In an interview with Cnet, Apple’s vice president of interface design Alan Dye and vice president of product marketing Stan Ng discussed Apple Watch Series 7‘s design, display, and the changes those factors inspired like new keyboard and watch faces. They also talk about third-party watch faces.
The design of the latest Apple Watch Series 7 has subtle but significant changes. Available in two new sizes (41mm and 45mm) with larger and semi-curved OLED display edges make the screen appears to bend downwards to the watch housing which creates a wraparound effect. According to Ng, the way OLED refracts gives a “similar effect to looking into a watch crystal, a design idea that was intentional” and the redesigned crystal offers a larger display and gives more durability that opens doors to many new changes. Dye said:
“Once we started to play with this new crystal and the display, that’s where all those subtle design decisions were made to push those ticks out to the very edge of the display to highlight some of these effects.”
Third-party watch faces are not coming to Apple Watch Series 7 anytime soon
Dye explained that the larger display of the Apple Watch Series 7 was driven by the need for easier-to-read text, especially for accessibility like the new full-screen QWERTY keyboard and data-rich watch faces.
“We had the opportunity to allow users to increase the point size [for text] even larger than we’ve allowed for in the past. That was very much motivated by the new display. He added that it’ll be “far more useful and accessible to a lot of users who just need the larger point size.”
Having said that, Dye clarified that third-party watch faces store is not on Apple’s agenda. He explained that watch faces are a huge part of the Apple Watch experience and each watch face is carefully designed and optimized for the smartwatch.
“As critical as the hardware is at playing the role distinguishing Apple Watch as Apple Watch, we think the watch faces play a pretty big role there as well, which is why we’ve been so careful over the years, despite the fact that there’s a wide variety, to have a lot of consistent design elements.
“If you look closely, the watch hands are always drawn exactly the same way, despite the fact that they show up in different colors. We think we struck a really good balance. The watch faces themselves, they provide a canvas for third parties for sure, and a template that they can [use to] create multiple complications and turn a watch face into their watch face, and that becomes the interface in some ways for their application.”
In 2020 at the launch of Apple Watch Series 6 and accompanying new watch faces, we listed down reasons why Apple does not allow third-party developers to build new watch faces by ex-Apple software engineer, David Shayer. He said that Apple will not open watch faces to third-party developers over concerns of power efficiency, buggy code, design, and copyright issues.