Apple Watch faces are an important aspect of the smartwatch experience and to have a variety of would improve that drastically. However, Apple does not allow third-party developers to build different watch faces. An ex-Apple software engineer, David Shayer gives us four compelling reasons for the company’s decision to keep the development of Apple Watch faces in its hands.
Recently, the company has introduced new watch faces in the latest watchOS 7 update. The new Chronograph, Memoji, GMT, Artist, Stripes, Count up, and Typograph faces are completely customizable with different complications and color options. Now users can also share their favorite or personalized smartwatch faces with family and friends.
Reason for Not Supporting Third-Party Apple Watch Faces
Based on his knowledge of the complicated watchOS code’s development and testing phases as an ex-software engineer at Apple, Shayer gave four reasons for Apple’s decision to not allow third-party smartwatch faces.
1. Battery – Power Efficiency
Since the company introduced always on display in the Apple Watch Series 5, to ensure longer battery life is the respective team’s biggest goal. The knowledge of watch faces’ display graphics and GPU works is the company’s “proprietary” and are not shared with third-party developers. Therefore, only Apple’s watch software engineers know the graphics techniques which will be more power-efficient.
“Their animation techniques are the most energy-efficient possible. They have access to private graphics APIs that aren’t available to third-party developers. And they have internal testing and measurement tools that the company doesn’t provide to third-party developers.”
2. Code – Bugs Unacceptable
Watch Faces are on 24 hours. Whenever users glance at their Apple Watch, the display must be completely bug-proof and function flawlessly without issues like crashed or frozen faces. Therefore, the code which makes that possible is extensive and expensive which other developers might not be able to afford.
“The Apple Watch team does a tremendous amount of testing on watch code. Those engineers run automated tests, manual tests, and recruit thousands of Apple employees to use beta copies of watchOS and report any problems.”
3. Reputation – Untainted Market Image
As the company’s attention to detail is a well know fact, therefore, it ensures that the Apple Watch faces must be “beautiful, contemporary, and polished” like every Apple product. By not supporting third-party watch faces, the company is making sure that “gaudy, grating, or downright dissonant faces” are not developed to affect the Apple Watch aesthetically pleasing faces.
“Apple wants to be in the business of deciding which watch faces are stylish enough to appear on the watch. Apple thinks its own designers do a fine job of creating a wide range of highly customizable faces, and it adds more faces with each watchOS update.”
4. Copyright – A Legal Nightmare
All the available watch faces are copyrighted, after a long legal process of acquiring digital licenses like the Hermes face and Vintage faces. So, if the company allowed developers from all around the world, that might churn up a legal nightmare for Apple because negotiating terms of licenses with copyright owners from different parts of the globe would be ” a legal nightmare”.
In addition, the company is viable to get sued for copyright infringements if dishonest third-party developers stole or took inspiration from other artists without giving them credit. Apple has already paid $21 million to Swiss Federal Railway service for adapting its Mondaine watch face.
For these main reasons, Apple is unlikely to release support for third-party developers watch faces anytime soon. The company has given users a wide variety of customization options like colors, shapes, and compilations to design a face that represents them or their mood.