WatchKit: The Text Input and Dictation API is Available!

I spoke at Wearables TechCon about WatchKit last week, and as part of my class, I directed the attendees to the new Apple Watch App Store Apps page to show what is currently possible. After class, one of the attendees asked me about the NPR app, which allows you to “search for specific shows using dictation”. I haven’t heard that the Apple Watch had a dictation API and haven’t looked at the new WatchKit beta, so I just assumed NPR had a private API access.

However, I’ve looked into it some more, and voila, the text input API is in fact available for everyone to use. Of course it is not fully useable yet in the current simulator, but there is an API for it. I created a simple Interface Controller with a button that will bring up the text input controller using this code:

WatchKit Text Input Code

The result is this:

Note that when I click on the Emoji or Microphone button, I get an message that this is not supported in the simulator:

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 5.28.37 AM

Also note that using options is not necessary (it’s an optional value). As per Apple’s WatchKit Development Tips:

“If you are using the text input controller to enable dictation, send people directly to dictation without an intermediary sheet by passing no suggestions and setting the text input mode to plain.”

So sadly we can’t really test the dictation yet. But the options do work, so that’s cool. Either way, having an input API for the Apple Watch is pretty huge and opens up a whole set of interactivity with the Watch!

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