Luc Vinkenvleugel, a senior project manager in the Netherlands working in healthcare, has a hobby --- speed skating. In that, he isn’t different from many others in the skating-passionate Netherlands, which won 24 speed-skating medals in the 2014 Olympics alone.
But one thing sets Vinkenvleugel apart from other speed skaters: to track and improve his performance he built an Apple Watch mobile application that lets him and other speed skaters track their performance in real time, including the total number of laps, the time of the last lap, and the time of the fastest lap. All skaters need to do is glance down at their Apple Watch, and they see all that data and more.
“When I was skating one day I realized that the Apple Watch would be the perfect way for getting information about your skating performance,” he remembers about the genesis of the app. “You’d only have to glance down at your watch, rather than having to constantly pull your smartphone out of your pocket. I have a web site for speed skaters that offers my smartphone apps to evaluate their performances. So I decided to write an app for the Apple Watch to do it as well.”
Building the App with Alpha Software’s Alpha WatchBench
Although Vinkenvleugel had experience creating smartphone apps, he had never written one for the Apple Watch. His search for the right tool brought him quickly to Alpha Software’s Alpha WatchBench, an iOS app developed for creating and testing custom Apple Watch applications.
“I saw immediately it was perfect for my needs,” he says. “It’s so easy to use, so intuitive, and with such excellent documentations and examples that in a half-hour I was able to write my first Apple Watch app, based on a sample project.”
Particularly helpful, he says, is that “Alpha WatchBench offers templates and formats that fit in with Apple’s designs for displaying information and intuitive navigation. You’re provided with buttons, table layouts, root page and more, so you don’t have to worry about lower-level programming. And I was really impressed with how robust and fast the app was that I created. My app can refresh pages within two seconds, much faster than many other Apple Watch apps.”
In order to use the app, skaters need to use a transponder from MyLaps, which records lap times. The transponder logs the lap times to a web page created for the user.
That’s where the Alpha WatchBench skating app takes over. It calls a PHP script from a web server, which scrapes the information off the web page and processes it into graphs and other overviews. All that is then displayed on an Apple Watch. A skater needs to merely glance down to get information, as shown below. (Note: the text is in Dutch.)
To get more details, he or she can tap the watch and see a screen like this one:
Using the watch’s digital crown provides this type of information:
Vinkenvleugel says that Alpha WatchBench is so simple to use that he continually makes improvements to the speed skating app. “I have several other ideas for apps I want to create with it,” he says. “And what’s great about WatchBench is that I can create them and evaluate them very fast.”
Anyone interested in the app can check out Vinkenvleugel’s Web site, www.vinksite.com. Keep in mind that it’s in Dutch.
To read about another Apple Watch working prototype built by another developer using Alpha WatchBench, click here
To read the official Alpha WatchBench press announcement, click here.