Following much speculation, Apple publicly introduced its first smartwatch at a headline-grabbing event on Tuesday. The Apple Watch will be in stores early next year, and with it will come plenty of new possibilities in custom application development.
There is really no precedent for a smartwatch from one of the major mobile device makers, which means that the months leading up to its release will likely be a flurry of activity and experimentation on the part of developers. At the unveiling, Apple CEO Tim Cook explained that the Apple Watch will work in conjunction with an iPhone, so many design and functionality elements will be similar. But the watch runs on its own operating system, Watch OS, and has many unique features.
During the presentation, Cook spoke at length about HealthKit, an application programming interface (API) that allows developers to work on health care-related software and tie it in with Apple's own Health app. Indeed, the introduction focused heavily on the Apple Watch's health and fitness applications. The watch will work as a monitor, tracking heart rate as well as the wearer's movements and physical activity, including whether they're walking, jogging or cycling.
Similarly, HomeKit is an API that will link mobile devices with smart home appliances. Other features that were mentioned included locating a car in a crowded parking lot and unlocking a hotel room door. One of the elements that has the greatest potential to be a true game-changer is the ability to use the device as a credit card through the use of near field communication.
For companies that deal in mobile software development, the Apple Watch is a whole new world to explore, with plenty of untapped potential and whose limits we won't fully know for months.