Garmin recently hosted its annual Connect IQ Developer Summit, providing news, workshops and practical sessions to coders from around the globe. Among the updates for developers using location: Connect IQ will offer HERE location data.
Connect IQ is the native application development platform built for Garmin wearables and products. Powered by Monkey C, apps developed on Connect IQ have a host of native and third-party APIs available to help developers create intelligent, feature-rich applications.
Connect IQ Alpha Monkey Nicolas Kral has been a key member of the Garmin team since 2013. He was part of the skunkworks group that created Connect IQ, and we asked him to speak with us about the Connect IQ development environment, so we could understand more about what it offers to developers.
“If you remember, the 2013 era of smartwatches had a lot of Kickstarter ideas,” Mr. Kral said. “There were a lot of ideas about what people thought watches were going to be. But not a lot of people considered the platform. You can’t just go ‘oh, just do what the phone does, but make it smaller.’
“A watch is a fundamentally different thing, and there are a lot of fun challenges with wearables. You need it to last a long time, but it has a tiny battery. You want it to be powerful without forcing it to be clunky or ugly. The inputs are very small. Most of all: it’s not a smartphone. So, what do people want to do on a watch? What kinds of apps really make sense?”
This lead to a fundamental decision. Recognizing that watches were entirely different as a platform, and that everything about them would be new and different both to the developer and the user communities, the team would start from scratch.
This lead to the development of Monkey C, and the Connect IQ platform, which enables developers to create applications that accommodate the special features that Mr. Kral mentions above. In addition to optimizing for the devices, Connect IQ also opened itself up to third-party APIs – one of the newest will come from HERE.
“We had to build up things like our https APIs and our web communication APIs through our mobile device, and being able to download content more efficiently,” Mr. Kral continued, “Meanwhile, HERE has been developing their own set of APIs, and I think what Richard Süselbeck has done is to prove that these two things can really work together.”
Connect IQ enabled devices have access to location, and as of the developer’s summit, they have access to rich cartography and contextualized location intelligence.
As an example, a Connect IQ device knows that you’re at the corner of Parliament Street and Richmond Terrace. However, it needs a little help if you want to search and get directions to a coffee shop, or a clothing store, or a worthy tourist attraction.
That help is coming in the form of HERE Places and Routing APIs. The former provides points of interest based on query (distance, category, keyword), and the latter enables routing between sets of waypoints by distance or time, and comes loaded with additional data like road conditions, special restrictions, and other information that impacts travel on foot, on bike, or in car.
Within the Connect IQ store, there are currently more than 4,000 applications. Among them, more than 300 applications use GPS or location services. Garmin has been making location-aware products since the beginning, but now, they’ll have the power of HERE contextual data to add to their toy box.
With people like Nicolas at the helm, this platform will continue to evolve. Be sure to check out next year’s ConnectIQ Developer Summit for more advances for Garmin wearers and developers.
Special thanks to Nicolas Kral for taking the time to speak with us.