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Apple WatchKit Now Available For Developers Ahead of Apple Watch Launch

by Todd Haselton | November 18, 2014November 18, 2014 11:00 am PDT

Apple on Tuesday announced the availability of WatchKit, its set of tools for developers that enables them to start building app support for the new wearable. The Apple Watch is still on schedule to launch sometime in “early 2015,” which by some accounts may mean next spring, but this means that there should be plenty of apps to choose from whenever it does finally go on sale for consumers.

“Developers can create innovative WatchKit apps, actionable notifications and Glances, for timely information accessible by an easy, quick look at Apple Watch,” Apple said in a press release announcing the news. Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller added that developers can use WatchKit with the iOS 8.2 beta software development kit to create “breakthrough new apps, Glances and actionable notifications” while also taking advantage of other features such as Force Touch, the Digital Crown and the Apple Watch “Taptic Engine.”

Actionable notifications that Apple imagines developers creating include those that allow end users to switch off their houselights right from their wrist, view flight information, check traffic and more. Additionally, Apple said developers can take advantage of “Glances” to show incoming notifications, such as sports scores or breaking news alerts.

These features are already available on competing platforms, such as Android Wear, but Apple is banking on its large developer base to get things up to speed quickly.

“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,” ESPN’s executive vice president of digital and print media John Kosner said. “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.”

Apple also has support from Instagram, which will add actionable notifications and allow you to view photos, follow accounts and more, all from your wrist. Additionally, American Airlines said it will support notifications for gate changes and that Apple Watch owners can ask “Where am I?” during a flight for “real-time location information at 30,000 feet.”

The WatchKit developer tools are part of the iOS 8.2 SDK and are available immediately, Apple said, noting that support for native Apple Watch apps will come next year. Hit the source to get started on your app now.

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Developers Start Designing Apps for Apple Watch

WatchKit Software Tools Now Available to Developers

CUPERTINO, California—November 18, 2014—Apple® today announced the availability of WatchKit, software that gives developers a set of tools to easily create experiences designed specifically for Apple Watch™—Apple’s most personal device ever. Apple has the world’s most vibrant and innovative developer community, and now these developers can begin developing WatchKit apps before Apple Watch becomes available. Developers can create innovative WatchKit apps, actionable notifications and Glances, for timely information accessible by an easy, quick look at Apple Watch.

“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,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “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.”

Developers can create notifications that allow users to take action or respond right from their wrist such as turning the lights off after they’ve left the house, quickly accessing flight details at the airport, and rerouting their transit when a train or bus is late. Developers can incorporate Glances, which quickly show users information they care about most, such as the latest news and sports scores, alarm system status or the next step of a favorite recipe.

Developers who have previewed the WatchKit tools and APIs are eager to start building on the personal and immediate experiences Apple Watch will offer users.*

“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,” said John Kosner, executive vice president of Digital and Print Media, ESPN. “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.”

“Apple Watch allows us to make the Instagram experience even more intimate and in the moment,” says Kevin Systrom, co-founder and CEO of Instagram. “With actionable notifications you can see and instantly like a photo or react with an emoji. The Instagram news and watch list allows you to see your friends’ latest photos, follow new accounts and get a real-time view of your likes and comments.”

“The American Airlines app on Apple Watch reminds you when it’s time to head to the airport via pre-trip notifications, and provides updates for gate changes, connecting gate info upon arrival, and will notify you when boarding begins if you’re not at the gate yet,” said John Gustafson, American Airlines vice president of Digital. “Travelers can also ask ‘Where am I?’ in-flight and get real-time location information at 30,000 ft.”

The iOS 8.2 SDK beta including WatchKit is available immediately for iOS Developer Program members at developer.apple.com/watchkit
. The WatchKit site includes programming guides, human interface guidelines, templates and more. Starting later next year, developers will be able to create fully native apps for Apple Watch.

* App features are subject to change and may not be available in all regions or all languages. Apple Watch requires iPhone 5 or later.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.

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Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...

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