David Smith has been tracking the adoption of newer models of Apple Watch by using stats from his apps.
I’ve been keeping an eye on the adoption of the Apple Watch Series 3 since its introduction last fall. From a development perspective the Series 3 is a delight to work with. It is fast, capable and LTE allows a wide variety of new applications (for example, the podcast support I added to Workouts++).
This stands in contrast to the challenges of working with the Series 0 (or Apple Watch (1st generation) as Apple would call it). It is just slow and honestly a bit painful to develop for. Even basic things like deploying your application to the watch can take uncomfortably long amounts of time. In daily use the Series 0 is probably “good enough” for many customers, especially with the speed/stability improvements added in watchOS 4, but as a developer I can’t wait until I no longer have to support it.
Which is why I’ve been watching the Apple Watch adoption curve within my apps (specifically Pedometer++ for this analysis) quite carefully. My personal hope is that this summer when we get watchOS 5 it will drop support for the Series 0 and free Apple to really push forward on what is possible for developers. But in order for that wish to be realistic I imagine Apple will need the daily use of those first watches to have died down significantly.
The numbers he got were encouraging. Based on his numbers, the percentage of users wearing the Series 0 Apple Watch are well below the Series 2 and 3.
My guess is that the actual numbers (which only Apple can get) are not quite as favorable. Using apps on the Series 0 watch is a pretty terrible experience, so I would guess that the percentage of Apple Watch users that use third party apps is higher on the newer watches than it is on the Series 0. If that is the case, there would be more Series 0 watches still being used than his numbers show.
However, I don’t think that his numbers being a little off necessarily have to change his conclusion that watchOS 5 is a good time to cut off support for the OG watch. If Series 0 users are not using third party apps in the first place, why make developers continue to support them?
Having the latest version of watchOS still support the Series 0 watch could also explain why Apple Watch development is still using WatchKit instead of something closer to UIKit. It would not surprise me if a new development framework for watchOS coincided with dropping the original Apple Watch from the list of supported devices.
Hopefully we see both this summer.