Enterprise Apps
Sagar Sharma
By: Sagar Sharma

7 Challenges That May Crop Up During Wearable App Development

Wearable solutions are currently a $700 million industry for fitness trackers alone, a product subset that currently dominates the market at 61% of all wearable solutions.

Development and growth opportunities for all wearable devices are poised to increase to over $12.6 billion with over 111 million units shipped by 2018.

This projected growth for wearable devices provides opportunities for wearable app development.

Consumers want mobility and businesses need efficiency.

The wearables market is poised to deliver but engineering these apps is not as easy as it may seem.

From different user interfaces to security concerns the challenges arise but can be overcome by understanding the unique perspective and benefit of wearables solutions.

Take a glance at top challenges that you will probably face during wearable app development.

1) User Interfaces

Users interact with wearable devices differently from smart phones, tablets, and other similar devices. With wearables, smaller screen sizes require rethinking development approaches. Focus should be placed on including as much passive data collection and speech-focused commands as possible for a streamlined end-user experience.

Wearable apps need to keep user interactions simple and quick; focused on micro moments. They don’t have the screen space for flashy icons and detailed navigation. Through brief glances and easy navigability, users stay more connected with minimal disruption to daily routines.

2) Data Privacy and Security

Data privacy and security concerns are the primary deterrent from wearable purchases. According to Rackspace, 51% of people reported these concerns as the main reason they had not yet invested in wearable technology.

Clear communication and opt-in privacy settings can allay fears and build long-term relationships through improved user experiences based on trust. Data sharing “should be discretionary,” said Eve Maler, VP of Innovation and Emerging Technology at ForgeRock. Although benefits exist for data sharing proper security measures must be proven to protect sensitive information and increase user confidence.

3) Desirable Functionality

The benefit of wearables is their mobility and ease of use. Apps need to add value that is convenient and cost-effective – in both money and time. Simply replicating what other mobile solutions offer won’t be enough, developers must anticipate consumer’s desired needs and make the solutions functionally efficient.

“If you want to create the killer app for wearables it has to materially benefit my life.” – Eve Maler

Cost and durability of devices affect consumer purchase habits. Google Glass, at $1500 per pair, ended production in January because the unit cost was simply too expensive to reach its full potential. Therefore, developers also need to consider the platform their app will be used with.

4) Wearables as Partial Devices

What will happen to the wearable app if the tethered device, like a smartphone, stops working?

Currently, wearables are primarily tethered devices – small screens with limited functionality that rely on another, larger device to access all the features of the application. Until advances enable these devices to function on their own developers must consider the effects of a smart phone’s battery dying, the wearable leaving Bluetooth range, or any other number of tether-breaking situations.

As Principal Designer of booking.com, Stuart Frisby says, “You now need to consider how to fail gracefully.”

5) Platform Specificity

The more cross-platform capability a wearable app has, the better. The fate of Google Glass is a great example why apps designed for a specific device are less successful than those that can operate across platforms.

As companies work to expand their wearables selection and users buy different products, developers will stay ahead of the competition by offering applications that aren’t limiting.

6) Rapid Application Development

New wearables are hitting the market while others are discontinuing production. This is a fast-paced field with high growth but also increasing needs and demands. Developers need to work quickly and efficiently to accomplish rapid development and launch with quick turn-around on consumer critiques to keep their products successful.

7) Become Updated or Outdated

For better or worse, technology is changing at an ever-increasing rate. With new wearable solutions come new programming languages

As apps push into new platforms and different devices, the Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) available grow. Some wearables – particularly those created such big names as Google – are creating specific API platforms that must be used for app compatibility with their device. This necessitates developers learning new APIs; however, keeping up with the challenges enables long-term success.


Wearable app development is challenging but rewarding. As devices and platforms change, developers need to be ready to meet the demands.

Adaptability will be the key component in this field with the projected growth that is expected to be seen in the next few years. Business success relies on keeping up with these trends and by keeping in mind the unique challenges of wearable app development.

These are the challenges that our experts identified during wearable app building, weigh in on it. If you encounter more, do share your views in the comments given below.

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