Made for Apple Watch launched as accessory makers eye up diagnostic port

Will straps be the new apps?
Made for Apple Watch launched for straps

Apple wants more Apple Watch straps but Cupertino is set to be its usually picky self when it comes to approving third party accessories.

It has just announced the launch of its Made for Apple Watch program - a list of requirements for designers and makers to meet before straps get the Apple seal of approval. Like the Made for iPhone stamp, this means that if you want to build an Apple Watch band or strap you'll have to jump through a few hoops first.

Read this: 5 easy ways to improve Apple Watch battery life

For instance, straps must fit well enough that the heart rate sensor has the best chance of working - after its early problems with tattoos and darker skin, it doesn't need any more obstacles.

Magnetic chargers in straps are not allowed and though designers can create their own 'lugs' which hold the straps in place they must be made from Apple-approved materials. Apple will be providing its own 'lugs' for developers. There's also rules on complying with the environmental regulations in the country where the Apple Watch will be sold.

You can read Apple's guidelines here.

Smarter straps

This approach is the exact opposite of Pebble's Smartstraps program. CEO Eric Migicovsky said that if someone wants to build a strap for Pebble, no matter what it does or looks like, he's not going to stop them. Pebble will sell third party straps on its store but it's up to the user to determine the quality and usefulness.

From the get-go the Pebble plan was to increase the functionality of the smartwatch without requiring the user to buy a new device every time. This doesn't seem to be Apple's mission. Jonathan Ive believes he has created the perfect smartwatch so the Made for Apple Watch program looks to aim only to increase its status as a fashion statement, a wearable gadget to personalise.

Still, it might not be up to Ive and co. Since before the launch developers have been wondering what they could do with the six-pin diagnostic port on the underside of the Apple Watch. The port transmits data and also transfers power faster than the charging panel which is why we should expect to see plenty of unofficial accessories such as Reserve Strap which will charge your Watch.

As 9to5mac reports, the team said: "By utilising this port instead of wirelessly charging, we've been able to achieve a higher charge capacity and quicker, more efficient charging times while also improving durability and eliminating any interference with Apple Watch functionality including taptic feedback and heart rate sensors."

Reserve Strap, in white, gray and black and to fit both 38mm and 42mm sizes, is up for pre-order now for the rather high price of $249.

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