Why Apple won’t allow 3rd party watch faces

Rogifan

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Original poster
Nov 14, 2011
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Marco Arment, Jason Snell and others have been complaining recently about Apple Watch faces saying they’re not good enough and Apple should allow 3rd party faces. I think the reason they don’t is the same reason they don’t allow UI customization (outside of accessability features) or themes on iOS. I’d also guess they don’t want to have to police a watch face store and get sued by real watch makers claiming copyright or trademark infringement. Even if one argues for a heavily curated store it’s still Apple doing the curating and then you’d just have disgruntled developers no one has ever heard of running to social media to complain about their watch face being rejected and the outrage mob livid with Apple and its walled garden. Arguing that Apple needs better faces is fine but I don’t see 3rd party faces happening anytime soon.
 
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akash.nu

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May 26, 2016
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I think the issue is 2 fold.

1. Custom Watch faces is too insignificant / small market for apple to invest time and money into making a full fledged AppStore on it own.

2. Big budget development community will not be interested because of number 1 and therefore not good enough for apple either if a thriving dev community is not present for a platform.
 
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Rogifan

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Original poster
Nov 14, 2011
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I think the issue is 2 fold.

1. Custom Watch faces is too insignificant / small market for apple to invest time and money into making a full fledged AppStore on it own.

2. Big budget development community will not be interested because of number 1 and therefore not good enough for apple either if a thriving dec community is not present for a platform.
Agreed. Honestly I don’t really care about Watch faces. I pretty much keep my watch face on modular all the time.
 
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TheBearman

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May 23, 2008
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My thought, like yours, was the legal concerns. Apple is a very big target and would be "responsible" for allowing a 3rd party who may tread on someone's copyright. Having said that, there has been an iPhone app for some time called Chronometer with over 16 faces and hasn't had a problem. I've had it on my iPhone longer than there's been a Watch.
 
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Relentless Power

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Jul 12, 2016
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I used to be one of those that regularly was confused as to why Apple would not allow third-party developers to have access to watch Kit when developing watch faces. But now that the Apple Watch has had time to mature, I actually am very pleased with the watch faces that they do offer and the amount of customization the user can change. For the time being, I don’t even think much about third-party watch faces anymore as much as I did with the first GEN watch.
 
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Lennyvalentin

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Apr 25, 2011
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If I was Apple, and as obsessive-compulsive and control freakish about the design of their products as they are, what I would do is have a watchface store, but one which is open only to other watchmakers. That way they wouldn't get sued because some Joe Schmoe submitted a ripoff of some company's design. (Although a lot of watchfaces are very generic, and as long as you don't include logos probably wouldn't be particularly vulnerable to copyright infringement lawsuits. Exception to prove the rule: Swiss federal railway's lawsuit against Apple for the iOS 6 watchface...)

Of course, Apple is already in bed with Hermés, so I don't think they want to do this. It would dilute the exclusiveness of their mutual deal.

Still, Apple could loosen up quite a bit on the restrictions regarding customization of the existing watchfaces IMO. At some point, when the watch has matured a bit more, they will have to do this anyway, we just gotta wait a bit (several years!) longer... :p
 
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akash.nu

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May 26, 2016
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If I was Apple, and as obsessive-compulsive and control freakish about the design of their products as they are, what I would do is have a watchface store, but one which is open only to other watchmakers. That way they wouldn't get sued because some Joe Schmoe submitted a ripoff of some company's design. (Although a lot of watchfaces are very generic, and as long as you don't include logos probably wouldn't be particularly vulnerable to copyright infringement lawsuits. Exception to prove the rule: Swiss federal railway's lawsuit against Apple for the iOS 6 watchface...)

Of course, Apple is already in bed with Hermés, so I don't think they want to do this. It would dilute the exclusiveness of their mutual deal.

Still, Apple could loosen up quite a bit on the restrictions regarding customization of the existing watchfaces IMO. At some point, when the watch has matured a bit more, they will have to do this anyway, we just gotta wait a bit (several years!) longer... :p
And what’s the business value for apple I’m doing that? Remember creating and running a curated AppStore is not as easy as it looks.
 

Lennyvalentin

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Apr 25, 2011
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And what’s the business value for apple I’m doing that?
What's the business value of doing anything? *rolleyes*

Personalization, thus making their product appeal (more) to a wider spectrum of customers. Plus revenue from sales. Kinda self-evident, yeah?
 
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Rogifan

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Nov 14, 2011
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The more I read Marco Arment’s twitter the more I think he needs to stick with mechanical watches. He prefers analog to digital which is fine but no way do I agree it’s easier to read the time on an analog face.
 
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OllyW

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Oct 11, 2005
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The more I read Marco Arment’s twitter the more I think he needs to stick with mechanical watches. He prefers analog to digital which is fine but no way do I agree it’s easier to read the time on an analog face.
It is easier if you are used to reading analogue watches, especially when just glancing at the watch.

If you are not used to wearing analogue watches I would imagine the opposite to be true.
 
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profmatt

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Mar 7, 2015
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I read somewhere that if you see someone look at their (regular, analogue) watch and then immediately ask them what time it is, they’ll have to look again.

Apparently with an analogue watch you tend to focus on where in the day you are, rather than the specific time.
 

OllyW

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I read somewhere that if you see someone look at their (regular, analogue) watch and then immediately ask them what time it is, they’ll have to look again.

Apparently with an analogue watch you tend to focus on where in the day you are, rather than the specific time.
Just looked at mine, it was 2 o'clock. :D
 
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tromboneaholic

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Jun 9, 2004
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Apple doesn't allow third-party home screens or lockscreens on any iOS device.

The watch face would seem to be a combination of both types of screens in a way.
 

Ntombi

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Jul 1, 2008
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Bostonian exiled in SoCal
The more I read Marco Arment’s twitter the more I think he needs to stick with mechanical watches. He prefers analog to digital which is fine but no way do I agree it’s easier to read the time on an analog face.
I recently realized that I automatically translate digital time to analogue time in my head. It might be that he is of my generation or older, and does the same without realizing it.

I learned to tell time in analogue, and wasn’t allowed digital timepieces until I was much older (also, I’m 44, so there weren’t cable boxes/VCRs/microwaves/cell phones/etc with digital readouts all over the house in my childhood), so my brain thinks of a clock face as the “real time,” I guess.
 

Rogifan

macrumors Core
Original poster
Nov 14, 2011
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I read somewhere that if you see someone look at their (regular, analogue) watch and then immediately ask them what time it is, they’ll have to look again.

Apparently with an analogue watch you tend to focus on where in the day you are, rather than the specific time.
I’m sure that’s why some prefer it to digital.
[doublepost=1539178953][/doublepost]
It is easier if you are used to reading analogue watches, especially when just glancing at the watch.

If you are not used to wearing analogue watches I would imagine the opposite to be true.
I did wear a watch for many years but then the battery died and I was too lazy to get it replaced. Once I stopped wearing it and had a clock in my pocket with my phone I probably went a good 5 years or more wearing nothing on my wrist. I’d be curious to know how many Apple Watch owners were regular watch wearers vs people wearing nothing on their wrist.
 

bruinsrme

macrumors 604
Oct 26, 2008
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I think 3rd party faces will never be allowed.
From the onset Apple touted health aspects of the watch.

I am sure the current generation of watches are years in the making. The fact there is FDA intervention with the series 4 notes the intention of this series and future series.

If Apple opted to allow third party faces with series 0, imagine the outrage if they later revoked that function.

If Apple is truly moving into the realm of the watch being a medical device, the design, functionality and interface of the medical related screens would more than likely be restricted to remain compliant.
This would also includes faces.
 

OllyW

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Oct 11, 2005
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I did wear a watch for many years but then the battery died and I was too lazy to get it replaced. Once I stopped wearing it and had a clock in my pocket with my phone I probably went a good 5 years or more wearing nothing on my wrist. I’d be curious to know how many Apple Watch owners were regular watch wearers vs people wearing nothing on their wrist.
I've been wearing watches since the end of the sixties. :)
 

an-other

macrumors 6502
Aug 12, 2011
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Others make great points about IP. I'd also think Apple doesn't want to be locked into a form factor etc. They update the watch, they don't want to put themselves through the aggro of "my watch face looks like a bridge in Apple Maps."

I suppose if there were a greater outcry they'd be more motivated to do it, too. I don't detect a passion for users demanding this. Perhaps I'm just insulated.
 

akash.nu

macrumors G3
May 26, 2016
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What's the business value of doing anything? *rolleyes*

Personalization, thus making their product appeal (more) to a wider spectrum of customers. Plus revenue from sales. Kinda self-evident, yeah?
Revenue and sales is the first goal for any business, then everything else and watch market in itself is really small crammed with only a handful of well known brands and hundreds of other brands nobody cares about. That’s not a sustainable AppStore business model at all.
 

Lennyvalentin

macrumors 65816
Apr 25, 2011
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Revenue and sales is the first goal for any business, then everything else and watch market in itself is really small crammed with only a handful of well known brands and hundreds of other brands nobody cares about. That’s not a sustainable AppStore business model at all.
Apple is running Apple Music not precisely to make money, but to add value to their ecosystem (and undoubtedly also to undermine their competitors.) It was the same way with the app store, in the years before it turned into a booming business.

Nobody's saying watch faces would make Apple billions of dollars. It would be to add value for those who have bought a watch, plus giving hesitant maybe-buyers extra incentive to splurge. Watch face store faces could be more free-form and expressive than Apple's typically rigid design process would otherwise allow.
 
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