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Why no 3rd party watch faces?

Asked: Jun 07 2017 | 5:33 am EDT 4625 Views 7 Answers View Best Answer

Does anyone know the real reason why Apple refuses to open up the watch face creation to third party developers? One of my biggest complaints about the watch is that the watch faces have grown extremely boring, not that they were ever that stunning and interesting in the first place, especially compared to some competitors. Toy Story guys ... for real? I don't see what Apple is so worried about on this front, they could easily monitor the content by having to approve it before entering the store like they do with apps. After all, what's stopping me from taking a lewd picture of something and making it my watch face!


Best Answer

1,809
Jun 07 2017 | 10:04 am EDT doogald

Does anyone know the real reason why Apple refuses to open up the watch face creation to third party developers?
I don't know that Apple has ever shared an opinion or reason one way or the other on this. There are a number of possibilities that I can think of:


  • They are already busy enough curating the app store for apps, and don't want to add to the workload for watch faces at this time. (Curating both for illegal content or copyright infringement of a replica of an existing mechanical watch face, for example.)
  • They haven't had the time to develop a "FaceKit" that would give developers the tools that they need to develop a watch face, or have that set aside as a future project as they concentrate on what they feel are more important development issues for the watch and watchOS.
  • They are holding out doing licensing deals with other watch makers as they have for Hermes, to keep watch faces as a way to make some money for both companies.
  • They are worried about performance or battery issues for customized watch faces

More Answers

1,898
Jun 07 2017 | 2:48 pm EDT Mac Guy

I don't know that Apple has ever shared an opinion or reason one way or the other on this. There are a number of possibilities that I can think of:


  • They are holding out doing licensing deals with other watch makers as they have for Hermes, to keep watch faces as a way to make some money for both companies.
  • They are worried about performance or battery issues for customized watch faces
I believe it's a possibility that they will do licensing deals but am not sure how likely it will be. Licensing costs money and I don't know they'd think it worth the effort for 'regular' Watch faces.

Performance and battery issues would definitely be a consideration for the Watch. Apple almost always uses battery life as a selling point.

My money says Apple doesn't want just any yay-hoo submitting a Watch face that they will have to examine for trademark infringement in addition to performance or malicious code. Related to that is crappy looking design. I had a pebble for six months before the Watch shipped. Notifications were great, but the UI was horrible and even worse were 99.9999% of the watch faces that users and 'designers' made for it. and about 99.999% of that 99.9999% infringed on trademarks. But nobody seemed to care, maybe because it was Pebble. If Apple did that, there'd be a Take-a-Number machine outside of a certain Texas court. Apple has already had a problem with a clock face in OS X.

Apple cares a lot about design and none of those Pebble faces would fly. Cheap, tacky watch faces would cheapen the brand. At one time you'd see dozens of flashlight and f**t apps in the App Store. Now, not so much to not at all. I like that. So while I want to see new, elegant, and cool Watch faces, I'm glad they're not (or at least not YET) open to outsiders.
5,607
Jun 07 2017 | 3:13 pm EDT pkcable

I don't know that Apple has ever shared an opinion or reason one way or the other on this. There are a number of possibilities that I can think of:


  • They are already busy enough curating the app store for apps, and don't want to add to the workload for watch faces at this time. (Curating both for illegal content or copyright infringement of a replica of an existing mechanical watch face, for example.)
  • They haven't had the time to develop a "FaceKit" that would give developers the tools that they need to develop a watch face, or have that set aside as a future project as they concentrate on what they feel are more important development issues for the watch and watchOS.
  • They are holding out doing licensing deals with other watch makers as they have for Hermes, to keep watch faces as a way to make some money for both companies.
  • They are worried about performance or battery issues for customized watch faces
I wasn't going to convert this to a Q&A until I saw this answer, it's just TOO good! RIGHT ON! What do the cool kids say? +1! lol
301
Jun 08 2017 | 5:02 pm EDT JML5150

They haven't figured out a way to make a crap load of money off it yet....
719
Jun 08 2017 | 10:52 pm EDT jmr1015

I always thought it would be cool if they did this, and luxury watch makers could sell official digital versions of their watch faces for the Apple Watch.
1,898
Jun 09 2017 | 4:04 am EDT Mac Guy

They haven't figured out a way to make a crap load of money off it yet....
They're smarter than you give them credit for. Apple doesn't want a crapload of crappy watch faces.


I always thought it would be cool if they did this, and luxury watch makers could sell official digital versions of their watch faces for the Apple Watch.
It would be but not many luxury brands would/will license their watch faces as it will dilute the brand. It would be like Apple licensing it's OS or logo to another computer manufacturer.

Ultimately Apple wants the Watch to be an Apple Watch and not an Apple in Rolex or Patek clothing. I'd like Apple to design some faces for the Watch that look like analog Watch faces. Maybe that'll happen when Apple goes to always-on. Everybody hold your breath!