Smartwatch API support for Windows Phone 8.1 found in GDR1 update

For a few months now, you may have heard us mention that smartwatches and smart accessories were on the horizon for Windows Phone, especially towards August and September. The FitBit app announced last week is the first in that volley, and more are coming later this month.

Developer Jeremy Sinclair has now gone through the Update 1 for Windows Phone 8.1 that is rolling out today for Preview users and documented all the new APIs available. It is quite telling, as many of these APIs are to handle background and telephony tasks for those connected devices.

Posted at Pastebin, the data makes it is clear developers can write apps to handle phone calls (accept, reject, make a call with video, etc.), alarms (snooze, dismiss), reminders (snooze, dismiss), and to handle notifications. Some other examples of added functionality include:

  • Apps can check the status of Quiet Hours and Driving Mode
  • Support for video phone calls
  • GetApps() will return a list of apps installed

These APIs are not yet defined in the SDK for public developers. Instead, they are for OEMs and hardware manufacturers e.g. if a company like Pebble wanted to make an app for Windows Phone they now have the tools to do so. Pebble could create an app that pulls up notifications from the phone, respects the phone's defined Quiet Hours, and pullup a list of phone apps that control things like which ones send notifications to the smartwatch. Presumably smartwatches with video cameras can handle incoming videophone calls as well.

Whether or not Microsoft is planning to open these APIs up to third party developers is not clear, though we are trying to learn more. Nevertheless, at least those companies who make smartwatches or smart accessory hardware have the tools now to do so on Window's Phone.

Indeed, those on Update 1 can even see evidence of this change through the new Settings > Accessory Apps section, where users can:

"Turn notifications on or off for any accessory companion apps. Turning on notifications allows an app to receive your notification data, such as text messages and Caller IDs."

This section is clearly where Windows Phone users can manage apps that have access to the phone's core notification system, useful for that new smart hardware.

Source: Pastebin; Thanks, Jeremy, for the tip; Also thanks to Daniel Gary for assistance

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • Sweet
  • Things are getting even more interesting.
  • Yes! Looking forward to Microsoft's smartband which should come in October.
  • Me too and eagerly hoping for a surface cell phone... Satya needs to bring it and stop waiting around for others to do it first!
  • Too late - just bought myself a Fitbit!
  • Hi, Can you please guide me, whom to contact in MS team to get access of those APIs in windows 8.1 if I wish to be one of the hardware manufacture?
  • How to get Cortana in India now after updating to GDR1?
  • Change language and speech to English UK.
  • what about Middle East?when it will be available.any idea?
  • Change your region, language, keyboard, speech to English India and enable location services and restart (Cortana is still in alpha status for India, better change all these settings to English US and get Cortana beta)
  • lol help and give feedback  cortana alpha by keeping it as India .If you want to serve india well they need more and more data .Let micosoft know India has sizable population of WP
  • I will first get GDR1 then Cortana India alpha
  • I'm eager to know what can microsofts smart watch will do to make ppl more attract
  • We are too! There keeping it closer to the hip than past products.
  • Finally, an article by someone else ... Poor John :D
  • GetApps() will surely be a welcome addition for customization apps.
  • If you what you mean by "customization apps" is apps to customize the OS, then its unlikely, if these APIs are indeed limited to smart accessories. But then again, Nokia AppSocial has the ability to pull up installed apps, and has long before these APIs, so maybe Microsoft would open the usage up to a wider range of apps... Who knows.
  • Could they use this to implement a better app like Pushbullet and send the notificacions to a PC instead of a smartwatch! What do you think? (I know the app exists but it does NOT send the notifications to the PC so is not very useful to me). 
  • Nice!!!
    Update 1 is interesting... Live folders are awesome, and much more than just a folder for apps...
    Once again MS has taken a traditional idea and made it more useful than the competition... If only they knew how to advertise all the great features of WP8.1-1
  • 720
  • Please elaborate on how they have made app folders more useful than the competition.  Full disclaimer: I own an iPhone 5s, an HTC One Max and a Lumia 1520. So, I have a good handle on all the major platforms and can sniff out fanboy drivel a mile away. 
  • Did you read what I said?.. I already explained why these folder are better...
    First of all are the icons on the iPhone even live? No, so even if you group them up into a folder it would still just be folder of static icons, not live tiles... Really?.. I'm getting folders on my 1520 that are displaying updated information, from totally different apps, on the same live tile now.. That's something that no other platform does... And, sure widgets are dynamic, but can you group widgets into a "folder" and have that folder cycle all of the information from every widget on the front of the folder??... This is what live folders are doing....
    Have you installed the preview❓❓ Because, I didn't think the folders would have as much potential until I started playing around with them.. They really are very useful, and dynamic FOR A FOLDER... That's what I'm saying... MS has kinda revolutionized the idea of a simple folder here... It's not the most ground breaking thing a company has ever done, but it's definitely new...
    So, Mr. multi platform, thinking you have ultimate information over everyone else,,, sniff away.... And, watch who you're trying to call out for being a blind fan, because anyone here will tell you that I'm the biggest WP fan therefore I'm SUPER critical of MS,, especially when it comes to marketing..... Heck, if you didn't know better you would think I hated MS at times❕❕❕❕❕❕❕❕❕
  • I agree with you about the folders. Very clever way of doing it. I hated the ideas of folders, because I was thinking they'd do something crappy like what HTC and Nokia did with their app folders. But this is excellent.
  • Yes, I have installed preview update 1. It is clear that WP is maturing really quickly and I am very pleased by it. Yes, the folders are very nice. More useful than the competition's?... no. The iPhone icons are not live tiles. iPhones users know and love this. It gives the number of alerts that are unread/unviewed, that is it. When in a folder the icons retain this ability. Nothing is removed. Nothing is added.  Windows live tiles. When added to a folder retain their ability. Nothing is removed. Nothing is added.  So, I fail to see how this is any different from what the other platforms have. I really don't. They all share the same characteristics of; the apps overlap each other and create a folder. They all become smaller versions of themselves. Nothing more. Nothing less.  In othe words, nothing changed. If, for example, the apps, when put in a folder, can be opened and and used to a certain extent without leaving the homescreen, then  I would agree with you, that would be an ADDED use. But for just MAINTAINING its original attributes.... that does not add any other form of usefulness besides organizing your homescreen. And, the folders on the other platforms achieve the same thing. IMHO. 
  • Lol!!!.. That was the sorriest excuse to make a point that I think I've seen on WPC ever!!.... Please... Give credit where credit is due... Sounds like you're the "fanboi" here.... God I hate that stupid term... Lol!
  • That awkward moment when you realize you've given the guy you're responding to way too much credit....
  • Well, I'm sorry.. I just have to disagree with you.. This is the best implementation of a folder I've seen, even if it inherently is the Live Tiles that add to the main functionality of the folders.... Either way better, is better, no matter how much you try to dumb it down... In the end, when you use a folder on a WP device more information is shown from outside of the folder period, point blank... Who would argue with that?
  • I agree with this. Though... at the same time, Update 1 does animate the icons on the folder tile, giving it a "live" appearance. It doesnt add any functionality, but nicer looking than just a static folder icon. However, this point is subject to personal opinion. Some enjoy the static icon.
  • I've never heard anyone say that they enjoy a static icon more than a dynamic one, although I'm sure some haters have untruthfully said that... Being able to display more information is just better.. That technically IS more functional.. These are two sided tiles, not on sided icons..
  • No offense, but you do come off a bit "fanboy-ish". I'm not accusing you of having a fanboy mentality by no streatch of the imaginiation, as that would be unkind of me, but it may help to not come off as one if you structure your comments to where they are more informative and clear on what you mean, without excessive emotional statements, run on sentences ("..." usage), and laid out in an organized manner where each point is covered in whole.   Furthermore, your argument actually is directed more towards the tile system as a whole rather than the Folder implementation in Windows Phone, as the actualy folder implementation has no distinctive differences when compared to other platforms, other than animating the tile icons when no "live" information is present. To make a comparison:   Android - Displays notification count overlayed on top of the folder icon. Applications grouped within and expand to reveal grouped applications in operation similar to home screen. Folder depicts static representation of grouped applications' icons.   iOS - Displays notification count overlayed on top of the folder icon. Applications grouped within and expand to reveal grouped applications in operation similar to home screen. Folder depicts static representation of grouped applications' icons.   Windows Phone - Displays the available live tile information and notification count upon tile Applications grouped within and expand to reveal grouped applications in operation similar to home screen Folder depicts animated representation of grouped applications' icons   as one can see, Windows Phone's folder system only has one unique trait, being the animation of grouped application icons, while as it's other feature, unique to the operating system, is an inherited trait of the Operating System, and as such would not be fair to be used in consideration of the quality of implementation of the folder system on the 3 major platforms. Such inherited quality would, however, be useful in the comparison of the icon system across the three operating systems, as the former two in the list lack support for live information, with their only ability being that to display a numeric count of the number of undread notifications ontop of the icon in one of it's four corners.
  • Dude.. Chill out!.. I think these folders are the best I've seen... How is all that waist of time you just wrote going to convince me otherwise?... Let it go!
  • I haven't used an Android phone for more than a few minutes, but I can see that some versions of it would have something like live folders. But iOS has nothing like the live folder in Update 1.
  • Oh, well aren't you just special.
  • *Shrug* We all have our vices. Like Daniel Rubino, I am a tech junkie. Sorry. 
  • Wish I didn't have to pin everything to my start screen to make the folder. Something like app folder from Nokia. Nonetheless I love the feature.
  • True!!.. It would be nice to be able to just put folders in the app menu.... That mess of a settings menu could use some user customizable grouping as well...
  • Could 8.1 update 2 bring this feature you guys are talking about?
  • Anything is possible... Joe mentioned something about how the settings menu,,, they are looking into it.... I'm just surprised we still don't have USBOTG, but prioritization takes precedence with these updates.... WP is very functional now!
  • i just hope i don't have to downgrade to WP8.0 again to get Update 2 on launch date :P
  • You'll know the awnswer to that if you have to downgrade to get the official Update 1, which in order to get the official update 1 I'm sure we're going to have to go back to 8.1-0... And, that's fine because the official update 1 will possibly have more to offer, and less bugs...
    If we get the DP of 8.1-2 then we're going to have to downgrade back to 8.1-1 to get the official 8.1-2... That seems to be the way it's working.... But, we might not have to downgrade at all.. That might be the case as well..
  • The settings menu REALLY needs an update...
  • I just wish we could pin any setting to the start screen... That way we can make our own settings folders, and organize them the way we want...
  • I prefer this method much more! I use a lot of apps like one note where I can pin sections of the app to my startscreen, with nokia's sstyle, you couldnt group sub pins like that, the way microsoft has it setup you can!
  • Will you need Cyan for this?  (lumia 810)
  • My best bet is that You will need the actual release of WP8.1 + Cyan in order to use this.
  • You don't need Cyan for this application. It works on my 925 official  Cyan and WP 8.1 GDR 1 The same on my two L 720 with Black and WP 8.1 GDR 1. Frankly it seems Cyan is not so important for our old phones. It doesn't reveal some function which were presented by MS until you have not X30 devices.
  • Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 (= GDR 1 [General Distribution Release 1] )
  • And Cyan for the BTLE ? 
  • Thanks.  I know.  :)  The Lumia 810 is the only Nokia/Microsoft device in the US that is not getting Cyan or 8.1.  I have the dev preview installed, but it looks like I wont be able to use these accessories without Cyan.  Needless to say, I'm not happy with TMO.
  • As far as I'm aware, the only device with firmware requirements is the Nokia Treasure Tag. Other than that, most devices that support Bluetooth 3.0 should support the Lumia 810, permitted the Operating System includes the required bluetooth profiles (which have been updated, as far as i know, with Update 1). And a firmware update wouldn't change the fact that devices that require Bluetooth 4.0 LE won't work.   As far as lack of firmware updates, as has been established countless times within the forums, it is unknown as to who the "blame" lies with, as there are numerous factors, known and unknown, that can prohibit the release of a software update, both in relation to T-mobile and Nokia (MS Mobile). Any and all statements not made officially by either party are otherwise purely speculation and/or rumor. One can also see that the release of Amber to the device would demonstrate that an EOL status != discontinuation of updates.
  • Only in the event that you are not registered with the Preview for Developers, as Windows Phone retrieves and installs carrier-authorized firmware alongside OS updates through the normal channels.   However, if you have registed with the Preview for Developers, you can continue to enjoy OS updates as soon as they arrive through the pre-release channels, both Pre-Release and Release editions, and will still continue to recieve carrier-authorized firmware updates, sans- Windows Updates, through the normal update channels, as it is released.
  • Good job
  • About time. I wish microsoft would be transparent on why these APIs are not being made pubilc. On android and iOS these types of capabilities are not reserved for only certain parties. I wonder if it is because the apis are still not finalized, or will be superseded by something else in Threshold and these are just stopgaps. Hopefully micrsoft will be doing some outreach to companies like Pebble to evangelize these new capabilities.
  • What? They are not "available" yet because the update is not released yet. It has only been pushed out to "Preview for Developers" not the general public. Once the OEMs add thier additions (most notably Nokia), then it will go to the carriers for approval. OEMs that do not add anything will release first. MS will document the APIs and anyone will be able to use them. The issue is only a very limited subset of users actually have the update. It literally came out a few hours ago. It will take months for normal users to get this update via carrier approval.
  • Did you read this in the article above: These APIs are not yet defined in the SDK for public developers. Instead, they are for OEMs and hardware manufacturers e.g. if a company like Pebble wanted to make an app for Windows Phone they now have the tools to do so. That is what I am talking about. According to this article, Microsoft is not making these API's public. It seems like you are confusing APIs and features.
  • Release it to the OEM's and hardware manufacturers to smooth out any wrinkles in the development process, get some apps and hardware made up to showcase the API's and then release it with the public release of WP8.1 gdr1 and voila.
  • Cool we are getting there
  • HELP , how can i exit the appscorner?????
  • long press Power Button, then swipe to right
  • but my power button is broken..
  • Forums. Please use them.
  • Already saw it in settings, but get really excited now
  • oh man if there'll be a Microsoft Windows Watch i'd get one!
  • I hoped for a Facebook fix *sight*
  • My gdr1 is downloading but not i stalling !!! Plss help
  • Please use our forums.
  • Where can we?
  • Exciting! Looks like I got on the Windows Phone train just as things are heating up :)
  • And the reason they wouldn't make this public to third party developers is? Why not?
  • GetApps() is very useful in making launchers.
    Microsoft please release an API for auto launching apps to make real launchers.
  • Yeah, really need good custom launchers and themes as in Android.
  • The Xbox music app didn't get updated!! When is it going to be able to?
  • Three much needed features :
    1. Wi-Fi Direct
    2. USB On-The-Go
    3. JIT (for emulators like PPSSPP)
    Tell me Daniel, can windows phone ever get them!
  • Wi-Fi direct came with 8.1. Developers need to make apps to utilize it.
  • Thanks for that and what about the other two
  • I wondering know when Bluetooth 4.0 will works low end lumia such as 720- live folders looks good but frankly speaking, it doesn't worth. Moreover, how developers could build some apps or maybe improvments in their existing apps if hey cannot work with bluetooth 4.0? Are there any reasons for this??? Anyone knows about?  
  • BT4.0 is a firmware thing. WP8.1 support BT4.0, but you need the firmware (cyan on Lumias).
  • Dear Xpider_MX, I really know about that, I'd just spread my feelings about that question, therefore in my viewpoint, when the majority of lumias that were selling in the world weren't the high ends, so I was thinking Micorsoft/Nokia should pay more attention with those devices. I know and I can figure out - everything is a market, I mean they really don't care (at least seems like) whether the final user can buy a 930, or a 520.
  • have one question friends I have update my Nokia Lumia 520 dp to update 1 in India ft but cortana is not working and this update is not cyan update.....
  • 100%, this clearly indicates that the HOT SMARTWATCH APP is going to be RELEASED IN THE STORE it is already out for android...and the watches have started shipping and also...there was a tweet from hot smartwatch about the company working with microsoft to make it compatible with windows phone......
  • My coworker has Samsung smartwatch......pretty cool... I liked it
  • Now perhaps Samsung can get their Gear watches to work with my Ativ S Neo now.  That would be cool.
  • Badplanet are you listening?
  • Yes I am. According to this article 3rd party devs like myself will not get access. This has been my experience with MS every time I have requested access to other features like SMS. After over a year’s effort with the Pebble this is very frustrating.
  • Sorry to hear it - maybe things will loosen up over time...still a fan/customer of your app!
  • Awesome. I hope we see some Pebble support soon.
  • I've been waiting for something like this on Windows Phone.
  • this article just made me though windows phone is the best place for smart accesories really, ios is too restrictive and closed to 3rd parties, and android being a mess is a nightmare to develop software capable of running properly on at least the majority of devices, on wp we dont have neither of those problems, now if microsoft could release a lumia/surface watch with vapormg & metal bracelet and big oled high dpi screen with alerts+fitness sensors...
  • How can i find out if fitbit is compatible with my lumia 520 and where i can buy it online? (Greece)
  • Go to the fitbit website under mobile apps to find out.
  • I don't get the whole smartwatch thing. My daily "smartwatch" will continue to be my Omega Speedmaster or my Rolex Submariner, and on those days where I don't feel like dressing up, my Hamilton Thin-o-Matic. They tell time, are reliable, waterproof, and look good with a suit, business wear, or casual. I think the Swiss figured out how to do smart watches a long time ago. 
  • Kudos, osallent. You have 3 beautiful timepieces. I'm not a horology buff, but have friends who are. For me, it's the tactile sensation of printed books. We should all have some elements of our lives that are unplugged: acoustical music, analog devices, meals cooked over fire instead of in the microwave. Simple pleasures. I will confess that I'm thinking about getting a FitBit Flex. I know I'm not getting enough exercise and perhaps tracking that will help me challenge myself. I've been holding off until a tracker could fully interface with my WP... Besides, girls love bracelets. ;-)  
  • My Omega Seamaster Automatic, circa 1967, still works perfectly telling me the exact time/date day in day out. I imagine if it were a Microsoft device it would need new 'updates' every few months to remove pesky Seconds Hands or add a flashing LED for the strap buckle. Then again they would probably make it super light by removing all that silly automatic clockwork - much better to put in a WiFi link to a Microsoft Time Server. Then again who wants a dial anyway, better to use a blank watchface so no distracting information - like the time. Hey ho.
  • Well I paired my pebble and it found it, but nothing after that sad face
  • These updates only provide the api's.  You still will need an app on your phone whether it is something from Pebble or Pebble Watch Pro.
  • Looks like it should be possible to react to new SMS messages! WP is just getting better and better. I want toasts for my Windows PC on phone notifications. Also I want my Fitbit to vibrate and my Hue to flash on the different events :D. Maybe easier to start with a IFTTT bridge application to hook into that ecosystem?
  • Can anyone guide me Whom to contact in Microsoft team to get access to those APIs ? Thanks in advance. 
  • No screenshot in the latest wp8.1 update. Plz di something Microsoft.