A growing awareness of personal health and Gen Y- Gen Z enthusiasm for IoT devices have popularised wearable apps in the last few years. 

The global market of wearable apps is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 15.9% from 2020 to 2027 (source: grandviewresearch.com). Another statistic indicates that Wearable apps user penetration will be 5.3% in 2021. 

What are wearable apps?

In simple terms, it’s a technology that you wear on your body parts or clothing, connected to the internet (through smartphones, computers, tablets, etc.), The data is exchanged from the wearable apps to the device/network in order to perform tasks, monitoring, and analysis of bodily functions, and enhance physical performance as per desired output. 

Common examples of wearable apps are smartwatches and rings, fitness trackers like FitBit, body sensors, Google Glass, among others.

From GPS shoes to wristbands, medical wearables have the potential to detect, monitor and analyse heart rates, blood pressure, and even sleep cycles in addition to measuring fitness goals. 

Key features of wearable apps

  • Customized notifications, alerts and updates
  • Easy to use and navigate
  • Location tracking
  • Sensors with Bluetooth connectivity
  • Lightweight and easy to load
  • Data and privacy security

Benefits of wearable apps

  • They help you get actual, tangible data on your physical activities.
  • Users can understand the areas in which they need improvement and create necessary action plans to meet their health/performance goals. 
  • They come equipped with computational and data transmission capacity. 
  • Their ergonomic design and simple interface are highly useful. 
  • They can be used across sectors, e.g. as wearable prosthetics in manufacturing, as gaming accessories, virtual and augmented reality applications, medical wearables to monitor general health as well as complex conditions like cancer, or Alzheimer’s. 
  • They can be developed to provide enhanced user interactions through voice assistance, biometrics integration, AI-powered algorithms to predict user behaviour.
  • New wearable innovations are creating fabric/clothing that can combine touch and gestures to control devices. 

Difference between wearable apps and smartphone apps

Wearable apps are more or less an extension of smartphone apps. Mobile apps are on your phone while wearables can be placed anywhere for unique functionality, for instance on your skin, ankle, clothes. Wearable apps screen size differs from mobile apps, it’s smaller and the hardware is powerful and specially designed. A smartphone app can work on mobile, tablet, and PC while a wearable app needs a mobile app for functioning as well a smartphone/device. However, according to a study by MDPI.com, “The average number of steps recorded daily by the phone-based apps was on average 34% lower than that recorded by the fitness wristbands”. Wearable apps remain on the body at all times, unlike the smartphone apps that are only on the phone, which means that there can be a lag/break in collecting data if the user doesn’t carry the cellphone at all times, which most people don’t. 

Current trends in wearable technology

More advances in wearable technology are going to make devices like smartwatches more intelligent in collecting diverse data, such as sweat sensors to maintain electrolyte levels, glucose levels of the users, and even monitor triggers that result in stress in their physical and psychological health. 

Wearables will increasingly be compatible with payment gateways for contactless payments which entails that they can be more like smartphone apps in terms of utility. 

Businesses will integrate beacon technology in wearables so that more accurate and location-specific offers and promotions can be made to lure in targeted clientele.

Challenges/ limitations of wearable apps

Interoperability between various smart wearables and platforms is critical for the assimilation of data sources and continuity of performance, for which robust IoT infrastructure is necessary. Developers need to create wearable apps that are seamlessly connected and compatible with a multitude of larger devices so that information can easily pass through cross-platform compatibility.

Data privacy

Users may be hesitant to adopt wearable apps readily due to fear of data breaches. Inadequate and weak measures to develop two-way user authentication is one of the factors behind the general lack of trust in wearable app safety. Heightened privacy settings and keeping smart tech on guest networks and having a group of clients connect to a particular SSID, and the rest to another may create more protection. 

Updation

While putting a wearable app in the market is one thing, updating them to keep them relevant is a whole different challenge because of increasing customer expectations especially because the development of wearable apps itself is more complex and specialised than normal smartphone apps. Another main challenge is to create wearable apps with longer battery life. 

Differentiation

If your wearable app doesn’t offer solid USP to the user and doesn’t provide value and features superior to existing wearable apps, it’s not likely to appeal to the users. 

Developers looking to make breakthroughs in wearable apps are at the precipice of a great revolutionary stride in the next decade.