What is a companion app and what is its function?

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You keep stumbling across the term "companion app". This describes - in general terms - an app that is supplied with another app or hardware. Examples include iPhone apps that function as a remote control for a specific Bluetooth speaker.

I first came into contact with the term companion app when I got the Apple Watch new and was at a loss when faced with the problem of installing apps on it. This is not done via the watch itself, but via a companion app called "Watch" on the iPhone, which "pushes" the software onto the Apple Watch. That would be an example of such an additional app.

With the watch app on the iPhone, the watch faces can be changed and apps can also be installed on the watch.

With the watch app on the iPhone, the watch faces can be changed and apps can also be installed on the watch.

Other examples of companion apps are the watch apps from Komoot or Runtastic, which act as add-ons to the iPhone app. With the Runtastic Watch app you can go jogging without an iPhone, but in conjunction with the iPhone you can change settings and have more options for adapting your training.

At Komoot, things are even more limited. Here the watch app is only used to display distances and arrows for the next junction. The Komoot app on the Apple Watch will not work without the iPhone in your luggage. This is a companion app that cannot be used on the iPhone without its counterpart.

The Runtastic fitness app also offers a companion app for the Apple Watch. This allows you to quickly view your current data during training without having to take your iPhone out of your pocket.

The Runtastic fitness app also offers a companion app for the Apple Watch. This allows you to quickly view your current data during training without having to take your iPhone out of your pocket.

Another example is the "Adobe Preview" app, where the iOS app is, for a change, the app that depends on the Mac. The apps on the iPhone and iPad are used here to visualize a design that is currently being edited in Adobe Photoshop on the Mac on your iPhone or iPad. So you can quickly see what the user interface looks like on the different devices. This is helpful if you are working on the UI of iOS apps and want to check the results of your work in between.

The main application is also absolutely necessary for the companion app "Adobe Preview", because Adobe Preview does not run without Photoshop.

Companion apps as an add-on for hardware

What I have come across more and more recently are companion apps that serve as help, advice or even control elements for real, physical devices. For example, the latest version of the Thermomix offers the transfer of recipes via app so that you always have your favorite selection directly in the device. But coffee machine manufacturers also use apps, for example to conveniently adjust the machine settings via the app.

Melitta also offers a companion app for certain coffee machine models, which can be used to find help on the product, a shop for spare parts and the like (graphic: Melitta).

Melitta also offers a companion app for certain coffee machine models, which can be used to find help on the product, a shop for spare parts and the like (graphic: Melitta).

In itself that's a good idea, but unfortunately I have seen too often in the past how such apps were no longer developed and then at some point they were no longer supported by iOS. The result is that, in the worst case, you can no longer operate your coffee machine ... I personally don't like to take this risk.

 

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