Time and Money: Why Apple Won't Allow Third-Party Apple Watch Faces

By Tom Pritchard on at

The Apple Watch has officially been released, so it makes sense that now is the time for Apple to make some changes to its App Store Review Guidelines. One of these changes is particularly noteworthy, because it means Apple can (and will) reject any third-party watch-faces.

Officially Apple is not allowing apps that only focus on telling the time, but since that is the sole purpose of a custom watch face it means that Apple is able to reject them with impunity.

The Apple Watch comes with a choice of ten different pre-installed watch faces, and to some extent most of them can be customised to match an individual user's preferences. Ten isn't a lot, especially given the fact that Android Wear users can download hundreds, if not thousands, of custom watch faces from the internet. For that reason, there is bound to be plenty of demand for more watch faces on the Apple Watch.

But Apple does appear to be considering creating more first-party watch faces, as this paragraph in the Apple Watch help guide suggests:

Apple Watch includes a variety of watch faces, any of which you can customise to suit you. Check frequently for software updates; the set of watch faces that follows might differ from what you see on your Apple Watch.

So future software updates could come bundled with extra watch faces for people to enjoy.

But why not let the third parties help out? Money could be the main reason. Even if Apple isn't planning on charging for new watch-faces in the future, it might not want other people to be profiting from them. Or maybe Apple is planning on releasing premium watch faces by itself, and is stamping out the competition before it can begin.

That's quite a disadvantage for Apple Watch owners, but I can't help but wonder if there's a loophole. What would happen if a genuinely useful Apple Watch app was released, and it happened to come with a custom watch face? A running app could conceivably have a custom face designed to show the time alongside various stats. Just a thought. [9to5Mac]