Apple’s wearable: An opportunity for app developers?

Apple has given a select few companies, including Facebook, an early wearable SDK, signalling that third-party apps will run on its new wrist-wearable.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Given Apple hasn't even let on whether it is will announce a wearable, it's no surprise it hasn't mentioned a software development kit (SDK) for the device. But according to 9to5Mac, Apple has quietly handed out an SDK for wearables to a select few, including Facebook, in preparation for Tuesday's launch event.

Accoridng to a source of 9to5Mac, Apple very recently issued the pre-release SDK to a small number of high-profile social network and services companies with iPhone and iPad apps available through the App Store.

While it seems a given that Apple's new wearable would support third-party, Apple could for example, make it off limits as it did for its TouchID feature in the iPhone 5S, which it will open up in iOS 8.  

The publication also notes two sources with knowledge of Apple's wearable who said it may come equipped an App Store, though it's not clear whether it will be its own dedicated store or a companion of the store for iPhone apps.

Apple is tipped to be unveiling its wearable on Tuesday alongside the iPhone 6, but while the phone is expected to be available within weeks, consumers probably won't be able to get their hands on the wearable until 2015. The additional time will give iOS developers time to polish up their apps before the device goes on sale.

Developers have had since June to begin testing out iOS 8’s new widgets, Health Kit and Home Kit, which are expected to be integral components to the sensor laden wrist-wearable. 9to5Mac notes that Apple's SDK will make use of iOS 8 features like and Widgets, as well as Continuity and Handoff — Apple's effort to integrate communications across the iPhone, iPad and Mac — to handle content transfers between an iPhone and the wearable.

The other big feature expected to come with Apple's wearable and iPhone 6 is a near field communications (NFC) chip, which could kickstart NFC for payments — something that Android devices have failed to do, despite being available for several years .

One of the key advantages over NFC-payments in a wearable over a phone is that the owner wouldn't need to take the device out of their pocket at a payment terminal. It would also build on a concept Disney has shown does work through its MagicBand (ahead of this week's product launch, Apple and Disney have begin rolling out upgraded versions of iBeacon sensors and NFC readers in the US, according to 9to5Mac.)

Other signs pointing to a major push by Apple into payments are deals it recently signed with Mastercard, Visa and American Express, which again are expected to be announced on Tuesday.

Editorial standards