Apple needs to let developers design their own watch faces

Apple Watch owners will spend a majority of time looking at the watch face, which can be customised to display important information like the weather and upcoming events. But as fun as it is to customise watch faces and switch them up on the fly, it’s disappointing when you consider there are only 10 watch face styles to choose from, and only eight of those are customisable.

The obvious solution: Apple needs to let third-party developers build watch faces.

Right now, the Apple Watch’s limited faces are reminiscent of the original iPhone, where owners couldn’t even change their phone’s background — it was black, and only black. It’s surprising that you can’t choose photos to be the background of your Apple Watch, but honestly, Apple needs to go a step further than that.

Third-party watch faces could be a big opportunity for developers to exercise their creativity — and Apple can, in turn, showcase said creativity for advertising purposes, on billboards or TV commercials. Apple has previously advertised third-party apps on the iPhone and iPad to great effect.

And if you’ve ever owned a Swatch or a Pebble, you know watch faces can be extraordinarily creative.

Pebble watch facesMyPebbleFaces.comThe sheer variety of watch faces is a great reason to own a Pebble.

I understand Apple’s desire to have tight control over the hardware and software experiences. But right now, the closed-off approach to watch faces feels like the iPhone before the App Store: a missed opportunity.

These digital watch faces are more than just telling the time — like one’s iPhone wallpaper or home screen, the Apple Watch face is an expression of oneself. I actually change my watch face several times throughout the day: I keep the “simple” style during work hours, then switch it to the “motion” and “astronomy” styles at night. Problem is, I want more.

Hopefully one of Apple’s big announcements at next week’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is giving developers the ability to make Apple Watch faces. In the same way Apple is allowing third parties to build their own Apple Watch bands, the company must embrace true personalisation and set the home screen free.

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