The floodgates have been opened: Apple has launched a new program for official third-party Apple Watch bands, 9to5Mac reports.
“Made for Apple Watch” supplies accessory developers with guidelines on how to build third-party straps for the Cupertino company’s new smartwatch. While some companies have already promised to develop accessories for the device, this constitutes the first official guidance on how to do so in a way that Apple approves of.
As 9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman points out, it’s similar to Apple’s existing “MFi” accessory program for iPhones, iPods, and iPads — and like MFi, it’s likely to usher in a huge wave of new accessories and customisation option for customers’ devices.
The Apple Watch contains a hidden diagnostic port that some developers have planned to utilise to extend the smartwatch’s battery life. The Reserve Strap, for example, says it will be able to “achieve a higher charge capacity and quicker, more efficient charging times.”
But the official guidance does not mention the port, indicating that Apple has no intention of (officially) letting developers access it. In another sign of Apple’s unwillingness to allow third-party charging functionality, the guidelines specify that bands “must not integrate magnetic chargers.”