Apple's latest iPhone update includes Apple Watch app you can't delete

It stares at you -- maybe until you buy an Apple Watch.

Nick Statt Former Staff Reporter / News
Nick Statt was a staff reporter for CNET News covering Microsoft, gaming, and technology you sometimes wear. He previously wrote for ReadWrite, was a news associate at the social-news app Flipboard, and his work has appeared in Popular Science and Newsweek. When not complaining about Bay Area bagel quality, he can be found spending a questionable amount of time contemplating his relationship with video games.
Nick Statt
3 min read

Like other iOS pre-loaded apps like Stocks and Calendar, Apple's new Apple Watch app can't be removed. Screenshot by Nick Statt/CNET

What better way to convince Apple iPhone users they should shell out hundreds if not thousands of dollars for the latest gadget than an app you can't remove from your smartphone?

After updating your iPhone to latest version of Apple's iOS 8 mobile operating system -- technically iOS version 8.2, which was released Monday -- you'll notice the addition of a new app labeled Apple Watch. It's the software hub that lets owners of Apple's new smartwatch pair the gadget with their iPhone, control certain watch settings and download new wearable apps.

The Apple Watch, which will be available in nine countries starting April 24, is expected to offload to the iPhone much of the computational heavy lifting of using, for instance, Apple's voice-controlled Siri digital assistant, its Messages app and third-party applications including the one for ride-hailing service Uber. That means the smart gadget requires its smartphone companion nearby at all times to perform a majority of app functions.

For now, the Apple Watch app entices consumers with product videos, but it's not hard to imagine an update down the line that lets the app notify you every 30 seconds that it's time to just cave, buy the watch and live in the future already. Like Stocks, Calendar, Contacts and other Apple-made apps on iOS, the new Apple Watch app can't be deleted from your iPhone.

Think of it as sort of a strategic advertisement that lives on the home screens of hundreds of millions of iPhone users. (Apple said today it's sold more than 700 million iPhones since it was introduced in 2007, though not all of those devices can run iOS 8.2.)

Apple was not immediately available for comment on whether the app would ever be removable.

Before the April 24 release date of the Apple Watch, its companion app doesn't do much by nudge users to buy the device. Screenshots by Nick Statt/CNET

Apple provided more details about its upcoming wearable on Monday at an event called "Spring Forward" in San Francisco. While Apple CEO Tim Cook and other executives discussed new features and app partnerships, much of the attention has been focused on the pricing for the three models of the Apple Watch.

Speculation had been running high since the September unveiling of the device, and Apple confirmed today that its aluminum Sport model will be priced starting at $350, its steel middle-tier model will start at $550 and two 18-karat gold models will be priced starting at an eye-popping $10,000 (or $17,000 with a higher-end strap.)

Those price tags, plus the company's ongoing struggle to define the greater need for wrist-worn computing devices, may make for a tough sell. Because it's not your entire music library in your pocket -- like the iPod -- or the Internet on the go -- like the first iPhone -- the Apple Watch is tasked with carving out value of its own to get consumers on board.

For those who would rather not face the cold stare of capitalism urging them ever-closer to a multi-hundred dollar accessory purchase, it may be best to bury the Apple Watch app in the third screen of a folder and label it "Maps" or "Game Center." Though I can't promise you won't be tempted to reach for your wallet at some point.