Wondering whether AppleVis will add a section for information on the accessibility of Apple Watch apps

Hello all,
I am wondering whether Applevis will be restructured so that accessibility of Apple Watch apps will be reported. For example, Trivia Crack is completely usable on the iPhone, but I have noticed that on the watch, all answers are unlabeled buttons. I think this might be an example of a case in which we need a different accessibility rating for the watch app, and a clear denotation of which is which. Broader community, what are your thoughts?

Forum: 

#1 Makes total sense to me!

I think it's an excellent idea, especially if some watch apps aren't as accessible as the iOS versions.

#2 It’s on the agenda

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

This is something that we have in mind. However, for the time being, we want to wait until we have a clearer understanding of the type of issues that will be present on the Watch and what information people will find most helpful.

The best way to add Watch accessibility information to the site is made more complicated by the fact that Watch apps are not standalone apps, in that an existing iOS app simply gains support for the Watch. This means that adding a complete new ‘App Directory’ on the site for Watch apps may not be the best or most appropriate option. However, incorporating information on Watch accessibility within the framework of the existing iOS App Directory also raises a number of issues.

Which, of course, is why it’s prudent to delay making a decision right now … it’s better to get things right from the start, rather than have to go back and change things again in a few months time because it turns out that there was a better way of doing it.

And, yes, that’s a lesson which has been learned from bitter experience over the past 5 years of AppleVis (smile)

#3 May I make a suggestion

Club AppleVis Member

For app entries, have accessibility options like "the app is fully accessible on the phone, but the watch accessibility sucks." Well, maybe not those exact words, but you get the idea. Haha. Maybe you could set it so that if certain boxes were checked, it could activate a comments edit field. Just a thought.

#4 Suggestions most welcome

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

One significant complication is that many people posting iOS app entries to the site will not have an Apple Watch. So, even if they know that the app does have Apple Watch support, they won’t be able to comment on accessibility on the Watch.

This is one possible advantage to having a dedicated area of the site for Apple Watch apps. However, this would fragment discussion and information, as that would then be split across 2 separate entries - one in the iOS App Directory and one in this possible new section.

As I said, it could be very easy to rush into something and find that it doesn’t meet our needs.

So, do please keep those ideas coming … particularly those of you who already have a Watch so are learning what issues are likely to exist and what information you would find helpful.

#5 Another idea

What about an optional section of the app with checkboxes for apple watch accessibility? Then if someone didn't own an apple watch or simply didn't know, they could leave the fields blank and they could be flagged as such for someone else to fill in later.
Thanks for the information!
Megan

#6 Allowing anybody to edit/update entries

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Under the current setup an App Directory entry can only be updated/edited by the original poster or a member of the Editorial Team.

Allowing others to modify or update entries raises a number of potential issues. For example, imagine that you have just spent quite some time drafting and submitting an app entry that contains lots of good and helpful information, only to find that somebody else comes along shortly afterwards and changes things. Not only are you likely to be annoyed, but there’s also a good chance that you will decide not to submit any more apps.

#7 Precious app directory entries

If someone is concerned by the possibility of having their app directory entry edited, they really need to take a step back and ask themselves why it matters so much. If there's an edit history and a way to keep people who abuse the privilege from editing app directory entries, I believe a reasonable person should have no issue with allowing the community to edit entries.

The Apple Watch app issue presents a reasonable case for switching to a wiki style app directory. Yes, you could have a separate directory for watch apps, but as they are generally meant to be paired with an iPhone app, it makes more sense to put the entries together. As pointed out, not everyone who has an iPhone is going to have an Apple Watch, so to allow an app directory creator's pride to get in the way of presenting complete information for iPhone apps with companion watch apps seems unreasonable.

Out of curiosity, has the idea of a wiki style (community editable) app directory ever been presented to the community as a whole? I can't imagine that every person who creates an app directory entry actually wants to be responsible for maintaining their entry for the unforeseeable future. It's not what I'd call a small job.

#8 Let us know what you want

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Now that the dust is starting to settle, we have a clearer idea of where Apple sees Watch apps evolving, and more people actually have an Apple Watch, I wanted to revisit this topic and invite people to make their suggestions for the best way forward.

It now seems that having a dedicated App Directory for Watch apps is going to be the best solution. Not perfect, but better than trying to integrate information into the existing iOS App Directory.

Some of the problems of having a dedicated Watch App Directory have already been raised and discussed above. The main one, as I see it, is that the end result will be that essentially the same app will appear in 2 places on the site. For example, the Twitter app will have an entry in the iOS App Directory and the Watch App Directory. Some of the information will be duplicated (description, category, cost, etc.) and there is the possibility that discussion may become somewhat fragmented. There is also the consideration of what happens when somebody wants to submit an app to the site which isn’t currently listed, and where they have tested it on both iOS and the Watch. Having thought long and hard, there appears to be no practical alternative (in terms of how the website works and is structured) to asking that they submit 2 separate entries for the app. Naturally, this is far from ideal. And, yes, I have looked at everything possible to avoid this. However, as I said, there is no practical alternative.

So, it we accept that, even with its failings, a dedicated Watch App Directory is the way to go, we next need to think about what information we will want to collect and share. What is reasonable for people to know and provide when submitting an app, and what is going to be of the most value to other users.

As a starting point, I suggest that we look at iOS App Directory entries - strip out what is either not relevant or unnecessary, and add it tweak as required.

So, some of this will be the same:

Name
Category
Version
Free or Paid

I personally think that the following information is not needed:

Device that app was used on (as all current versions of the Watch are essentially the same under the skin, this information offers no value)
WatchOS version

So, that leaves us with the most important information, which is how accessible is the app.

The text area to submit extended and specific information on accessibility seems a no-brainer.

However, my personal experience of the Watch suggests that the selection options which we have in the iOS App Directory for VoiceOver performance and button labeling are not appropriate for the Watch.

So, if people are with me so far, that just leaves us needing to decide upon a suitable classification system for rating the overall usability of the app.

Personally, I would like to significantly streamline this compared to the one used for iOS apps.

Essentially, I have some form of the following in mind:

Completely accessible
Mostly accessible
Partly accessible
Completely inaccessible.

Something else that I am still unsure about, is whether there should be a way to separately rate the usability of a Glance (if appropriate) and the main app on the Watch.

And, this is where I sit back and invite you all to share your own thoughts (smile)

One lesson that I have learned from past experience with AppleVis, is that I would much rather get things right from the start, than have to go back and change things once they are implemented and established. The latter is rarely fun!

So, do please let us know what you think and would like.

#9 Re: let us know what you want

If we are going to have a separate entry for Watch apps, I would really like to see a link from the iOS app information to the Watch app information and vice versa.This would be similar to what is currently done when there is a podcast about a particular app. Finally, something else to at least begin thinking about, are we also going to have a separate section for AppleTV apps when the new TV is released this Fall?
Thanks.
Jim

#10 Happy with the idea of separate app directory

Let me start off by saying that I personally am very happy with the idea of having a separate app directory for the watch.

I agree with the above post regarding the best method of rating the accessibility of the app.

I do feel that there probably should be two different ratings for glances and the main app for usability too.

Looking forward to reading future plans :)

#11 Like idea of separate directory, not sure about glances

I like the idea of a separate directory and love the comment suggestion about linking to the iOS app entry if present. I do, however think the Watch OS version is important as not everyone may upgrade, especially in a few years when we have newer watch models. In addition, just like we don't have separate entries for iOS widgets currently, I'm not convinced Glances should be separated out.

#12 Seconding Links and Some Thoughts

I agree with the suggestion above that there should be some way to provide a link between the IOS and Watch app entries for the same app. Perhaps on each form, add a checkbox that the submitter can tick if they know of or have written an entry for the other platform. That way, if someone writes an entry for the IOS app, and then someone comes along and does one for the Watch app, this second person can create a link to the existing entry for IOS. The link should then be reciprocal, providing a way to get from the IOS entry to the new Watch one.

I also agree with having a separate entry especially now that Apple has announced that in the Watch OS 2.0, there will be native apps. This raises the possibility that there could be apps that only exist on the Watch and not the IOS device it's paired with. Not sure how common that might be, but it's the implication.

However, I'm a bit bemused as to why the Watch OS version shouldn't be relevant or useful in the entry. Surely, now that we've already got 2.0 on the horizon, it will be important to say which OS version the app works on. Some of the new native Watch apps almost certainly won't work on IOS 1.0 or 1.0.1, and that's important to know. Or have I misread?

#13 Glances

Perhaps simply add a note as to whether the app provides glances? Not all apps will I suspect. If we don't have a separate category to indicate the accessibility of the glance if it's present, then it might b worth simply adding text to the form reminding the poster that they are expected to include the glances of the app in their assessment of the accessibility.

#14 Duplicated info and fragmented discussion

I think the biggest problem is the duplicated app info. If you were able to unify the general app info, you could treat the accessibility info for the various platforms as modules that are available from the app info page either under a suitable heading or with a tabbed/collapsible interface, which would neatly deal with the fragmentation of discussion.

#15 WIKI

I might've missed it, but I didn't find a response from AppleVis to the idea of wiki-ing up app directories. Whilst it might take more development time initially to get running, is it not the better solution to prevent fragmentation in the long term? It would also likely keep app directory entries more current without having to wade through the comments section for apps that receive regular updates.

#16 Re: WIKI

An argument I've seen against wiki-style editing for app directory entries is that people will be less willing to create the entries if they know that someone else can come along and edit them, potentially destroying the hard work they put into creating the entry. I believe it came up in another thread, but I can't remember which one.

#17 Lots of great food for thought

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Many thanks to everybody who has already shared their thoughts and suggestions. You have given us some great food for thought.

A wiki-style approach is something that we have previously considered, and one that has a number of potential benefits. However, it also has a number of disadvantages and would require for a complete change in both the practical and technical aspects of how the site works, and a culture shift within the community itself. At this time, we do not believe that this is the correct direction.

We would certainly look at ways of cross-linking related Watch and iOS app entries. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that we would be able to automate this, so it would need to be a manual process.

On the question of including the version of watchOS that the app was tested on, I guess that my view is based upon how much value I personally find that this offers when viewing iOS App Directory entries. To be frank, it’s not something that I look at. Perhaps I am in the minority, and others do find this useful. If people were wanting to include this as means of indicating app compatibility, then I believe that this is not appropriate for AppleVis. It’s the type of information which has the potential to be relatively fluid through app releases, making it something that the App Store itself is where you should check for accurate and up-to-date information. But, as I said, if others do genuinely find this information useful in terms of determining whether an app is likely to be of interest, I am certainly happy to go along with that.

On the topic of Glances, I don’t personally see any significant value in simply asking people to state if the app has a Glance. In most cases, I would expect this to be evident from the description. However, I have already encountered a few instances where there is a discrepancy in accessibility between an app’s Glance and the main app itself. So, I personally think that having the ability to show this via separate ratings could be helpful. I guess that this strikes me as something which we could come to regret not including from the start, and need to retrofit.

Which, of course, is why all of this feedback is so helpful, as it should improve the chances of getting things correct from the start (smile)

#18 Apple watch directory

Personally, I think that a directory for Apple watch apps would be a great idea. As other have said though weshould have a link from the iOS app to the watch app.