would want to like demo it, I think it would be a watch app to kind of reminds me of the stack view. If you remember how the stack view kind of started in WatchKit and then it was ported over to the iPhone.

[00:20:56] Leo Dion (Host): Yeah, exactly. 

[00:20:57] Gary Sabo (Guest): The only thing that, and I'm sure I'm just, it's early days, but it's just hard to imagine. Given, you know, when you watch the demos, you know how it's going to be as customizable as storyboards are. I mean, storyboard is almost like having, you know, an art board and sketch. I mean, you could basically literally make it look like anything.

[00:21:18] Whereas it seems like the SwiftUI is pretty constrained. And again, I'm sure there's going to be a way, I just, I'm interested, how are we going to get there.

[00:21:26] Leo Dion (Host): Yeah. I'd almost say like the problem across the board with storyboards. Has it been that you can't do anything but more of the responsiveness and especially when you have like big development teams, the storyboards end up being kind of a pain in the neck.

[00:21:42] We did a podcast episodes a few weeks ago and it was the guys with test driven development and one of the terms that they kept using was source of true - source of truth. And it was funny cause then I watched WWDC and they're talking about SwiftUI and like they keep mentioning source of truth, and I was like, that's it.

[00:22:01] That we've talked about that. And like that's one of the issues was with storyboards is what you see is an exactly matching up with what. You're going to end up on your device. And like as far as like previews, I'm having issues right now, but obviously it's in beta. I think like that's where it's going to be super powerful is like your Declaritive UI is going to actually match up with what you see in the preview and it's actually going to match up with what you see on an actual device.

[00:22:28] I think that's where where the real, a lot of the benefits come from with SwiftUI like it's actually consistent. It actually works out. Whereas dealing with auto layout, dealing with size classes, there's always a little bit of ambiguity that something isn't going to work out quite like you'd thought.

[00:22:45] Gary Sabo (Guest): That was something else that maybe made sense to me. I have always heard, I've always heard, cause obviously I'm an independent developers. The storyboards for me are great, but in a team environment with merge conflicts and that sort of thing, that it can be tricky. But the other thing was, it makes sense to me.

[00:22:59] I don't, I don't know about you Leo, but just lately, maybe the past year or so, I mean I have a new Mac Book Pro with 32 gig of memory, but some of my complex iPhone UI, um, where I have, you know, maybe stack views embedded five or six deep and I get the beach ball. Just trying to move around the view. 

[00:23:19] Leo Dion (Host): Yup. Yeah. 

[00:23:20] Gary Sabo (Guest): I think maybe that's the other thing is that, you know, as, as we get even more complex than that, you're not gonna be able to do that. And that's where Swift UI maybe makes a lot more sense. 

[00:23:30] Leo Dion (Host): Yeah. And that was looking at somebody who has been testing out SwiftUI versus just doing direct cocoa touch stuff and like it is a lot faster based on some of the early stuff.

[00:23:41] It just seems like it's much better at handling that. I don't know if they've somehow integrated Metal in with it or what, but it seems like it's a lot more optimized as opposed to the storyboards and some of the other older stuff in UIKit, 

[00:23:54] Gary Sabo (Guest): which makes sense. I mean, right. Storyboards and interface builder date back to next. It's built in XML. Right? 

[00:24:04] Leo Dion (Host): Yeah. XML. Nobody has figured out how to crack. 

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[00:24:45] So what, like based on everything you saw at WWDC, what do you think is the difference or do you think there's been a big improvement or a bigger opportunity now to develop apps for the Apple Watch as opposed to like say a year or like two years ago?

[00:25:04] Gary Sabo (Guest): I think maybe the most interesting announcement was this Apple Watch App Store. And again, that's something that. Conceptually, I'm not sure how it will play out whether people will want to buy or, you know, maybe we'll be like, Message Apps and how that, I don't think that's really caught on the way Apple thought it would.

[00:25:20] I mean, as far as from a developers' perspective, I don't know about you, but just anecdotally. It seems like everywhere I go, no matter what generation, I've seen more and more Apple Watches. 

[00:25:31] Leo Dion (Host): Yes, that's definitely been the case over the last year or two. 

[00:25:34] Gary Sabo (Guest): Yeah, and I don't know what their sales numbers are, but it seems like they're doing well.

[00:25:40] Especially in the health and fitness. I mean, I think when, you know, when the Apple Watch originally came out, we didn't really understand how it was going to be used. We thought maybe we'd want to read tweets and read Instagram and read Facebook on it. Turned out that wasn't the case. It's just that we want, you know, we want notifications from it and we want to track our health and fitness.

[00:25:59] I mean, maybe there's, there's additional use cases that we're not thinking of. I think I'm fortunate in the health and fitness section/sector. You know that consumers are willing to download third party apps for the watch. But I know a lot of people who you know are not in none as much in the health and fitness.

[00:26:17] They're pretty happy with just the Apple Watches, some kind of stock apps. 

[00:26:22] Leo Dion (Host): Yeah, and I also think you get a lot with the existing iOS notifications on the Apple Watch that you almost don't need a lot of custom app as far as for notifications. 

[00:26:34] Gary Sabo (Guest): Right. But then, you know, thinking ahead now that you can build an independent watch app, you know, is there some use case and with SwiftUI, which is another thing to consider, I haven't played around with it yet on the watch, but it was a big limitation and not having like a core graphics and those sorts of API on the watch that you can make, you know, sort of the beautiful graphics that you could on the, on the iPhone. So. You know, with independent watch apps, is there some use case that is still yet to surface that we're not thinking of that will be an opportunity for developers? 

[00:27:08] Leo Dion (Host): Well, let's just look at like health care. Do you think that there's still a lot of room in health care and fitness for more apps? Obviously, like you've developed a set of apps for various specific workouts. Do you think that's going to continue to grow. 

[00:27:22] Gary Sabo (Guest): I think so. I mean, if just me personally, um, you know, and I have this line of track gaps, I would like to reach out and cover all the sports.

[00:27:31] I mean, I know there's existing, there's a very good tennis tracking app on the tennis player, and I know there are golf apps, but, um, I'm sure there's even more, you know, sort of obscure niche type sports. I mean, in fact, I think a buddy, a friend of mine showed me one for kayaking. It was a good looking, you know, dedicated app to track your kayaking on your watch. 

[00:27:54] Leo Dion (Host): that's awesome. 

[00:27:55] Gary Sabo (Guest): That's another thing is like, and I'm sure there's, you know, even sports more obscure than kayaking that I'm not thinking of, but when your market is in the world, who does that activity? You know? I'm sure there's an opportunity there, 

[00:28:09] Leo Dion (Host): And with more and more owners of the Apple Watch, you're going to find a cross section of folks who are owners of the Apple Watch can play those obscure sports we don't think about 

[00:28:19] Gary Sabo (Guest): Exactly like, another area I would like to get into next is, you know, football, lacrosse, those types of sports. But yeah, that's probably. Yeah, more resolution I guess is how I look at that. You know, was kind of you, the first line of apps for the run trackers and now you know, they're starting to get into those more obscure sports.

[00:28:40] Something that just popped into my head is, is there a like a B2B or a commercial space for the watch? I don't know if there's any, yeah. I don't know if there's anything like this now, but I remember on my uncle works in the accessibility field and I told him just an idea I had about if you had, say, like a, um, a non-sighted, um, employee and you can use the watch, you know, to get them to their desk every day, you know, if it's a big building or something like that just as an example, and you might be, you might be able to do that with the existing accessibility. 

[00:29:15] Leo Dion (Host): Yeah. I've had this discussion with other developers, just how, like the haptic feedback stuff. Is it really taken advantage of on the watch? And that would be like a great example of that is like being able to feel kind of where you are, where you're located um, it seems like it would be a good fit, I think. Like with B2B. Yeah, location stuff. Anything having to do with GPS would be helpful on the Apple Watch. Besides of course, health and fitness. And you say where you need like more advance notifications. That would be really convenient on the Apple Watch.

[00:29:50] And I'm trying to, trying to think of what other industries could really take advantage of having such a small, convenient device like that. 

[00:29:57] Gary Sabo (Guest): Yeah, I agree. Uh,  I remember too, I was treated about a year ago. I actually, ironically enough broke my ankle playing hockey, but my doctor had an Apple Watch and I asked her about it.

[00:30:08] And she said, do you mostly use it for, you know, her calendar, but, um, I'm sure, I mean, I don't know much about, you know, how hospitals work, but, you know, maybe if the nurses or the PA's, you know, contract where that doctor is, what room she's in, you know, maybe that would be helpful or something like that.

[00:30:28] Leo Dion (Host): Yeah. What's that term called for like indoor GPS? Cause that's definitely, I think something that's going to continue to grow. I wish I could remember what that term is called, but yeah, I think that'd be another spot or, yeah. And then you got something having to do with beacons. I don't even know if that API is still open at all, but there's a lot that can be done in those areas.

[00:30:47] Have you seen anything as far as WWDC is concerned when it comes to other updates to HealthKit or fitness or new APIs with workouts? 

[00:30:56] Gary Sabo (Guest): Yeah, I'll be honest. I was actually moving, I went through a move and the week of WWDC, so I wasn't watching it live, and then I went in after and looked at all the videos and I was like, okay, let me check out all the health get videos.

[00:31:08] And there was one, I was like, wow, you know, cause last year I think there was like six. Then it's like five. 

[00:31:17] I did the whole blog post about how working sessions work and it's like there was a lot, there was a lot of big improvements last year to workouts and HealthKit. Well, 

[00:31:27] I think that's good though.

[00:31:28] You know, as a developer, you get a little bit of time to breathe and not have to play catch up so much this year. But, um, so it's that, it's the class on, um, I know HKQuantitySeriesSampleBuilder is in it, and it talks about sequencing. So I've watched that a few times, and I know, I think it's just sort of, um. tweaks as far as sort of the resolution. I think their, their, their example is if you're querying for heart rates, traditionally every heart rate object has the device type on it. Whereas if you now use this HKQuantitySeries, you can just get the timestamp and the value and not have to get that redundant device type every time was that their example that they used? Yeah. I think overall from health point of view, the big changes were last year, and this year is kind of a catch up here. 

[00:32:22] Leo Dion (Host): Yeah, I agree. As far as like the workout stuff, I think it's more pushing folks to build apps for a future where the Apple Watch is essentially not no longer needed with, with an iPhone at the same time.

[00:32:34] And I think that's the big emphasis. And then of course with UI, like basically overhauling the way, you know, the use of WatchKit for building the UI. I think that was the big message this year with WOTC and the watch. 

[00:32:46] Gary Sabo (Guest): One thing that has sort of been a maddening problem for me as a third party developer is that you cannot modify an HKWorkout.

[00:32:55] You, um, you know, if you, cause every HKworkout has, you know, it's associated data. You know, it's distance. Heart rates actually are not associated with a workout, but it's distance. It's calories. But then it also has metadata, which you can basically package anything you want and that metadata, but you can't modify a workout.

[00:33:15] And I'm sure Apple has their reasons, but what you're forced to do this dance anytime, you know, say the, the user wants to add a note to a workout. Well, I have to make a copy of the current workout, add the new note field to it. Save that new updated workout and then delete the old one and just, I'm not sure why, but um, you get a lot of errors back from Apple.

[00:33:41] It's an object. It's actually object filled the fine object for deletion whenever you tried to delete it. And I've had that problem for a long time. And if you Google around Strava, I think has the exact same problem because users complain in on iOS about duplicate workouts. And that's really, I think what the problem is, is because when you try to add something to a workout or receive it and you don't delete the old, you end up with a duplicate.

[00:34:06] So that was something that I was kind of hoping to get solved. And if I have whatever attend WWDC, that'd be a great question for. Um, but, um, but yeah, there was nothing that I heard that would solve that issue for me. 

[00:34:21] Leo Dion (Host): What do you see as other APIs you think are missing for the Apple Watch or specifically HealthKit?

[00:34:30] Gary Sabo (Guest): I think HealthKit gets very robust. I'm excited about where they're going as far as the integration of, you know, they're partnering with some of the bigger hospitals and now you can pull down your data from your providers now into the cloud. Okay. Yeah. And it's a third party developer, you know, to me, there's, there's opportunity there because now you have actual help.

[00:34:50] Obviously you have to be sensitive with it and obviously Apple is going to require the appropriate authorizations, but provided you get it and you'd probably mid probably an amazing use cases. You know, and, and opportunities for third, third party developers. But one thing that is limiting, I think, is that it is only available on the iPhone and the Watch.

[00:35:08] So when we talk about, you know, marzipan, to me, that was never super realistic about it because until HealthKit is available on the Mac or on the iPad, you know, I can't really build my apps on those platforms. 

[00:35:20] Leo Dion (Host): How is HealthKit stuff. Yeah, I always am uncertain. Is some health stuff in the cloud or is it all on device or how does that work exactly?

[00:35:32] Gary Sabo (Guest): It's cloud based. 

[00:35:32] Leo Dion (Host): Okay. It is cloud-based. 

[00:35:34] Gary Sabo (Guest): It's at a high level, 

[00:35:36] Leo Dion (Host): so technically it would be feasible to have that data available on the Mac or on an iPad. 

[00:35:42] Gary Sabo (Guest): Well, I think the problem is, I mean, just like, you know, nuts and bolts from a developer, you couldn't open up, Oh, well, just on the iPad for example, you have to, before you perform your authorization, you have to make sure the device that HealthKit is available, and that's where you, that's where you would fail on the iPad.

[00:36:00] Right. And then, I'm not even sure, you know, under under AppKit how it would work, but I would guess like, you know, you'd go to import health kit and it would find no module, you know, or something like that. 

[00:36:11] Leo Dion (Host): But I mean, like, they don't have, like the data is in the cloud. It's just a matter of them providing some sort of library or module or framework essentially to access that data.

[00:36:21] Gary Sabo (Guest): Maybe that's underway and you know, we just haven't heard about it, but it's obviously a big part of Apple's, um, you know, API APIs. So when they talk about wanting to, you know, with one click push apps from the iPad to, to the Mac, it seems like it's a big segment of apps that they can. You know, it's just an easy tweak on their end to make that data available.

[00:36:43] Leo Dion (Host): Yep. Yeah, I agree. 

[00:36:45] Gary Sabo (Guest): Cause I know my users would love, I mean, think about it on a 12.9 in giant pad pro to see, you know, your data from your workout graph. It would be beautiful. 

[00:36:53] Leo Dion (Host): Yeah, that's exactly what I'm thinking is like you want to see that that data on the iPad, maybe the Mac would be the next spot, maybe the web, and I think it would be great to have that stuff available cause it's visualization.

[00:37:04] That's where a lot of this workout stuff is super helpful is being able to visualize it and see it. Do you think that there's going to be a new watch this year? 

[00:37:15] Gary Sabo (Guest): That's a good question. So we just had the series for, I guess that was last year. I'm not sure their release cycle isn't, it seems like it's every two years.

[00:37:23] Leo Dion (Host): Is it okay? 

[00:37:24] Gary Sabo (Guest): I think just improving the sensors. I know sometimes, like you know, my users, for example. They'll say, Hey, um, you know, I had a, you know, I was playing soccer and it said I ran 35 miles per hour. And I don't think that's possible, you know, say, well, my app isn't really taking the, you know, taking the reading it's the Apple Watch sensors and you know, we're still at the infancy of wearable technology. So I think over time the sensors will just get more accurate. I don't know if it's ever been thought about, but just a simple use case. I've always wanted to know, like either body temperature or room temperature, you know, adding in their mom and or in the watch.

[00:38:01] Leo Dion (Host): I agree completely. I think that would be great. Humid, witty, stuff like that. Cause I think they, a lot of it they think, Oh you can just depend on like the web just kind of tell you a local temperature. Like sometimes it's nice to have room temperature and like body temperature and stuff like that as well.

[00:38:17] Obviously can go down the whole rabbit hole of like all those sensors. Like diabetes, I think is a super huge market. I think that they want to crack. We know that there's been reports about that and some of the other stuff, like blood alcohol levels, I could see them working on that somehow without having to, you know, do anything to poke, to poke a person essentially.

[00:38:42] Gary Sabo (Guest): That's actually something I'm very interested in and I think it's sorta like the glasses, you know, whenever that is to get, you know, whenever technology is able to catch up there and we are able to store to access the blood, I mean, obviously Theranos in everybody's mind, but if something akin to Theranos that was actually worked, you know, it could be possible, 

[00:39:04] Leo Dion (Host): not just smoke and mirrors.

[00:39:06] Gary Sabo (Guest): Right. Exactly. And I wouldn't surprise me of Apple, you know, was the first one to figure it out. If there's some way that you could, you know, just get enough blood to be able to analyze it. You just think, to me, that's where HealthKit, that's where the future is going to be, is that I don't think cancers are necessarily going to, you know, quote unquote cure it.

[00:39:25] But I think if we have 24/7 monitoring of blood markers, like the instant that that cancer begins to develop, if you could start to treat for it instead of having to wait six months for your next checkup. Yeah, no, I think that's really where we'll start to be able to fight these diseases better.

[00:39:45] Leo Dion (Host): Yeah, I agree completely, and I think that's kind of where the long tail future, the longterm future of the Apple Watch will be is a lot of the other health kits stuff that's so, so important to people stay at where he lives. Gary, thank you so much for coming on. Anything else you want to talk about before we close out?

[00:40:05] Gary Sabo (Guest): The only other thing I had in my notes was - I haven't got to watch it yet, but just looking through that site, I said, I'll post it in the notes, but it was a talk called good developer habits. It looks really good, so I'm excited to check that out. 

[00:40:18] Leo Dion (Host): Yeah, that sounds awesome. We'll post that in the notes as well.

[00:40:22] Are you on Twitter or how can people get ahold of you? 

[00:40:26] Gary Sabo (Guest): Sure. My company is Myndarc LLC, so if you wanted to check out any of my apps, you can just go Google the app store in mind Ark, M, Y N, B, a R C. And then I'm @GarySabo on Twitter 

[00:40:39] Leo Dion (Host): Awesome. And then if folks want to get ahold of me, you can find my company @brightdigit, brightdigit.com it's @brightdigit on Twitter and Instagram and BrightDigit on Facebook.

[00:40:53] I am looking for new contract work, so if you are a company that needs help. With building a custom iOS app or a watch up, especially in the way the Apple Watch has been growing and becoming more and more powerful. Definitely reach out to me. You can reach me, leo@brightdigit.com. Gary, thank you so much for coming on the show.

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Creators and Guests

Leo Dion
Leo Dion
Swift developer for Apple devices and more; Founder of BrightDigit; husband and father of 6 adorable kids
iOS Developer / former Attorney / 🎸 Musician 🎹 / 🏋️‍♀️ Athlete 🏒 / Maker of @athlytic_app @HockeyTracker_ & @soccertrackr 👨‍💻

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