'Reserve Strap' Suspends Shipments of All Orders Due to Apple Watch Accessory Port Policy Change

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It's been a while since Reserve Strap last updated its customers on the status of the device's shipping estimates, but a recent change to the Apple Watch's accessory port functionality in watchOS 2.0.1 has essentially left the band defunct and unable to ship to those who pre-ordered last summer.

In each of the band's design mock-ups, the device would have connected to the accessory port on the bottom side of the Apple Watch casing to provide up to an estimated 30 hours of extra battery life. But, as developer Lane Musgrave mentioned in a recent blog post, a lesser-known update in watchOS 2.0.1 has blocked off third-party band manufacturers from taking advantage of the accessory port to fuel the abilities of "smartbands."

reserve-strap-change

The three iterations of Reserve Strap

Beginning with watchOS 2.0.1 an unexpected change to the Apple External Accessory Protocol disabled the functionality of Reserve Strap. Until this change, Reserve Strap functioned perfectly–extending the battery life of Apple Watch by over 150% in many cases allowing users to keep their Watch charged for up to a week.

Specifically, this bug interferes with the communication between accessories and Apple Watch. For the time being, Apple has suspended use of this port until they unveil an official MFi program for Watch. In keeping with their wishes we will also be suspending shipment of all orders until Apple supports development of smartbands.

The developers note that any user who has yet to upgrade to 2.0.1, and seemingly doesn't plan on doing so in the future, can still take advantage of Reserve Strap. The company will ship a device to those customers "in the next few weeks." It's also encouraging users to send an email to the Apple Hardware Evangelism team, and submit feedback on Apple.com, to spread awareness about the lack of an official Apple Watch smartband MFi program.

In March, Reserve Strap also announced the "Reserve Strap LTE," which would allow users to bypass the Apple Watch's need of a Bluetooth-connected iPhone thanks to a micro-SIM card & low power WiFi hotspot built directly into the band. Since the LTE version of the Reserve Strap uses a hotspot to connect to the Apple Watch and wouldn't necessarily require connecting through the accessory port, it could possibly move forward as a full-fledged product, but it's in very early R&D stages at this point.

The company is hoping that an MFi program will launch soon, and looks to a recent patent filing by Apple as a potential indicator of such a move. The patent describes a series of strap designs that have embedded electronic devices -- including batteries, displays, and GPS sensors -- that all connect to the Apple Watch's diagnostics port, hinting that the company could be opening the floodgates to third-party smartband developers in the future.

Given that Apple just launched a new array of bands, and has yet to suggest smartbands could be coming to the first-generation Apple Watch, it's likely such a feature would debut on future versions of the device, such as the Apple Watch 2.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 6, watchOS 7
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
56 months ago

This is bad. Apple needs to fix this.

they don't need to fix anything. it's not broken. the "accessory port" was not documented for them to use.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
56 months ago

This is bad. Apple needs to fix this.

Why? A company just randomly decided to use a port that Apple never told anyone they could use. It just happens that two of the pins support power in, and this company designed around that.

There WILL be a MFI program for the watch, this company jumped the gun.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
56 months ago
I'm sympathetic to this company. I hope that they did not do all this work in vain. Those bands even look pretty cool.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
56 months ago
This is bad. Apple needs to fix this.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
56 months ago
I love the part where they call this a "bug". Way to deceive your customers, guys.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
56 months ago
Can we get an official Podcasts app for the Apple Watch first please? Anyone home Mr. Cook? This device has been out for a year already, ridiculous.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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