Under the Radar

145: Custom Apple Watch Faces


00:00:00   Welcome to Under the Radar,

00:00:01   a show about independent iOS app development.

00:00:04   I'm Marco Arment.

00:00:05   - And I'm David Smith.

00:00:06   Under the Radar is never longer than 30 minutes,

00:00:08   so let's get started.

00:00:09   - I wish we had custom Apple Watch faces.

00:00:13   I've made a few blog posts

00:00:15   and a whole lot of tweets to this effect recently,

00:00:17   and it's part of a larger conversation that's been going on.

00:00:20   You know, when the Series 4 came out,

00:00:23   they changed a lot of the complications.

00:00:25   The Series 4 has rounded screen corners,

00:00:28   and so not only did they introduce

00:00:30   this new Infograph face style

00:00:32   that had these like rounded complications

00:00:34   in the corner of the analog one,

00:00:36   so they introduced this new style,

00:00:37   and they also went back and updated the old faces

00:00:41   to curve their old complications around the dial now too

00:00:46   so they don't accidentally put letters of text

00:00:48   in the corners where they're masked out,

00:00:49   because if they would've kept them straight,

00:00:51   this is actually a little detail

00:00:53   that I think is worth pointing out here,

00:00:54   many of us, myself included,

00:00:56   have criticized the way the old watch faces

00:00:58   like the utility face now have curved text

00:01:01   around the complications.

00:01:03   If they didn't curve the text,

00:01:05   they would've had to reduce the width slightly

00:01:08   of how much text could fit,

00:01:10   because the corners are now masked out

00:01:11   with those little rounded corners.

00:01:13   Faced with the decision of lose a couple of characters

00:01:16   worth of text or round the text and fit the same amount,

00:01:20   Apple chose to fit the same amount by rounding it.

00:01:22   I don't think I would've made that same choice,

00:01:25   but there was a reason why they had to change something.

00:01:29   So they introduced these new complications,

00:01:30   and it started a lot of discussion about,

00:01:33   well, these are kind of hard to read,

00:01:35   or they're kind of ugly in certain contexts.

00:01:37   This has featured in many of the earlier reviews,

00:01:39   John Gruber, Jason Snell, Zach Hall, 9to5.

00:01:43   There were a whole bunch of early reviews

00:01:45   of the Apple Watch Series 4 that pointed out,

00:01:48   you know, the watch faces and the complications

00:01:51   in this update are kind of weak or have problems

00:01:54   or are hard to read or whatever else.

00:01:56   And I wrote this big article about why the Infograph face

00:02:00   is so hard to read, especially in regards

00:02:01   to reading the time on it, which I know it's maybe

00:02:05   a little bit old school to think you should be able

00:02:07   to easily read the time on a watch.

00:02:09   - You're such a radical, wanting to read the time

00:02:11   on your wristwatch.

00:02:12   - Yeah, I don't think that's that unreasonable of a request.

00:02:16   And so, and this was kind of my critique and criticism

00:02:22   of the Infograph watch face and kind of Apple's analog

00:02:25   watch face design in general and my kind of call to arms

00:02:29   to encourage them to open this up to third party developers

00:02:34   to let us make our own watch faces as our own apps.

00:02:38   Like, whatever form that takes, we can get to that

00:02:40   in a little bit, but Apple, you know, opened this door up.

00:02:42   This has been closed for too long now.

00:02:44   The watch is like, what, three, four years old now?

00:02:46   Like, you're not doing a good enough job

00:02:47   making watch faces yourself, and I think it's holding

00:02:50   the platform back.

00:02:52   Apple Watch is such a personal device to have everyone

00:02:57   in the world wearing these Apple Watches and using

00:03:01   the same two or three good faces is just,

00:03:04   it ranges from a waste to creepy.

00:03:08   So it's bad enough, there was a great segment

00:03:11   on Hello Internet this week where Brady Haran

00:03:13   discussed why he doesn't really like the Apple Watch,

00:03:16   and he doesn't wear one, he uses mechanicals,

00:03:19   and he was saying, like, it's kind of,

00:03:21   it's almost like black mirror-ish, kind of creepy,

00:03:23   that, like, everyone is starting to wear

00:03:26   the exact same watch, and it's like,

00:03:30   there really has not been a point in history

00:03:31   where, like, everyone has worn the exact same thing

00:03:35   in a way that that was a positive thing.

00:03:38   So, you know, it's bad enough that we all have

00:03:40   the same phone in our pocket, but for, like,

00:03:43   individuality and fashion and, like, freedom's sake,

00:03:46   it's kind of weird if we're all wearing

00:03:47   the exact same watch and you look around the room

00:03:49   and every single person in the room

00:03:51   has the exact same kind of watch on,

00:03:53   and, you know, it's like, you think about, like,

00:03:55   how Apple Watches are all in sync

00:03:58   with their accurate times, like,

00:03:59   if you could look at everyone's watch face in the room,

00:04:03   chances are you would see, like, at least seven or eight

00:04:06   of people who are using the exact same watch face as you,

00:04:09   and you can watch them perfectly in sync,

00:04:11   sweep that second hand across that exact same watch face

00:04:13   as you, and it's like, on some level, that's kind of creepy,

00:04:16   that's kind of, like, you know, future dystopian-ish.

00:04:19   So, I think this is an area where it's bad enough

00:04:23   that we all are wearing the same watch now,

00:04:24   at least give us more individuality

00:04:26   and give us the ability to have different faces,

00:04:31   and Apple has shown that they are not really up

00:04:35   to the challenge or not willing to take the challenge

00:04:38   of giving us a large variety of good watch faces.

00:04:42   They have a large variety of, like, novelties

00:04:45   where, oh, this might be a fun face,

00:04:47   like the fire and water faces,

00:04:48   like, this might be fun for, like, a day,

00:04:50   and then he's like, oh, well, actually,

00:04:51   I need to be able to tell the time

00:04:53   and have, like, complications and stuff,

00:04:54   and this is all, you know, this is not useful to me.

00:04:57   So, like, there's a whole lot of faces,

00:04:58   and they add a couple new ones

00:04:59   in almost every watchOS release,

00:05:02   and most of them are pretty short-lived.

00:05:03   Most of them are, like, kind of surface-y,

00:05:05   fun to play with, and they're done.

00:05:07   There's not a lot of follow-through, not a lot of depth,

00:05:09   and there's only a handful that are really good.

00:05:12   And so, third parties, I think, are necessary here

00:05:14   because Apple, Apple's never going to satisfy this.

00:05:19   Like, if you look at the arguments,

00:05:22   there's lots of arguments not to do it,

00:05:23   which we'll get to in a second,

00:05:23   but, like, the arguments to allow third-party watch faces,

00:05:27   the biggest argument is the App Store.

00:05:29   You know, the original iPhone had only Apple's apps,

00:05:31   and yeah, it was fine.

00:05:33   It was, you know, it was a good phone for the time,

00:05:36   but people's needs advanced, time moved forward,

00:05:39   demand moved forward, and the environment shifted.

00:05:42   The platform matured, the market matured,

00:05:44   and people wanted more.

00:05:46   And so, imagine how boring the iPhone would be

00:05:50   and how limited it would be

00:05:51   if you could still only run Apple's apps on it.

00:05:54   Well, the watch face is the main app of the watch,

00:05:58   and so to not be able to run third-party watch faces

00:06:01   is very limiting to it.

00:06:03   - Yeah, and I think, too, it's this,

00:06:06   this is cutting a bit to the head,

00:06:07   a bit ahead in the story, but the thing that I've found,

00:06:10   like, so having now played around a little bit

00:06:12   with making custom watch faces is it is remarkable

00:06:16   how much more I enjoy the watch

00:06:19   when I can make the watch face be something

00:06:23   that is exactly what I want,

00:06:26   that isn't the least worst option,

00:06:29   it's the best option for me.

00:06:31   Like, there is something that I think

00:06:32   is just this tremendous opportunity

00:06:34   that Apple is missing out on for that I think,

00:06:37   you know, in the same way that, you know,

00:06:39   there is a dozen different weather apps,

00:06:41   there's a dozen different whatever apps,

00:06:43   like, the whole point of the App Store

00:06:44   is that you can, there's lots and lots of different ways

00:06:48   to solve this, you know, ostensibly a very simple

00:06:51   or similar problems, you know, like,

00:06:53   if the goal is just to tell you the time,

00:06:55   you'd think that's a fairly simple problem,

00:06:57   that, like, Apple's collection of solutions

00:07:00   should be sufficient, you know,

00:07:01   they're all, although all the watch faces tell you the time,

00:07:04   they all tell you the time in a very consistent way,

00:07:07   but that consistency that, like,

00:07:10   leads to this, almost like the sense of compromise,

00:07:12   that, like, even since the original Apple Watch,

00:07:15   it's always driven me crazy that there was no way

00:07:18   to show a big digital time on the watch

00:07:23   that also showed you the date.

00:07:25   That is just, it is not possible.

00:07:27   The biggest the time can be is where, you know,

00:07:30   almost every watch face, the time is sort of

00:07:31   in the top right corner of the watch,

00:07:34   and the only place that you can make it bigger

00:07:38   is if on the extra large face,

00:07:40   which the extra large face is great,

00:07:42   in the sense you wanna put the date on it,

00:07:43   then the date becomes extra large

00:07:45   and the time becomes small.

00:07:46   Like, these types of things, it drives me crazy,

00:07:50   and, like, these types of changes are the problem

00:07:52   where I have a particular way that I like to read

00:07:55   the date and time, and if I went to a watch store,

00:07:58   or if I went to Walmart and, like,

00:08:01   looked at their watch selection, like,

00:08:03   I would look through all the watches

00:08:05   and I would find the one that displayed the time

00:08:07   the way that I wanna display it.

00:08:08   Like, that is a core functionality of a watch,

00:08:10   and now that I've gone down the road

00:08:12   of, like, building watch faces that are exactly

00:08:14   what I want to look like, it's this,

00:08:16   immediately it becomes just like,

00:08:17   this is a tremendously missed opportunity.

00:08:20   And I'm not even caring about the potential, like,

00:08:24   financial opportunities or the app store implications

00:08:28   or business stuff, like, just from,

00:08:29   it's a missed opportunity, I think,

00:08:31   for Apple to endear people to the watch

00:08:35   in a way that, like, make it feel like it's theirs,

00:08:38   that they don't, when they sit in a room with people,

00:08:42   with, everyone's wearing an Apple watch,

00:08:44   like, it's great that you can have a different band,

00:08:46   but even that, like, there's only so many of those,

00:08:48   whereas if you can really customize your watch face,

00:08:51   the opportunity is that then you look at your wrist

00:08:53   and it's yours, like, it looks like your watch,

00:08:56   exactly how you want it, set up exactly the way

00:08:58   that you like, and is probably unique.

00:09:01   And that uniqueness, I think, is just something that,

00:09:05   like, I find really fun, that, like,

00:09:06   I look at my wrist right now and, you know,

00:09:08   I'm running one of my custom watch faces,

00:09:10   and it's like, I'm the only person in the world

00:09:12   whose watch looks like this, and that feels really nice

00:09:16   and feels kinda cool, and it's something you can only get

00:09:18   in digital because, you know, unless you're, like,

00:09:21   custom-making a mechanical or physical watch,

00:09:24   you know, from a watchmaker, in which case,

00:09:26   maybe you could have a one-off watch,

00:09:28   you, you know, you're gonna have a watch

00:09:30   that's similar to other people, and you kind of hope

00:09:32   that it's sort of in the same way of, like, you know,

00:09:34   if you go dress shopping and you buy a dress,

00:09:36   and you hope that someone else doesn't show up

00:09:38   with the same dress, and you just kind of hope

00:09:39   that there's enough of them in the world

00:09:40   that that doesn't happen, but, like,

00:09:42   with a digital device, you can have an infinite number

00:09:46   of watch faces, and it can be exactly yours,

00:09:48   it can be completely unique, and, like,

00:09:50   I think that's awesome, and a tremendous missed opportunity

00:09:52   to not do.

00:09:53   - Yeah, you nailed it.

00:09:54   I mean, it's so much about, like, happiness

00:09:57   of the person using it, it's about individuality,

00:10:00   you know, a, this is a fashion object,

00:10:02   and a critical part of fashion is you generally want

00:10:06   to appear somewhat unique, like, you don't want

00:10:08   to show up in a room and have, as you mentioned,

00:10:11   have, like, a bunch of other people wearing

00:10:12   the exact same outfit as you, like, ideally,

00:10:14   you wanna have some kind of individuality there,

00:10:17   and even, even for people who don't care as much

00:10:19   about fashion as that, which admittedly is a lot

00:10:21   of our audience, probably, I think there's,

00:10:24   there's some element there of, like, you,

00:10:25   you just want something to be yours,

00:10:28   you want something to be, like, a little bit special,

00:10:29   or a little bit custom, or a little bit, like,

00:10:31   you know, made for you, and that's a very powerful feeling

00:10:34   in lots of other markets, and with the watch,

00:10:37   we just don't have that, and as you mentioned

00:10:39   there at the end, like, it seems like a,

00:10:41   like, such a missed opportunity that, like,

00:10:43   this is a computer, it's a high resolution bit-mapped screen

00:10:48   it can display anything, like, you, it doesn't have to,

00:10:52   there's no technical restriction that says, like,

00:10:55   watch faces have to only be, you know,

00:10:57   they have to only have this aesthetic,

00:10:59   or only have these elements, like, no,

00:11:00   it's a screen, it can display anything, any style,

00:11:05   anything that can fit on that screen, it can display it,

00:11:08   and we have such limited options there,

00:11:11   especially once you kind of care about how good they are,

00:11:13   you have even fewer limited options,

00:11:15   'cause there's very few good faces,

00:11:17   that it's, it really is a missed opportunity

00:11:20   for this product that should, it should bring us

00:11:22   the freedom of the computer, like, this is a computer,

00:11:26   computers can do anything you want them to do,

00:11:29   it should bring you that, and instead,

00:11:32   it brings you, like, the, it brings you almost

00:11:34   the same inflexibility as a physical object would,

00:11:38   like, there's very little customization possible

00:11:40   here on the watch face, and that is, that is kinda sad.

00:11:43   - Yeah, and it's funny, because the original introduction

00:11:46   of the Apple Watch had, like, back in the, you know,

00:11:49   with WatchKit 1 and all that, where Apple really didn't seem

00:11:52   to really know what the Apple Watch was,

00:11:54   they knew they were making something,

00:11:56   but they didn't really know how it was gonna be used,

00:11:58   and it was coming out of the world,

00:11:58   and their marketing was kind of clumsy in a lot of ways,

00:12:01   and kind of unclear, but the one thing

00:12:03   that they did get correct in that original thing

00:12:05   was that their big, their big marketing tagline was,

00:12:08   it was our most personal device ever,

00:12:11   and, like, it is the most personal, like,

00:12:13   it is a device that I've had physically attached to me,

00:12:18   listening to my heart beating for a probably,

00:12:22   other, you know, it's probably 99.5%, 99.9%,

00:12:26   of my last four years, like, it is shocking,

00:12:30   other than when my device, other than my Apple Watch

00:12:31   is charging, it is on my wrist, and, like,

00:12:34   that is a tremendous level of, like,

00:12:37   it is my most personal device, like,

00:12:39   it goes with me everywhere, like,

00:12:41   my phone doesn't even go with me everywhere,

00:12:43   but my watch comes with me everywhere I go,

00:12:45   like, it is always with me, and it is,

00:12:49   by, you know, like, as a result, the most personal thing,

00:12:51   and it's like, it's so strange that this most,

00:12:53   most personal device that they make

00:12:56   is, in some ways, the least customizable.

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00:14:29   So we made all these complaints about the Series 4 at first,

00:14:33   and I made my big post, and then stuff started happening.

00:14:37   So I think what first happened is I saw,

00:14:42   right before I wrote my post, I believe you posted

00:14:44   about considering low contrast complications.

00:14:48   So you were basically trying to fix the illegibility

00:14:52   of the Infograph face when it was loaded up

00:14:54   with a bunch of stuff in the middle.

00:14:55   You were trying to fix that by basically making

00:14:58   your own complete set of lower contrast,

00:15:00   like stock complications for things like battery

00:15:02   and weather and stuff like that.

00:15:03   And that helped a lot.

00:15:05   And then I wrote my article about how bad

00:15:08   the Infograph legibility was for telling the time.

00:15:11   And then the discussion started growing.

00:15:14   So Steve Trout and Smith started making stuff,

00:15:18   and you started making stuff.

00:15:20   How did this happen, and where did you land?

00:15:22   - Sure, so originally, I was very unsatisfied

00:15:27   with the look of my wrist when I raised it up

00:15:30   and the look of my Series 4.

00:15:31   I was using the Infograph faces because they're the only ones

00:15:34   that look kind of at home on the device.

00:15:36   And so I'm gonna have to use one of these.

00:15:38   I love the old utility face.

00:15:39   That was always my go-to, but it just looks weird

00:15:42   on this one, and I don't like it.

00:15:43   So whatever the reasons that I had to do it,

00:15:46   it just doesn't look good.

00:15:47   So I wasn't gonna use that.

00:15:49   But my first solution was to say, okay, well,

00:15:51   let's just make a bunch of alternative complications

00:15:55   that are low contrast, whatever you wanna call them.

00:15:58   They're dark, basically, so that the white hands

00:16:00   of the watch feel like they sit visually,

00:16:05   they're much more prominent and visually separated

00:16:07   from the data.

00:16:08   So if I'm glancing at my wrist, the time stands out,

00:16:12   and if I look at it closely, the information becomes visible

00:16:16   in that sense.

00:16:16   So it's always there all the time,

00:16:18   but this is kind of a way to hack the existing

00:16:21   current Clock Kit system to kind of create hierarchy

00:16:24   on the watch face.

00:16:25   And I think my suspicion is for the foreseeable future,

00:16:30   for the next several months, maybe until next WDC,

00:16:34   this is probably the best we're gonna be able to do

00:16:36   to increase legibility, actually at a system level

00:16:40   on the Apple Watch, that if you had a bunch of complications

00:16:43   that were kind of intentionally understated,

00:16:47   you'd be able to read it and see the time,

00:16:49   but still have your data.

00:16:51   But then things got a little fun because,

00:16:53   and I played around with, over the course of the Apple Watch,

00:16:57   I've played around with making custom watch faces

00:16:59   and what that might look like,

00:17:00   but the thing that's always kind of been frustrating

00:17:02   is there was no way that I knew to hide the time

00:17:06   from displaying.

00:17:08   So the Apple Watch always shows the time

00:17:10   in the top right corner.

00:17:12   Even if you have a full screen Sprite Kit application,

00:17:15   it always shows the time in the top right corner.

00:17:19   Like that's just fair enough, it's a watch.

00:17:21   It's gonna always show the time.

00:17:23   But of course the genius of someone like Steve Trotton Smith

00:17:27   is that he found a way to hack watchOS to do that,

00:17:31   using some kind of private framework, API stuff

00:17:34   that I don't understand.

00:17:35   I just took his code and put it into my app

00:17:37   and you can hide it.

00:17:38   - The funny thing is it's subview diving.

00:17:40   It's like it's the oldest hack in the book,

00:17:42   but like it's harder to do that on the watch.

00:17:44   But yeah, it's like diving through subviews in the hierarchy

00:17:46   and finding the one in there and hiding it.

00:17:50   - Yeah, I mean like the way he was able to like open up

00:17:53   the UI application that is actually underneath the app,

00:17:56   the watchOS application, like well beyond me.

00:17:59   But anyway, he started doing it and he took that

00:18:01   and he's gone down this amazing road

00:18:03   where he started making a version of the,

00:18:07   we started off as similar to the Hermes face

00:18:14   that was released this year with the Series Watch 4,

00:18:16   but it still has since like exploded out

00:18:18   and he's just made these super colorful, interesting,

00:18:21   ultra customizable watch faces, which are really cool.

00:18:25   There'll be a link in the show notes

00:18:26   if you just wanna download this project.

00:18:28   Like it's a really cool fun project to play with.

00:18:29   He's made-- - He hasn't just made

00:18:31   watch faces, he's made tools to generate watch faces.

00:18:34   - Yes, and I think you can get a Swift playground

00:18:37   like book for it and so you can play with it on your iPad.

00:18:40   Like it's exploded in complexity and gone down that road.

00:18:43   - And to be clear, can you explain like why,

00:18:46   like how these actually work as apps?

00:18:48   'Cause they don't work the way other watch faces

00:18:50   on the system do, you don't just get another entry,

00:18:52   but like what are they doing?

00:18:53   - Yeah, okay, so these are just apps.

00:18:55   These are just watchOS basic applications.

00:18:58   So they are no special, they're not different,

00:19:01   they're not actually watch faces.

00:19:02   You don't get a red dot on the top of your app

00:19:04   when there's a notification pending

00:19:05   or you can't swipe up to get control center.

00:19:08   Like you get none of that, it is just an app.

00:19:10   These aren't replacements, but what they are,

00:19:13   you can run them as though they are

00:19:17   sort of your watch face though.

00:19:18   So you can replace the existing watch face,

00:19:21   the standard watch face with your app by,

00:19:24   and the simple version is to just use,

00:19:26   there's a setting that you can set for watchOS

00:19:29   that when you raise your wrist,

00:19:32   should it show you the time

00:19:34   or should it show you your most recently used app?

00:19:37   If you change that to be your most recently used app

00:19:40   and your most recently app is always a watch face app,

00:19:44   then every time you raise your wrist,

00:19:46   it'll show you the watch face.

00:19:48   You can do that, there's also,

00:19:49   I've tried to play around with this

00:19:51   and it's a little bit crazy

00:19:51   and it kinda hurts your battery life,

00:19:53   but you can also start a workout in your watch face,

00:19:58   in which case it'll always show on the watch face,

00:20:01   no matter what, because that's how watch apps work.

00:20:04   - That's a good hack.

00:20:05   - Which is not great, I would not recommend,

00:20:08   but if you actually want it to be there all the time,

00:20:10   that's how you do it, but they're just watch apps.

00:20:13   What's fascinating about it is

00:20:16   even though they're not system level,

00:20:17   even though they don't do what they do,

00:20:19   what they do accomplish and what has been tremendously fun

00:20:22   is that it means that you can make your own watch face

00:20:25   and when you look at your watch,

00:20:26   it looks like something different.

00:20:28   And so I've been spending a tremendous amount of time

00:20:30   when I probably should've been working on other things,

00:20:32   but this was way more fun and interesting to me

00:20:34   and just really compelling of a task

00:20:37   is you start to think,

00:20:38   well, what would I want my watch to look like?

00:20:41   And I've made a fancier analog watch,

00:20:45   I made a digital watch,

00:20:46   I made a watch that is a different way

00:20:48   to visualize weather data.

00:20:50   It's been really fun to just think of what this could be

00:20:54   and then to make these.

00:20:56   Knowing full well that at this point,

00:20:57   I have no expectation that this would ever turn

00:21:00   into a product, would never ever turn into something

00:21:03   that can exist in the world,

00:21:05   that Apple would have to, A, allow this

00:21:07   and then B, I mean, other than whatever they invented,

00:21:10   I would have to port any of my ideas over to.

00:21:12   But it's kind of like we were talking about a few weeks ago

00:21:15   with passion projects.

00:21:16   This is just a really fun thing to do

00:21:19   and a really interesting creative outlet

00:21:21   to just come up with these ideas, to build them,

00:21:23   and it's surprisingly easy to make.

00:21:26   It's only been about a week or so

00:21:27   and I've made five or six different watch faces

00:21:30   that I can cycle through on my watch

00:21:32   and depending on what mood I'm in,

00:21:33   I can set that as my most recent app

00:21:36   and it kind of works and it's kind of fun

00:21:39   and technically, it's really fun

00:21:41   to play with the new technology.

00:21:42   I've never used SpriteKit before.

00:21:43   It's relatively straightforward

00:21:46   but SpriteKit is how you're able to do

00:21:47   kind of more smooth animations and things on the watch

00:21:50   which typically otherwise is a tremendously static thing

00:21:54   but that's kind of what's going on here

00:21:55   and I think it's just really interesting to see.

00:21:58   I think once you give a developer community,

00:22:02   like what Steve's genius was,

00:22:07   it was making it feel like this is something

00:22:09   that we can start to play with.

00:22:11   It was like just giving us permission,

00:22:13   doing that initial legwork to make it possible

00:22:17   to hide the date in the top corner,

00:22:19   to kind of give it a framework

00:22:20   for how SpriteKit in this context would work

00:22:24   and then we're off to the races.

00:22:25   We're gonna make a tremendous number of things

00:22:27   and it's just blossomed out from here.

00:22:30   For everyone has different ideas,

00:22:31   different people are implementing them

00:22:33   and even he's talking about people who aren't developers,

00:22:36   who aren't like, this isn't,

00:22:38   they're just someone who just wants a custom face

00:22:41   on their watch, they've gone and they've downloaded Xcode

00:22:44   and installed it and put it on their watch

00:22:47   because that developer process is relatively straightforward

00:22:50   and if everything's in place, you can do that

00:22:52   and you don't have to be a developer to be able to do this.

00:22:55   It's just a really fun thing that has kind of sprung up

00:22:59   and I really hope that Apple is listening.

00:23:01   I mean, obviously, if we can get this kind of,

00:23:03   if we can get this level of quality watch faces

00:23:06   with terrible tooling,

00:23:08   imagine what we could do with real tools.

00:23:10   - Yeah, and to be clear also,

00:23:12   you can't submit these to the App Store

00:23:14   because there's actually a rule against making watch apps

00:23:18   that mimic watch faces basically.

00:23:20   You can't, it's actually prohibited by policy

00:23:23   but so anybody who had that idea, sorry.

00:23:25   But yeah, and there's, everyone can come up with reasons

00:23:27   why maybe Apple isn't or shouldn't or won't be doing this

00:23:31   and I don't think any of those reasons

00:23:35   ultimately overcome the benefit and the coolness

00:23:38   and the joy and the happiness of them doing it.

00:23:41   Like a lot of people say, oh, there's copyright issues,

00:23:43   everyone's gonna make Rolex clones.

00:23:45   Yeah, they will but there's the App Store for that,

00:23:47   there's app review for that.

00:23:48   Like there's copyright issues,

00:23:49   like there's a reason why you don't go to the App Store

00:23:50   and every game has Mario in it.

00:23:52   Like people try that and they quickly realized,

00:23:55   oh, that doesn't work, Apple curates this,

00:23:58   there's rules, there's copyright claims

00:24:01   and everything, like they already have a system in place

00:24:03   for that at a much bigger marketplace

00:24:04   and it works totally fine most of the time.

00:24:06   So copyright is not a concern here at all.

00:24:09   There's already infrastructure, total non-issue.

00:24:12   There's technical things like how would they do it

00:24:14   and I think basic SpriteKit stuff is actually very efficient

00:24:18   on iOS-based platforms.

00:24:21   Anything based on like vector drawing and core animation

00:24:23   is very, very efficient.

00:24:24   And they already have on watchOS,

00:24:27   they already have things like watchdogs

00:24:29   that will kill any app that uses too much CPU time

00:24:31   very aggressively, as you know.

00:24:32   And like they already have limits everywhere,

00:24:36   they already have infrastructure in place

00:24:38   to prevent apps from using too much battery power

00:24:40   or like getting into a really stuck state permanently.

00:24:44   There's already technical measures in place against those.

00:24:47   They already have everything they need

00:24:49   from a like basic technical and policy and enforcement level.

00:24:53   They already have all that set up, it's already in place.

00:24:56   What they would need would be an API

00:24:57   and I think that's not a small deal.

00:25:01   And there is this thing called ClockKit

00:25:04   that all complications kind of live in

00:25:05   and that kind of gives you some idea

00:25:07   of maybe what this API might look like.

00:25:09   And by the way, complications could be achieved

00:25:11   through little XPC windows that we already have everywhere.

00:25:14   That's already what they are, I think,

00:25:16   where like you basically could provide

00:25:18   like a window in your clock face,

00:25:20   say this region is a complication of this type

00:25:23   and then the system could populate that visually

00:25:25   with the contents of that complication

00:25:29   and from the user perspective or whatever.

00:25:32   So like that's, complications already have an easy way

00:25:35   to be done that's already in place.

00:25:37   Policy, copyright, resource limiting,

00:25:40   these are all already solved problems.

00:25:43   The only thing they would need to do

00:25:44   is change their minds on it and make an API.

00:25:47   And that's not a small thing,

00:25:48   that's not like a trivial thing,

00:25:50   but nothing about the world we live in now

00:25:52   is trivial or small, like this is all work

00:25:55   and the fact is if they wanted to do it,

00:25:57   if they had the will to do it and they prioritized it,

00:26:01   they could do it, there's nothing stopping them.

00:26:03   They've done way more impressive things.

00:26:05   (laughs)

00:26:06   So this is a very basic thing

00:26:08   that I think would have wide reaching positive effects,

00:26:12   more positive than even things like adding cellular.

00:26:16   Like I think it's a bigger deal than cellular

00:26:18   to have custom watch faces.

00:26:19   That's how big of a deal I think it would be for them

00:26:21   and how much of a benefit it would be for them

00:26:23   and it would be way less work.

00:26:24   So I really, really hope that we get this

00:26:28   and I think the time is right that we should have had it

00:26:32   by now so maybe we'll have it next year.

00:26:34   The time is right that we should have this.

00:26:37   - Yeah and I think too there's this fundamental aspect

00:26:39   of I've been making Apple Watch apps since it was possible.

00:26:44   I've made a lot of watchOS apps.

00:26:47   I've made and shipped to the store a dozen apps

00:26:51   and worked extensively on a handful of those.

00:26:54   It is something that I've spent a lot of time working on

00:26:57   and I think the thing that I find so fascinating

00:26:59   about the platform is it still kind of feels like a platform

00:27:03   that other than a very few particular areas

00:27:06   is kind of missing an app story that makes a lot of sense.

00:27:10   That I think the apps that make sense on the Apple Watch

00:27:14   are these very either fitness apps,

00:27:17   which I think make a ton of sense,

00:27:20   or they're very simple data display apps

00:27:22   and things like that.

00:27:23   But for the most part there's not a killer,

00:27:25   it's not like this killer app that everyone needs to,

00:27:28   that you're excited to show your friends on the watch.

00:27:32   It doesn't have that same sense of most of the apps

00:27:36   are replacements or alternatives

00:27:39   to the system built in apps and it's not something

00:27:41   that I feel like is quite as compelling.

00:27:44   And I think what is interesting to me is,

00:27:47   and as a result the developer interest in this platform

00:27:49   I think is relatively low.

00:27:51   Like of all of Apple's platforms, maybe after tvOS,

00:27:53   this is probably the least compelling

00:27:55   and interesting platform for a lot of developers.

00:27:57   A lot of applications, developers and makers

00:28:00   are pulling their, you know, have been discontinuing

00:28:02   their watchOS apps.

00:28:02   Like they're just not a very compelling

00:28:04   and interesting thing.

00:28:05   But this is an area that I can, like it is kind of staggering

00:28:09   to think, I think the number of developers

00:28:13   who would make and develop watch faces for the Apple Watch,

00:28:17   I think would be very substantial.

00:28:20   I think it would be an area that would be very,

00:28:22   people like people would play with,

00:28:23   they just want to play with,

00:28:25   come up with a tremendous amount of variability

00:28:26   and just, it would be a tremendous opportunity

00:28:29   and a lot of exciting, interesting time for the platform,

00:28:33   which I think would be,

00:28:34   is the most compelling reason to do it.

00:28:35   It's just to get developers interested in the platform

00:28:38   in a way that they aren't currently.

00:28:41   And I think on the flip side and like the big positive

00:28:44   is from the user's perspective, if they did that,

00:28:46   I think it would endear people to the platform.

00:28:48   It would give them the sense of excitement.

00:28:50   It would be a bit more fun.

00:28:52   You know, it's like,

00:28:52   "Do you want a watch face that looks like this?"

00:28:54   You know, there's a watch face for that.

00:28:56   Do you want a watch face that looks like this?

00:28:57   There's a watch face for that.

00:28:58   Like you could go back in some ways

00:29:01   to the early days of the iPhone

00:29:02   where so much of the fun was that there was so many apps

00:29:06   and there was such variability.

00:29:07   And that is, I think, something that watchOS is missing now,

00:29:10   but would tremendously benefit from in the future.

00:29:12   - Oh, and it isn't even just about looks.

00:29:14   Like these watch faces could be useful.

00:29:16   They could be apps in themselves.

00:29:18   You could have like the overcast watch face

00:29:20   that happens to show the time

00:29:21   but also shows detailed information about overcast.

00:29:23   Like there's so much potential here.

00:29:25   You could have a weather face.

00:29:26   Like there's so much deep potential here

00:29:29   of things that can go way beyond

00:29:30   what complications can do today

00:29:32   'cause they need access to a face

00:29:33   and to different data or different sizes or whatever.

00:29:37   There's so much potential here for both pleasing designs,

00:29:40   nice designs, and also useful applications.

00:29:43   I really hope they do it.

00:29:45   Anyway, thanks for listening everybody,

00:29:47   and we'll talk to you next week.

00:29:49   - Bye.

00:29:50   [BLANK_AUDIO]