Hands on with the hot new Apple Watch faces in watchOS 5

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watchOS 5 Face
watchOS 5's animated faces bring new life to the Apple Watch
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

If you watched last week’s Apple Watch Series 4 unveiling and are dying for those new animated watch faces — but don’t want to buy a new watch — you’ll be happy to know that watchOS 5 brings the best of them to Apple Watch Series 1 and up.

They’re not quite as nice as what you’ll get with the new larger Series 4 watches coming Friday, but they’re still pretty great. Here’s a hands-on look at the new Apple Watch faces.

watchOS 5 brings new Apple Watch faces

With watchOS 5 finally available to download, anyone can grab the new animated faces.

new apple watch faces in watchOS 5 animated faces
All of watchOS 5’s new faces look fantastic.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Four new Apple Watch faces are available: Breathe, Fire and Water, Liquid Metal and Vapor. All but Liquid Metal were previewed alongside the Series 4 Apple Watch.

The Fire and Water face featured heavily in Apple’s Series 4 showcase and is being used across all of the marketing images. The big difference here, though, is that — due to the smaller screen size of previous-generation watches — all the new faces are masked within a circle.

On the larger Apple Watch Series 4, the background animations span the screen, going edge-to-edge. Apple probably just didn’t want to highlight the bezels on the older watches.

New animated Apple Watch faces

Each new Apple Watch face brings two different animations: one for when you raise your wrist and one for when you tap on the screen or press the Digital Crown to wake the wearable.

You can vary up the animations so they alternate each time you wake the display. For instance, you can switch between seeing Fire and Water, three different colors of Vapor (including pink/orange, black/white and blue/green), and three different colors of Liquid Metal (one to match each finish of the Apple Watch).

The Breathe watch face packs three different styles: Focus, Calm and Classic. Each of these plays a soothing, slow animation. And if you click on it, you’ll go straight to the Breathe app. Even if you don’t use the Breathe app (which I recommend, because it can help you relax and focus on your breathing), the Breath Apple Watch faces still look super-nice.

All of the new faces support up to three different complications. If you were hoping for the Infograph Apple Watch face that supports up to eight complications, too bad. I’m afraid that’s exclusive to the Series 4.

watchOS 5 is available as of today. So if you want to try these out for yourself, go ahead and get updating.

Do you like the new Apple Watch faces?

watchOS 5 Breath face
The calming and minimalist Breathe app is a personal favorite.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

What do you think of the new Apple Watch faces? Will you be using them? Or are they just a gimmick? Let us know in the comments below.

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