Building Maps for watchOS and Watchsmith 1.3

WWDC 2020 is right around the corner and with it we will likely see the introduction of watchOS 7, but I’m not quite finished with watchOS 6. Today I’m rolling out Watchsmith 1.3. Which includes a completely custom mapping system which brings interactive, dynamic maps to watchOS.

Since the first Apple Watch a built-in Maps app has been included with watchOS. This provides turn-by-turn directions and point-of-interest search. This functionality, however, isn’t available for 3rd-party apps. For us all we have had a basic map component that provides for static display of a map with optional pin annotations.

These are useful but limited in their capability. So once I wrapped up my major work for Watchsmith I left myself a little ‘dessert’ project to see if I could leverage the capabilities in watchOS 6 to build my own fully dynamic mapping system. My goal was to provide something comparable to what customers would be used to on iOS, with full interaction, dynamic zoom, and rich overlays. I wasn’t aware of any other app that has done this so I wasn’t really sure if it would be possible.

I was delighted to eventually to get this to work, which is a testament to the great work the watchOS team has done with bringing SwiftUI to the Apple Watch. Even more exciting is that this can run smoothly on a variety of Apple Watch hardware (including the Series 3).

Radar Map

The first place I then took this new capability was to add interactive weather radar. This augments the existing forecast displays with a visual view of the weather. You access this in the Weather area of the app and it provides an animated view of the last hour’s precipitation. You can pan this view by swiping your finger, use the Digital Crown to zoom in and out, or double tap to quickly zoom in.

This is showing data from the RainViewer system which has some of the best global coverage I could find.

Live Workout Map

I’ve also now added the ability to view a live map showing your current position during outdoor workouts. This is includes a route track showing where you have been so far. This view also indicates your current direction of travel.

Workout Route Map

For any workout that includes route tracking (whether recorded in Watchsmith or not) I now also show you a full map of your path. If you tap on the summary map you can then also get a fully interactive version should you want to zoom into any part of it.


I’m really excited that things like this are now possible on watchOS. For so long I have felt that there were so many ideas I had for features that simply weren’t possible to create on watchOS.

Getting mapping to work has been a delightful departure for this kind of limited thinking. It is clear to me now that I am only limited by my imagination not by my tools anymore. I suspect this will become even better in watchOS 7, I can’t wait.

Watchsmith in the App Store.

(Radar Map, like all weather data display, requires a Premium subscription)

David Smith