A watchOS update could finally add support for third-party Apple Watch faces soon.
Apple Watch fans have been calling for third-party face support since the device made its debut three years ago. A note discovered in the latest watchOS code suggests developers may soon get permission to build the custom faces we badly crave.
Apple Watch is the only major smartwatch that doesn’t support third-party faces; we can only choose between the handful of designs Apple has provided for us. We’ve been keeping our fingers crossed for third-party face support with every watchOS update, but it is yet to materialize.
Apple Watch could get third-party face support
That could be about to change. A log message discovered in the latest watchOS beta hints at support for third-party watch faces in a future update. “This is where the 3rd party face config bundle generation would happen,” it reads.
The wording clearly suggests this is a feature that’s planned for later — not a reference to existing faces that might be considered third-party faces, such as those with Hermès or Nike branding, or those featuring characters from Pixar franchises.
The note might indicate that we’ll finally get support for third-party faces in watchOS 5, which is expected to arrive this fall. We’ll find out when Apple provides us with a preview of the update during its WWDC keynote in June.
Third-party face hurdles
Apple will have a number of hurdles to face when adding third-party face support to watchOS — which is likely why we still don’t have support three years on. A strict approval process will be required to weed out poor designs that spoil Apple Watch’s image.
Apple will also want to ensure that users cannot install faces that infringe copyright by stealing protected designs. Those that mimic luxury watch faces from brands like Rolex and TAG Heuer are popular on other platforms, including Google’s Wear OS.