Third-party Apple Watch bands are coming

How third-party bands are allowed to work with Apple Watch


Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

One of the biggest questions surrounding the Apple Watch has been what kind of accessories will be allowed to work with the device. Several third-party companies have already started advertising their own bands and cases, but Apple has yet to introduce any kind of formal guidelines.

Until now.

Like its iPhone counterpart, the new “Made for Apple Watch” program outlines how third-party manufacturers can make their own bands. Here are some of the key takeaways:

“Bands for Apple Watch must integrate two lugs that mate with the Apple Watch Band Interface”

Photo: Apple

Apple will provide lugs to approved members of the Made for Apple Watch program that connect third-party bands. According to Apple’s documentation, “lugs should lock into the band mating slot with a ‘lug latch’ feature that prevents accidental removal of the band.”

“Bands must not integrate magnetic chargers”

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Apple clearly wants to make sure its inductive charging for the Watch is a proprietary experience, so no Mophie-like bands that use their own charging systems. It doesn’t look like this rule necessarily prohibits ideas like the Reserve strap, which connects to the Watch’s six-pin port to provide a charge from the band’s built-in battery.

It was recently discovered that the port can be used for charging, so expect to see battery bands. They just won’t be wirelessly charged like the Watch itself.

“Bands must not prevent the user’s skin from maintaining direct contact with the Apple Watch heart rate sensors”

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Photo: Jim Merithew / Cult of Mac

“Failure to do so may interfere with Apple Watch wrist detect and Apple Pay features,” warns Apple.

“A well-designed band will securely attach to Apple Watch while not interfering with its operation”

This kind of band on the Apple Watch? Doubtful.

Big, protective Apple Watch cases likely won’t be compatible with Apple’s program if they inhibit any part of the Watch’s usefulness. So you probably won’t see a heavy duty OtterBox case for the Apple Watch. Or if you do, it won’t be part of the Made for Apple Watch program or have Cupertino’s blessing.

If you’re interested in Apple’s new Made for Apple Watch program for bands, the documentation can be found here (.pdf). Apple also updated the Watch’s Human Interface Guidelines today for app developers.


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