Apple Watch Three Second face

Apple touts rich personalization through custom faces as one of the cornerstones of its wearable device, but not everyone agrees. Skimming through your comments paints quite a different picture as tinkerers and jailbreakers alike are clearly big on the idea of third-party faces for the Apple Watch.

As much as built-in ones are customizable with tint colors and complications, surely official Twitter or Facebook faces that showed current status, photos and what not would have been much appreciated, am I right?

As third-party faces development is a highly polarizing issue among the Apple faithful, we’re curious to hear your position on the matter.

So, should Apple deliver?

Cast your vote below.

On one hand, the official App Store Review Guidelines don’t explicitly prohibit third-party faces. On the other, Apple Watch User Guide indicates that additional first-party faces may arrive by way of software updates.

“Apple Watch includes a variety of watch faces, any of which you can customize to suit you,” reads the document. “Check frequently for software updates; the set of watch faces that follows might differ from what you see on your Apple Watch.”

While I’m inclined to think that third-party faces development is a matter of company policy, not technology, I’m not counting on actually seeing these before native Watch apps start hitting later this year.

As many times before, it’s about controlling platform experience.

Apple Watch Clock teaser 002

Having downloadable faces would fly in the face of that while potentially confusing normals outside the tech bubble with non-Apple-y user interfaces.

As reader Luke O’ Sullivan put it two days ago:

The Apple Watch is a new device and a lot of people won’t have seen one in person yet. Apple wants everyones first impressions to be under their control when they see it on someone else’s wrist.

They want everyone to see Apple-designed software running on the Watch rather than custom faces that it considers may be less impressive, or worse, not Apple-like.

He’s making a lot of sense, especially in light of the insane attention to detail that went into designing stock faces, which Wired so extensively detailed in its fascinating write-up.

When you think of it, who’s to say Apple doesn’t deserve some ownership over the device, at least for now?

Daring Fireball’s John Gruber opined that there is no way to set up a watch face that is ugly, or that doesn’t look very Apple-Watch-y.

“Even the Mickey face looks like an Apple Watch Mickey face, because of the San Francisco font on the hour markers and the complications,” he wrote. “That is by design, and I don’t see that changing.”

Speaking of which, the stock Mickey Mouse face no doubt came to be through a partnership with Disney.

Apple Watch flying 002

Another thing to consider: potential ramifications stemming from the App Store review team dealing with licensing issues if a developer created, say, a custom Rolex face without approval from that watchmaker.

Remember the Montaine Swiss Railway clock design mini-scandal?

Which brings me to my next point: Apple may change its stance and start allowing downloadable faces after the full Watch SDK ships later this year. And if I were a betting man, I’d wagger that we’d first see branded faces realized through cherry-picked partners such as, say, Ferrari, before Apple opened them up to its army of developers.

For what it’s worth, Google does screen and reject plagiarized faces for Android Wear smartwatches from the Play Store. And if comments on Apple blogs are anything to go by, the rewards in allowing downloadable faces would far outweigh any concerns.

At the end of the day, things could play out just like the early days of the App Store.

The App Store debuted in the summer of 2008, a year following June 2007 release of the original iPhone, but required the second-generation iPhone as a cunningly devised incentive for existing users to upgrade.

As John Gruber summarized, third-party faces “would be like third-party apps were for the iPhone — something that wasn’t there at the launch, but which came sooner rather than later.”

Are you concerned that the Watch limits you to ten Apple-designed faces? And if so, will Apple eventually relent and ease up on these issues, do you think?

After all, not that long ago people had thought Apple would have never permitted widgets into the iOS Notification Center. Heck, Apple for years did not allow apps that mirrored stock functionality like Calendar, Contacts, Reminders and so forth, but now the App Store is packed to the gills with them.

If you were standing in Apple’s shoes, what would you do?

  • Pokeh321

    This one seems like a no brainer in my opinion. Hopefully we see the watch evolve with more time and support.

    • Fanboy 

      Agreed although as somebody else commented to me, this is Apple’s baby right now which is probably why they’re being so closed lol.

      Im personally waiting for 3rd party bands though! Need me a stainless steel bracelet that costs less than the price of a new iPhone! lol

      • Eric Mason

        There are already quite a few 3rd party bands available on both eBay and Amazon.

  • Phil Randle

    I think Apple will eventually allow it, the capability just needs to be there. At the moment, Apple Watch apps are extensions of existing apps, so even before they can think of wanting to accept Watch Faces on the Apple Watch, they will need to modify the SDK so the Watch Faces can be installed directly into the watch (waiting for complications etc to load onto the watch face from the iPhone just to wait for the processing after tapping those complication, can’t be an option, watch faces need to be ready to launch when you need them too) – an updated SDK can resolve that.

    I also think Apple will move to allow frequently used Apple Watch apps to remain in memory to speed up processing, I can see a few changes coming at WWDC, hopefully it comes to fruition.

    • Completely agree. I really want an Apple Watch (honestly just for the ability to control music on my iPhone without having to pull out my iPhone) but with many people complaining of slowness and the lack of full blown apps running directly off of the watch and the lack of customisation of things such of watch faces I’m almost certainly going to hold off until the next Apple Watch comes out or at least until the next iPhone gets released…

  • Gabriel Anaya

    This is just a matter of time. The original iPhone didn’t have any real wall papers, heck the wall paper was only on the lock screen. We’ll just need to wait this out.

  • James G

    I want them to design more. Opening to devs might flood it with garbage.

    • mike

      smart thing to do would be making a separate app that you can download from the app store then download custom designs which will go directly to the watch once connected with the phone. So if there is garbage you don’t have to have it you just download the ones you want to your phone.

    • ieatcalcium

      I mean, you could just NOT download the garbage ones lol.

      • James G

        Its just annoying when there is so much garbage.

  • Jeremy

    I’m just not sure how Apple’s “most personal device” can remain closed to third party watch faces (unless maybe if Apple chooses to allow even more customization of their built-in watch faces, e.g., by setting background color/image, change font). I understand there are millions of permutations of watch faces and complications, but I just don’t see how 10 basic watch faces can allow the level of customization Apple needs to please everyone. Designing more than 10 faces would help (and I suppose this would more closely approximate the model used by watch companies already), but I just don’t know how Apple can get the market penetration they want when 1/10 (or even 1/100) of customers would have essentially the same watch.

  • johnsm

    the way you wrote the “no” option most people will ignore it

    • It doesn’t matter how it’s written the answer will always be the same. We need more customisation on our Apple devices. In the future I’d like to think devices would be more open like OS X devices. Sadly I don’t think this day will ever come so we’ll always need a jailbreak just to change the icons on our home screen or to block ads in Safari…

  • turco320

    are perfect which has, against more options more you play and less do

  • Steven Honey

    hopefully they add the ability to get 3party faces with the next update. Hopefully its not like the first iPhone where you couldn’t use one of your own photos as your background…you only had the option to use the stock background photos for your background.

  • Jake Platt

    Their current range of watch faces are quite good when you consider the customisation options, but its a no brainer that people shelling out this kind of money for their product should be allowed extra watch face options if they wish. If they don’t allow it, the jaibreaking community will.

  • Jonathan

    I hope Tim Cook sees this poll..

    • Bilal

      i dont think he has time for that 🙁

  • Maybe Apple will allow custom watch faces next year or so.

    • mike

      that could be there big selling point next year lol

  • They should allow it but I understand why they aren’t at the moment. Don’t want to get sued if someone uploads a template for say a rolex watch face.. even if it’s not sued.. they don’t want to get a take down request either.

  • Why not? Apple can simply support custom watch faces. They left this feature intentionally for Apple Watch 2. Apple should definitely allow custom watch faces.

  • Eikast

    Apple will allow it but first they have to allow apps to be installed directly on the Apple Watch. I think now they’re not allowing it because users will complain about slow “watchfaces” when they’re really just third party apps. I’m sure that when WWDC rolls around they’ll start to introduce native third party apps.

  • Bass Head

    definitely. I want a rolex theme

  • Elias

    Yes, but only if they have strict guidelines. I wouldn’t want the Watch app store to be floded with grotesque neon faces..

  • singhay559

    Of course. The idea of having any smart device is having the ability to customize it to your personal preference. I see iOS slowly leaning towards android in the long run but not as open. Letting users decide what setup they want without the need to jailbreak.

  • CanadianOwl

    How about allowing watch faces on your iPhone or iPad lock screen? Now THAT would be cool!

  • Eldaria

    Should Apple allow third party IOS apps?

  • M_thoroughbred

    I think they should allow for third party watch faces. A face for the watch it’s almost as the keyboard on your phone should be customizable in my opinion. And if Apple doesn’t allow it then they should make a section in the watch App Store Where they can add more faces instead of waiting for software updates to do so.

  • Count_Iblis

    It’s 3 years later and the control freaks at Apple still aren’t allowing 3rd party watch faces. Add insult into injury and have have done little themselves to add their own. There are like 2 watch faces that are usable, rest ugly and hooky