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Apple execs explain why watchOS 10 still lacks third-party faces

Published Jun 19th, 2023 8:13AM EDT
Apple's Kevin Lynch during WWDC 2023 talking about watchOS 10
Image: Apple Inc.

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watchOS 10, the upcoming Apple Watch operating system, was previewed early this June during WWDC 2023. While this update brings a revamped Home Screen, new interactions for the Apple Watch, improved workouts, and two watch faces, one thing is still missing for the Apple Watch system: the ability to add third-party watch faces.

Apple VPs Kevin Lynch and Deidre Caldbeck, in an interview with the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger (via 9to5Mac), were questioned about the possibility of third-party watch faces on the Apple Watch. Still, Lynch said it’s important for Apple to make everything work reliably and consistently. At the same time, Caldbeck added that users “don’t have to worry about the watch face still working when there’s a major watchOS update.”

To enforce this thesis that third-party watch faces could break the Apple Watch experience, the executives talk about the new watchOS 10 interactions. For example, when pressing the Side Button, the Watch now opens the Control Center, and swiping up from below the screen reveals smart stacks with several new widgets.

Here’s a part of Tages-Anzeiger‘s story: (…) “The repurposing of the button with watchOS 10 is based on a lot of this feedback,” explains Caldbeck. But the new mini widgets at the bottom of each watch face are also due to this. People wanted more information easily and quickly. This is exactly what this innovation offers. “We already had Glances and other variants that do something similar. But now it’s really, really easy and intuitive. We’re extremely optimistic about that.”

Lynch explains that Glances, an original idea from the first watchOS, can finally shine as the screen of the Apple Watch gets bigger. “Because the screen was so small, we wanted a way to add features that you only need occasionally without taking up valuable screen real estate,” explains Lynch. “So we came up with the idea that you can press harder to access additional functions. That solved our problem. But it created a new one: you didn’t see where to call more functions with it, and you had to know exactly what you were doing. That’s why we looked for alternatives. And now that the screens are significantly larger, we have a lot more ways to display information and additional features.”

With that, Apple makes sure everything works reliably once the company decides it needs to revamp the buttons and the interactiveness. Another point they make is the fact that Apple already gives users a lot of flexibility with complications from third-party apps.

The full interview is available in German here.

José Adorno Tech News Reporter

José is a Tech News Reporter at BGR. He has previously covered Apple and iPhone news for 9to5Mac, and was a producer and web editor for Latin America broadcaster TV Globo. He is based out of Brazil.