For as long as the Apple Watch has existed, developers have been asking Apple to let them make their own custom watch faces, a feature that customers would likely enjoy as well. Now in the third generation of the Apple Watch, developers are still not unable to do so. That may change, however, in a future version of watchOS.
The feature was potentially hinted in a breakdown of the beta code for watchOS 4.3.1. The code in question has to do with a component of the NanoTimeKit framework. This is the part that is responsible for watch faces. Contained within is a log message referencing currently unavailable developer tools that appear designed to allow communication with XCode running on a Mac.
"This is where the 3rd party face config bundle generation happen," the log states.
At face value (see what we did there?), the wording seems to reference a feature that is not yet available, but is coming soon to watchOS. Viewed from that angle, one might assume that developer support for custom watch faces could be implemented in watchOS 5. Or maybe not. App developer Steve Troughton-Smith pointed out on Twitter that third-party watch face configuration bundles have been around for years.
"I wouldn't get too excited about a log message just yet," Troughton-Smith tweeted.
The other reason not to get too excited is because Apple keeps such tight controls over its ecosystem and certain features, this being one of them. This is especially true when it comes to the user interface of its products. As it stands, users have limited options in changing the watch face—there are a few presets, including a Mickey Mouse animation, and users can also select a photo of their own.
We should know in a couple months whether or developers will be able to make their own custom watch faces, as Apple is expected to unveil watchOS 5 at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June. Until then, we'll just have to look for more clues in beta code.