Developers can now start working on Apple Watch software

Apple announced on Tuesday that it is making an Apple Watch software development kit available to developers, as had been promised during Apple’s recent iPad launch event. Developers can download the iOS 8.2 SDK beta — which includes WatchKit — from Apple’s developer website.

Even though the SDK is now available, most developers won’t get to try out their apps and software on an actual Apple Watch yet. Apple’s smartwatch is expected to launch early next year.

apple watch sdk screenshot

Even if you’re not a developer, the SDK provides the best look at Apple Watch’s features and functions since the device was first previewed in September.

For instance, the SDK includes human interface guidelines, templates, and a 20-minute video that explains the design thought process behind Apple Watch apps and how to best design for a small screen.

Developers can build three kinds of Apple Watch “experiences”:

Glance examples provided by Apple

Two examples of Apple Watch glances

• Glances, which are informational screens meant to be digested quickly

An example of a Apple Watch notification

An example of a Apple Watch notification

• Actionable notifications, which allow users to respond from their wrists

An example of a WatchKit app from American Airlines

An example of a WatchKit app from American Airlines

• WatchKit apps, which require an extension that runs on a paired iPhone.

However, it looks as if [company]Apple[/company] hasn’t handed over all the controls to make Apple Watch apps yet. From the press release: “Starting later next year, developers will be able to create fully native apps for Apple Watch.” The main difference is that WatchKit apps partially run on an iPhone and the Apple Watch primarily handles the user interface, whereas native apps will run more fully on Apple Watch hardware.

two-part SDK rollout was expected by many developers.

Apple’s press release quotes executives from ESPN, Instagram, and American Airlines, which strongly suggests that those companies will have Apple Watch apps ready when the wearable computer goes on sale early next year.

All images courtesy of Apple