Instagram abandons its Apple Watch app

Instagram no longer has an Apple Watch app. The Verge can confirm that the version 39.0 update to the iPhone client, which comes with a changelog simply stating “general bug fixes and performance improvements,” removes the Watch app altogether.

As 9to5Mac notes, this is likely because of a new restriction that Apple is enforcing. As of April 1st, updates to Apple Watch apps must use the watchOS 2 SDK or later, while new Watch apps have to be built with the watchOS 4 SDK. Instagram’s app dates back to the days of WatchKit 1.0, when third-party software wasn’t able to run natively on the watch itself; it never got features like video support or the ability to work over an LTE connection.

“The Instagram app for Apple Watch will no longer be available as a standalone experience once users upgrade to iOS version 39 of Instagram, released on April 2, 2018,” an Instagram spokesperson said in a statement to The Verge. “We’re committed to giving users the best experience with their Apple products and will continue to explore ways we can deliver that across platforms. Apple Watch users will continue to have a great Instagram experience through various rich notifications.”

In ending support for its Apple Watch app, Instagram is following other prominent companies including Twitter, Google, Amazon, and Slack. Many have found that good notification support is all people really need or want out of Watch functionality, and in some cases removing the app has even resulted in usability improvements. But since Instagram’s app focused on recreating the same scrolling feed of content from the full phone version, its death is a strong sign that the social network doesn’t consider the Apple Watch a useful standalone app platform.

Update, April 3rd, 9PM ET: Added statement from Instagram.

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