Apple Watch support for third-party watch faces may finally be coming soon

Yoni Heisler

Apple over the past few years has made huge improvements to the Apple Watch user experience. Not only has the device gotten considerably faster, Apple quickly retooled the UI as to make it much more intuitive and easier to use, a welcome improvement given the clunky UI that shipped with the original Apple Watch. Moreover, Apple has done a pretty solid job of incorporating features that users have been clamoring for. As a quick example, Apple in recent years has fleshed out the device’s fitness and health tracking capabilities while also adding an Apple Watch model with LTE connectivity.

As a result, Apple Watch sales have increased considerably over the past few years, according to Apple executives who still refuse to divulge any specific sales figures. All that aside, there remains one Apple Watch feature that users have been patiently waiting for since the very beginning — support for third-party watch faces. In fact, even before the Apple Watch launched, the notion that the Apple’s new wearable might feature support for third-party watch faces generated a tremendous amount of excitement among prospective buyers.


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With the three-year anniversary of the original Apple Watch launch creeping up on us, watchOS support for third-party watch faces has never materialized. And while Apple’s selection of default watch faces has gotten markedly better with time, the demand for third-party support has never quite gone away.

The good news is that Apple might be planning to shake things up sooner rather than later. According to data strings found in the latest watchOS 4.3.1 beta, there’s evidence that support for third-party watch faces might be on the way.

Originally spotted by 9to5Mac, developer Guilherme Rambo found an intriguing message within the beta’s NanoTimeKit framework. Specifically, a log message there reads: “This is where the 3rd party face config bundle generation would happen.”

While this is certainly no guarantee that Apple will answer our prayers, it’s certainly compelling evidence in and of itself. Presumably, if such a feature is in the works, we’ll hear all about it at WWDC this coming June.

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