watchOS 4.3.1 Beta Hints at Future Support for Third-Party Apple Watch Faces

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Apr 16, 2018.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple may be considering allowing third-party developers to create custom Apple Watch faces, if a line of code discovered in the latest watchOS beta is anything to go by.

    Historically, Apple has resisted allowing third-party developers to create and release custom watch faces for Apple Watch, instead electing to add to its stock options for watch faces in successive iterations of the device's operating system, such as the Siri and kaleidoscope watch faces introduced in watchOS 4.


    However, a log message in watchOS 4.3.1 beta, unearthed by 9to5Mac, suggests Apple may be considering the possibility in a future version of Apple Watch software. As part of its NanoTimeKit framework which provides developer access to watch face components, the beta includes references to a currently inactive developer tools server that will likely allow communication with Xcode on macOS.

    Within this portion of code is a log message that reads: "This is where the 3rd party face config bundle generation would happen."

    Image via 9to5Mac

    Whether or not Apple decides to implement the missing feature for watchOS 5 or in a later version is unknown, but the mere mention of third-party face configuration will likely be cause for hope for anyone longing for additional personalization beyond the existing color-adjustable stock options, custom "Photo" watch face, and accompanying third-party watch complications.

    On the other hand, any such hope could prove misplaced given Apple's traditional reluctance to open up the most outward-facing aspects of its operating systems to third parties (such as the lock and home screens in iOS, for example). Apple imposes strict limits on changes to major interface elements out of a concern that they guarantee a high level of usability, stability and security, and it's hard to imagine the company casting aside those principles.

    It's worth noting that Apple tends to reject third-party Apple Watch apps that closely duplicate existing functions, as per its developer guidelines, although whether watch faces would come under this provision remains unclear. At any rate, while Apple welcomes "creative ways of expressing time as an app interface", currently it does not allow apps that look like watch faces.

    Meanwhile, rival smartwatch operating systems like FitbitOS and Wear OS have allowed users to install third-party watch faces on their devices for some time, but the design and usability standard on offer is highly variable and Apple isn't likely to warm to the idea unless it can enforce a consistent means of quality control.

    Apple is expected to release the fifth version of watchOS and iOS 12 at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June.

    Article Link: watchOS 4.3.1 Beta Hints at Future Support for Third-Party Apple Watch Faces
  2. enrilo macrumors member

    Jan 7, 2014
  3. Nozuka macrumors 68020

    Jul 3, 2012
    The only thing i can currently think of, that would really improve my experience with the watch.
  4. pika2000 macrumors 601

    Jun 22, 2007
    And how successful they are? Yeah.
    I have the moto 360, and most 3rd party watch faces are crap. They are either a copycat of each other, or a poorly done copy of luxury watch faces. Worse, many are buggy too, telling you that they are just lazy devs trying to make some quick buck. In the end, the built-in face watches are more reliable and good enough (style wise).

    Besides, Apple already partnered with big names like Nike and Disney to have specific face watches. Imo that is the route that Apple would go, partnering with brands to have their custom face watches instead of opening it to the public.
  5. chucker23n1 macrumors 68010


    Dec 7, 2014
    Yes, watches tend to be.
    --- Post Merged, Apr 16, 2018 ---
    Maybe, and yet no matter which Apple-supplied watchface I use, I find myself thinking, "I wish I could do X with this". They all have their own quirky limitations, sort of by design, and more flexibility would be welcome.
  6. iZac, Apr 16, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018

    iZac macrumors 68000


    Apr 28, 2003
    Finally, maybe we can get some watch hands that don’t make it look like a travel alarm clock

    [​IMG] least it's a Braun :p
  7. cmChimera macrumors 68040


    Feb 12, 2010
    Even if they are strictly regulated, this is good step. Apple puts out some good watch faces, but not nearly often enough. Let third parties fill in the gaps.
  8. Relentless Power macrumors Penryn

    Relentless Power

    Jul 12, 2016
    Ultimately with the watch faces, I think with expansion would be the advantages if Apple had an Apple Watch face store offering a variety of watch faces. I think developers should have access for third-party watch faces, but either way, I think it’s been requested for quite some time now for Apple to have an expanded watch face selection, and what not a better way to introduce it for the developer conference in June 2018.
  9. honglong1976 macrumors 65816


    Jul 12, 2008
    Agreed! I had an android wear before and the built on watch faces were great! 3rd party ones, all sucked!

    More customisation of the existing ones would be enough. Totally agree with partnering with other brands. I would love a lightning mcqueen (my son would love it!) watch face like the toy story one.
  10. springsup, Apr 16, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018

    springsup macrumors 65816


    Feb 14, 2013
    Lol this is nothing; I write those kinds of hand-wavy possible future direction comments in my code all the time, too. It should have been a comment (and then it would have been stripped away at compile-time), but somebody mistakenly made it a log message.

    It's just a developer noting down where in the process this might happen, if they were ever directed to implement that. All it tells us is that the Watch is technically capable of supporting 3rd-party faces, which it obviously can as well as any first-party face.
  11. centauratlas macrumors 6502a


    Jan 29, 2003
    Allowing an additional complication or two would be enough, so this could be positive if it happens.
  12. e-coli, Apr 16, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018

    e-coli macrumors 68000


    Jul 27, 2002
    As an Apple Watch Hermès owner, the nice watch faces make a huge difference. Apple Watch is a good product, but the stock faces all look like a cheap toy. This would be welcome news.
  13. Morgenland macrumors 6502


    May 28, 2009
    Let's remember Apple's Classic operating system. There were an unbelievable number of system extension tools with which the appearance could be individually modified.
    When OSX drastically limited the possibilities, I was outraged. I felt patronized. Today I see it as a brave and great step: I can quickly find myself on any Apple computer, no questioning because something has been changed. And Apple has worked out the graphically best compromise, probably there is a large consensus and thus peace.
    This time, I wish Apple the courage to keep things limited to appropriate functionality.
    The quality of the look of an AppleWatch lives 100% from the graphical user interface, and I think Apple has done everything right so far.
    And "freedom fighters" for unlimited emoji freedom and free design have always existed, giving in to them can be disadvantageous.
  14. Bacillus Suspended


    Jun 25, 2009
    Thx for sharing your transformation into a GUI conformist. It inspires me to never become so.
  15. Nozuka macrumors 68020

    Jul 3, 2012
    but when are you ever going to use someone elses apple watch?
    and a different watch face doesn't change how you operate the watch.
  16. Shalev macrumors member


    Jul 18, 2015
  17. dilbert99 macrumors 68000

    Jul 23, 2012
    It's about time, one of the many downsides to the walled garden...
    --- Post Merged, Apr 16, 2018 ---
    Any OS's goals is to keep the standard dialogs the same.
    But venture in to different applications e.g. video editor and you won't feel at home apart from a few keystrokes
  18. michelb76 macrumors newbie

    Mar 8, 2016
    When the Watch came out I was upset that it didn't have this feature. Now that I have a Series 3 since a few months, I find that I don't have a need for this functionality. I use the Watch for well, timekeeping and sports. More customization can be a good feature, but can some of you give some examples of what you would do or what you would third-party developers to do with it that isn't possible now? I haven't seen any other smartwatch face that I would want to emulate, and I don't miss anything right now.
  19. nnoble macrumors 6502

    Jun 19, 2011
    I've got a Skagen wristwatch. Black enclosure, black strap, gorgeous midnight blue face with silver numerals. It's so attractive I invariably get comments of admiration for this slim, beautiful timepiece. In more than a decade, I never once considered asking Skagen for a replacement, never once did I get bored with checking the time and feeling satisfied.
  20. HappyDamnSam macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2018
    They should open up everything to third-party. Nothing on the apple watch is even worth using and giving developers more options would potentially make things better
  21. BornAgainMac macrumors 603


    Feb 4, 2004
    Florida Resident
    Apps are really weak. Probably Apple realized that and letting the floodgates open for this one.
  22. Piggie macrumors G3


    Feb 23, 2010
    As always it brings a smile to my face to read posts by HARD Apple fans, saying they don't want choice and feel Apple should not give others choice either.
    Apple knows best and you should be happy with that.

    I have to wonder if they hold this viewpoint about other aspects of their life?
    when you go food shopping you have to accept only the food they tell you to, or wear the cloths you are told to.

    Funny isn't it.
  23. -Ryan- macrumors 68000

    Jan 28, 2009
    I've been using the same face for almost 3 years now as there is only really one I like the look of. I can't see how opening faces to third parties could be anything other than positive. Even if there's garbage available, much like the App Store there should also be good options.
  24. tresmith macrumors 6502

    Jul 25, 2014
    This is really great news. But I don't need a ton of watch faces. The same way I don't need a ton of apps. Just only the real good and useful ones.

    I hope that once they open this door they apply a good filter.

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