iOS 18 brings new API to provide AirPods-like setup experience with third-party accessories


iOS 18 brought many 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 that Apple did not advertise, but which is set to arrive with its upcoming update, is the ability to give developers the option to provide an AirPods-like setup experience with third-party accessories. Apple will bring a new API that developers can use 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, iPhones can connect to accessories with images or names provided by apps via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

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

Currently, Apple products like AirPods and AirTag can be connected to an iPhone or iPad through a simple pop-up window that appears when you bring it near the device. This eliminates the multiple steps that were previously required, such as manually going into the device’s settings, toggling Bluetooth, selecting the accessory, and entering a PIN. Instead, the Apple accessory can be connected with a single tap.

The iPhone maker claims that apps integrated with AccessorySetupKit can access more accessory controls, such as unpairing and renaming. When a user brings an accessory near the iPhone, it is speculated that it will automatically bring up a pop-up window for quick pairing.

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, which means users who have registered as beta developers can download and use it on their iPhones. The API is also available in iPadOS 18 Developer Beta 1.

iOS 18 compatibility

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

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