Apple launches guidelines for third-party Watch band makers

Future Watch bands should be environmentally friendly, snug-fitting, and non-magnetic, among other requirements, says Apple.

Apple has revealed Made for Apple Watch, a program that sets out detailed instructions for third-party makers on how to make Watch bands.

With the third-party Watch bands already beginning to appear on Kickstarter and elsewhere, Made for Apple Watch details its requirements for would-be accessory makers with a special focus on design and build requirements for straps and lugs for the Watch. Made for Apple Watch joins the company's existing programs for third-party makers of add-ons for iPhone, iPads, and iPods under its MFi program.

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In two documents, Apple lays out a list of mandatory requirements that band makers need to comply with to be part of the program, as well as specifies the suggested standards they should meet.

Among the mandatory requirements for third-party accessory makers are meeting environmental regulations for the regions the bands will be sold in, particularly with regard to European Union restrictions on metals such as tin, nickel, cadmium, lead, nickel, and hexavalent chromium and formaldehyde in leather.

Apple also outlines more obvious requirements, including that bands must not obstruct the user's skin from being in direct contact with the Watch so as to interfere with the heart rate sensor or the Watch's Apple Pay features.

"Bands intended for use during exercise should maintain a snug fit through a full range of motion to maintain compatibility with Apple Watch heart rate sensors," it says.

Other than that, bands shouldn't have sharp edges and wearers should be able to adjust them to create a snug fit.

While there has been one band already developed that offers extra battery power for the Watch, it might not get the 'Made for Watch' green light: Apple's guidelines state that bands "must not integrate magnetic chargers". Apple hasn't provided specifications for developing third-party magnetic chargers.

The company has also released specifications for the Apple Watch lug, the magnetic metal contraption on the top and bottom of the Watch that holds bands in place.

The recently-discovered six-pin port, ostensibly used for diagnostics, is also not mentioned in the specifications. However, as one third-party band developer has found out, it can also be used to charge the device.

Apple has taken a very different approach to how it displays the Watch in its stores compared with its other devices. Instead of being on display and available to touch, it has followed the watch industry, keeping models under a glass display and requiring customers to book an appointment for a closer look.

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