Apple publishes Apple Watch band design guidelines for accessory makers

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited May 2015
Apple on Monday posted to its website a previously unreleased document detailing Apple Watch band design guidelines for third-party manufacturers interested in making aftermarket straps for the device.




Added to Apple's Developer Resources webpage, "Band Design Guidelines for Apple Watch" (PDF link) offers an extensive overview of the stringent regulations to which third-party accessory makers must abide if they wish to market Watch-compatible straps.

The document carries a revision date of April 24, the same day Apple Watch launched worldwide.

In the document, Apple notes all band accessories must meet environmental regulations while maintaining a high level of durability as assessed by reliability tests measuring corrosion, metal purity and strength, among others. Special consideration is given to band lugs, integral components that mate straps to Watch by interfacing with Apple's proprietary magnetic attachment system.

Design specification regulations are expectedly strict. Apple notes that accessories must allow full Watch functionality, including direct access to the device's heart rate sensor, a clause that prohibits manufacturers from creating bands with magnetic charging capabilities. Cases that block transmission of Apple Pay near-field communications are likewise forbidden.

The document includes highly detailed schematics of both 38mm and 42mm Apple Watch chassis, as well as individual specifications for the magnetic band interface and lug design.

A separate download contains an Apple Watch lug Drawing Exchange Format (DXF) file for mocking up designs in drafting software like AutoCAD. Apple says official Apple Watch lugs "will be available soon" the new Made for Apple Watch program.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    I didn't expect this so quick. I hope Apple has good standards in place because I fear this will open the floodgates to cheap bands more so than additional high quality options.
  • Reply 2 of 24
    suddenly newtonsuddenly newton Posts: 13,739member
    rogifan wrote: »
    I didn't expect this so quick. I hope Apple has good standards in place because I fear this will open the floodgates to cheap bands more so than additional high quality options.

    It doesn't look possible to prevent the sale of non-compliant watch bands on the open market. Apple can withhold a logo, but the junk makers will just ignore it.
  • Reply 3 of 24
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,492member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    I didn't expect this so quick. I hope Apple has good standards in place because I fear this will open the floodgates to cheap bands more so than additional high quality options.



    It hasn't stopped the flood of cheap Chinese junk before.  Will a consumer buying a $2 knockoff wristband result in their watch catching fire and burning their wrist off?

  • Reply 4 of 24
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,976member
    sflocal wrote: »

    It hasn't stopped the flood of cheap Chinese junk before.  Will a consumer buying a $2 knockoff wristband result in their watch catching fire and burning their wrist off?
    Or get irritated by chemical treatment on the band. No thanks, sport band or Melanese loop is good enough for everything.
  • Reply 5 of 24
    hmmhmm Posts: 3,405member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    I didn't expect this so quick. I hope Apple has good standards in place because I fear this will open the floodgates to cheap bands more so than additional high quality options.

    They probably figured it would happen either way. If they provide excellent specifications, perhaps some of those third party bands will turn out better.

  • Reply 6 of 24
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 1,831member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    I didn't expect this so quick. I hope Apple has good standards in place because I fear this will open the floodgates to cheap bands more so than additional high quality options.

    The market will decide which bands win, which don't. In the end, the consumer wins by having different choices and ways to personalize their Apple Watch.

  • Reply 7 of 24
    sflagelsflagel Posts: 585member
    I'd be interested to see if Apple can legally enforce these specifications. Are there laws to prohibit a manufacturer to produce any accessory for any product, if it does not make that product illegal to operate? I assume these specs are required to get an "official Apple accessory" certification. Good to see that Apple sets down some guidelines, this will increase the likelihood of quality accessories.
  • Reply 8 of 24
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,492member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sflagel View Post



    I'd be interested to see if Apple can legally enforce these specifications. Are there laws to prohibit a manufacturer to produce any accessory for any product, if it does not make that product illegal to operate? I assume these specs are required to get an "official Apple accessory" certification. Good to see that Apple sets down some guidelines, this will increase the likelihood of quality accessories.



    I doubt it.  Consider those tons of Chinese knockoff iPhone/iPad chargers and cables.  They look like the real thing, yet have been proven time-and-time again to be an electrical hazard, blow iPhone batteries, set fire to cables, etc...  Apple even offered to replace those knockoff chargers with Apple-certified ones to end the bad press back then... name another company that would do that?



    And then there will be those people that will complain - as they always do about anything Apple - and say "Why should I pay $50 for that <insert Apple accessory here> when I can buy it from some obscure eBay Chinese seller for $1.99 with free shipping!!!" and then b!tch as to why their Apple product was ruined.  Of course, they will blame Apple for it.



    Apple won't be able to stop that.  

  • Reply 9 of 24
    simply258simply258 Posts: 100member
    If you don't follow the specs, you can't display "Made for Apple Watch" logo on your product. Simple as that.
  • Reply 10 of 24
    sflagelsflagel Posts: 585member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by simply258 View Post



    If you don't follow the specs, you can't display "Made for Apple Watch" logo on your product. Simple as that.

    Thanks. The article does not make that clear.

  • Reply 11 of 24
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,782member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    I didn't expect this so quick. I hope Apple has good standards in place because I fear this will open the floodgates to cheap bands more so than additional high quality options.

     

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by CanukStorm View Post

     

    The market will decide which bands win, which don't. In the end, the consumer wins by having different choices and ways to personalize their Apple Watch.




    Except for the fact that Apple always gets blamed when a third party accessory causes trouble, never the third party manufacturer. Like all other third party accessories buy only the Apple approved ones (Made for Apple Watch) and avoid the mall kiosk stuff.

  • Reply 12 of 24
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,836member
    sflagel wrote: »
    I'd be interested to see if Apple can legally enforce these specifications. Are there laws to prohibit a manufacturer to produce any accessory for any product, if it does not make that product illegal to operate? I assume these specs are required to get an "official Apple accessory" certification. Good to see that Apple sets down some guidelines, this will increase the likelihood of quality accessories.

    Yes, this is for licensees. Apple has patents on their connector for the watch bands which will be ignored by knockoff manufacturers, but those interested in selling product through Apple Stores will obviously need to pay Apple and be certified.
  • Reply 13 of 24
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,836member
    lkrupp wrote: »



    Except for the fact that Apple always gets blamed when a third party accessory causes trouble, never the third party manufacturer. Like all other third party accessories buy only the Apple approved ones (Made for Apple Watch) and avoid the mall kiosk stuff.

    I bought a cheap iPhone case from a mall kiosk and it's perfectly acceptable. It's worth the $5 or $8 spent.
  • Reply 14 of 24
    brucemcbrucemc Posts: 1,519member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post





    Yes, this is for licensees. Apple has patents on their connector for the watch bands which will be ignored by knockoff manufacturers, but those interested in selling product through Apple Stores will obviously need to pay Apple and be certified.

    It is not just selling through Apple Stores, but (for any country with applicable laws:) also allows Apple to take steps against vendors which attempt to sell "made for Apple Watch" accessories which are not licensed.

  • Reply 15 of 24
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,836member
    brucemc wrote: »
    It is not just selling through Apple Stores, but (for any country with applicable laws:) also allows Apple to take steps against vendors which attempt to sell "made for Apple Watch" accessories which are not licensed.

    They'll certainly have that option, but knockoffs are almost impossible to squash. The moment almost anything comes out, there are 100 ripoff versions from China or Korea on the boat, headed for sale everywhere.
  • Reply 16 of 24
    brucemcbrucemc Posts: 1,519member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post





    They'll certainly have that option, but knockoffs are almost impossible to squash. The moment almost anything comes out, there are 100 ripoff versions from China or Korea on the boat, headed for sale everywhere.

    Oh, I know.  Like playing whack-a-mole.  It gives them a tool to use when applicable though.

  • Reply 17 of 24
    toysandmetoysandme Posts: 193member

    I wonder if the manufacturers of arm band batteries will be allowed with their products on the Apple watch without ruining the warranty? I doubt it but... 

  • Reply 18 of 24
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,291member

    This is an important piece of the puzzle. Seems pretty clear that allowing third party bands and licensing them has been in the works for some time. Apple is neatly sidestepping the PR issue of "who the hell is Apple to tell me what I can do with my watch?" Lots of interesting press haunting International Harvester on the issue (involving the software in their farm equipment.)

     

    I wondered if Apple was going to make their bands with an ID chip (or similar) to deactivate the watch if it wasn't attached to a Apple branded band. Looks like that isn't going to happen.

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post





    I bought a cheap iPhone case from a mall kiosk and it's perfectly acceptable. It's worth the $5 or $8 spent.

    I'm not sure that apple has iPhone case attachment patents. Watch has at least a design patent on the attach mechanism. But of course, how aggressive Apple is going to be with their patent enforcement is still unknown. Doubt they are after the mall kiosks.

  • Reply 19 of 24
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,399member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by eightzero View Post

     

    I wondered if Apple was going to make their bands with an ID chip (or similar) to deactivate the watch if it wasn't attached to a Apple branded band. Looks like that isn't going to happen... I'm not sure that apple has iPhone case attachment patents. Watch has at least a design patent on the attach mechanism. But of course, how aggressive Apple is going to be with their patent enforcement is still unknown. Doubt they are after the mall kiosks.


     

    The reference to "Apple's proprietary magnetic attachment system" make me scratch my head ... is this in reference to the lugs? There is a piece of metal exposed in the center hole of the lug. Could this be a way to thwart unauthorized bands?

     

    ?I think Apple is vigilant with patent protection. Where they can easily sue, they likely do in order to protect their patents and trademarks, or risk losing them. But looking at how they have handled the lightening connector would be a good indication as to how they will handle third party bands. The key is in the marketing. Likely most Apple customers buy their accessories through the Apple Store, or Best Buy, or other Apple authorized retailer. Amazon doesn't technically sell those unauthorized Apple products from questionable Chinese vendors, so that may be how they get around allowing them to be sold through the website, and how many people are actually buying their Apple accessories that way? I'd bet less than impulse buy in a store. So getting that "made for Apple" product endorsement is a big deal for most manufacturers.

  • Reply 20 of 24
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    rogifan wrote: »
    I didn't expect this so quick. I hope Apple has good standards in place because I fear this will open the floodgates to cheap bands more so than additional high quality options.

    how is that fear-inducing? there is always cheap stuff available to cheap consumers.
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