iOS 18 Brings New API to Offer AirPods-Like Setup Experience With Third-Party Accessories

iOS 18 brought several new features to the iPhone but only a few of them were showcased during the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2024 on June 10. One feature which Apple did not advertise but is set to come with its upcoming update is the ability to offer developers an option to provide an AirPods-like setup experience with third-party accessories. Apple will bring a new API that developers can make use of to ensure a more seamless setup process.

New setup experience for third-party accessories

According to documentation on Apple’s developer website, iOS 18 will introduce a new API called AccessorySetupKit. Using this API, the iPhone can connect to accessories with images or names provided by the app over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

Apple says this new API allows “seamless, privacy-preserving user consent and control for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Local Network permissions.”

At present, Apple products such as AirPods and AirTag can be paired to the iPhone or the iPad via a simple pop-up window that shows up when it is brought near the device. This eliminates multiple steps previously required, such as manually going to the device’s settings, toggling Bluetooth, selecting the accessory and entering the PIN. Instead, the Apple accessory can be paired with a single tap.

Apps integrated with the AccessorySetupKit can access more accessory controls, such as pairing removal and renaming, the iPhone maker claims. When a user brings the accessory near the iPhone, it is speculated to bring up a pop-up window for quick pairing automatically.

According to Apple, the AccessorySetupKit API is currently available in beta. The company released the iOS 18 Developer 1 Beta after its WWDC 2024 keynote, meaning users who have registered as beta developers can download and use it on their iPhone. The API is also available in iPadOS 18 Developer Beta 1.

iOS 18 compatibility

iOS 18 compatible devices include iPhone XR and newer models, up to the latest iPhone 15 Pro Max. This means all of the iPhone models which run iOS 17 will get the update. However, not all features may be available on older models.

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