If you’re a fervent Apple fan eagerly awaiting the company’s first smartwatch in early 2015, take solace in the news that developers of all sorts can now code apps for the device.
That’s thanks to WatchKit, the tools and tutorials package that Apple just launched to allow developers to take their existing iOS app experiences and loop in Apple Watch support, or even develop brand new iPhone apps that make the wearable the focus in the user experience.
“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 Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing.
From the tools – which are part of the iOS 8.2 SDK in the latest beta release of Xcode 6 – we now know that the two Apple Watch models have varying resolutions, with the 1.5in model running at 272×340, while the larger 1.65in model runs at 312×390.[youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-waTi8BPdk”]
And apps have three opportunities for user interactions: being a full-fledged app experience with a unique UI, providing a Glance screen with read-only information, and delivering actionable notifications that users can respond to right from the device.
However, The Verge notes that Apple Watch apps currently must run as extensions of iPhone apps, and that fully native Apple Watch apps aren’t an option just yet (but will be sometime in 2015). So even if an app is designed primarily for Apple Watch interactions, it’ll have a home on the paired iPhone and pull its updates from the handset.
Getting the development community onboard months in advance of the Apple Watch launch can only help Apple’s chances with marketing the device, developers’ chances of having great Watch apps ready on day one, and users’ chances of having a comfortable, complete-feeling experience right out of the gate.
Given the paucity of Android Wear apps at the moment, this could be a significant move to really set the Apple Watch apart from the wearables pack in not only design, but also functionality when it finally debuts sometime early next year.