Apple Watch apps ahoy as developers get their hands on WatchKit

18 Nov 2014

Apple has revealed that WatchKit, its development kit for creating apps for the forthcoming Apple Watch, is now available for developers to begin writing apps for the new smartwatch.

Capabilities included in the new WatchKit are the ability to create Glances – at-a-glance notifications based on context.

Developers can create notifications that allow users to take action or respond right from their wrist, such as turning lights off after they’ve left the house, access flight details at the airport, or get a new route option when a train, plane or bus is late.

Developers can also incorporate other kinds of information, including the latest news, sports scores or the next step of a recipe into Glances.

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, Apple said.

Apple also revealed its new Apple Watch will only be compatible with devices from the iPhone 5 and up.

“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.”

What the developers are saying about WatchKit

The iOS 8.2 SDK beta including WatchKit is available immediately for iOS Developer Program members at

Here’s what the first-movers are saying about apps on the new Apple Watch:

Kevin Systrom, co-founder and CEO of Instagram

“Apple Watch allows us to make the Instagram experience even more intimate and in the moment. 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.”

John Kosner, executive vice-president of Digital and Print Media, ESPN

“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 favourite teams. 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.”

John Gustafson, American Airlines vice-president of Digital

“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. Travellers can also ask ‘Where am I?’ in-flight and get real-time location information at 30,000 feet.”

Smartwatch image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years