A key feature of Apple’s new smartwatch is the ability to switch bands, and Apple is telling third-party developers how to design them.
Apple wants to make sure that bands designed by third parties for its Apple Watch are designed the right way.
A new page on Apple’s website called “Creating Bands for Apple Watch” is aimed specifically at developers who want to get in on the watchband bandwagon. The page specifically links to a 13-page document called “Band Design Guidelines for Apple Watch” with the dos and don’ts of creating an Apple Watch band.
The guidelines are important for developers to follow as Apple has promised that owners of its new smartwatch can easily swap out bands. But you can’t just swap out your existing band for a generic one that you’d find in any retail store. The bands for the Apple Watch are proprietary, so developers must follow Apple’s guidelines in order to ensure that their straps will be approved and certified for the watch.
Some Apple Watch bands from third-parties are already available. Casetify, for example, offers a $50 band for which you can custom-design the look, and a stainless steel band from MyCell is selling for $244.49.
Apple’s own watchbands, meanwhile, come in six different types (with various colors and sizes for each type): Sport Band, Milanese Loop, Classic Buckle, Leather Loop, Modern Buckle and Link Bracelet. Prices range from $49 to $449.
Prospective band developers will have to follow certain rules and regulations. The bands and the lugs that lock them into place must pass certain strenuous tests for corrosion, force and resistance. Developers must ensure that the watch’s heart rate sensor on its back maintains contact with the skin. Apple even recommends the type of material that should be used to manufacture the band.
One guideline says that the band must have “adjustability for the user to achieve a snug, yet comfortable, fit that prevents movement of Apple Watch relative to skin.” Some Apple Watch wearers have complained of skin irritation, according to Boy Genius Report and other sources. Apple has even posted a support document for users whose skin may be sensitive to the watch, explaining why skin irritation may occur and how to wear and care for the device.
Apple did not immediately respond to CNET’s request for comment.