Last September, Apple introduced to the world its first foray into the wearable technology via the Apple Watch and on Tuesday, the Cupertino firm released the WatchKit SDK to developers which would allow the creation of third party applications, Glances and actionable notifications for the newest member of the Apple family.
The Apple Watch is expected to debut in the first quarter of 2015, with some quarters saying Apple is targeting a Valentine’s Day unleashing for its wrist candy. With the release of the SDK, developers can now create application specifically designed for the Apple Watch. Developers can download iOS 8.2 software development kit from Apple’s developer website which contains the necessary tools for this. Apple has also made available a 28 minute video for would-be developers showing how they can start building apps and other functions for the Apple Watch.
Quoting Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing:
“Apple Watch is our most personal device ever, and WatchKit provides the incredible iOS developer community with the tools they need to create exciting new experiences right on your wrist. With the iOS 8.2 beta SDK, developers can now start using WatchKit to create breakthrough new apps, Glances and actionable notifications designed for the innovative Apple Watch interface and work with new technologies such as Force Touch, Digital Crown and Taptic Engine.”
Apps created with the SDK (called WatchKit apps) are composed of two components: a WatchKit extension which is installed and runs on the iPhone and the user interface (UI) resources which are installed on the Apple Watch itself. Launching an Apple Watch app triggers the WatchKit extension on the iPhone to run and updates the user interface on the Apple Watch to interact accordingly with the users’ input.
As mentioned, developers can create three kinds of Apple Watch extensions for the iPhone namely WatchKit apps, Glances, and actionable notifications.
WatchKit allows developers to create notifications that enable users to interact directly on their Apple Watch. For instance, a user may receive a notification on their iPhone to turn off the lights after leaving home which they can easily do using their Apple Watch instead of whipping out their iPhones, opening an app and then finally doing the action required to do the task.
The WatchKit SDK also allows developers to create Glances – information which the user deem important to them like the latest news, sporting event updates and more.
John Kosner, ESPN’s EVP of Digital and Print Media:
“Fans crave real-time and personal information, and the ESPN app for Apple Watch gives us the ability to deliver live scores and information for their favorite teams. Glances provide fans with a snapshot of live games, and if there is no game taking place, they’ll get valuable game-time information or the final box score. With actionable notifications, the experience becomes even more personal, as fans receive alerts on score changes, news and more.”
To further help developers with their app creation, Apple has provided tons of programming guides, human interface guidelines, templates and more in the WatchKit website. By the second half of 2015, native Apple Watch apps can be created which will no longer need an iPhone to be fully functional.