Marco Arment: It’s time for Apple to allow third parties to create Apple Watch faces

“Infograph suffers from two major issues,” Marco Arment writes for “The center complications reduce the contrast between the dial and hands, often making the hands hard to locate. This is avoidable with customization, although the defaults should be much more conservative. It takes too much cognitive effort (and therefore time) to distinguish the current hour. This is simply a flawed design.”

“Even with almost no complications, the basic essence of the Infograph dial has poor time legibility,” Arment writes. “When it’s being used as Apple seems to intend, time-telling at a glance is so difficult that many people have actually suggested setting the digital time as the center complication, at which point the hands are just a nuisance and we should stop pretending it’s an analog face.”

“By now, we’ve seen Apple’s design range that they’re willing to ship as Watch faces, and while it seems broad at first glance, it’s actually pretty narrow,” Arment writes. “And we’re restricted to the handful of good watch faces that Apple makes, because other developers aren’t allowed to make custom Watch faces.”

“The Apple Watch is an amazing feat of technology. It’s a computer. It can display anything. With no mechanical or physical limitations to hold us back, any watch-face design from anyone could plausibly be built, enabling a range of creativity, style, and usefulness that no single company could ever design on its own,” Arment writes. “But they won’t let us. In a time when personal expression and innovation in watch fashion should be booming, they’re instead being eroded, as everyone in the room is increasingly wearing the same watch with the same two faces. Open this door, Apple.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: You’d think that Apple, of all companies, masters of UI/UX design, would be able to come up with great watch faces or, at the very least, would have hired some top-flight designers from traditional watch makers to do the job.

Failing on both of those counts, Apple should have opened Apple Watch faces to third parties long ago.

This is why we use the Nike+ Digital on all of our watches. It’s the only one (besides Modular) that works at a glance and lets us have (barely) enough complications on the face. Apple offers tens of faces, but we’d only consider ever using two or three of them (Siri watch face, maybe) on a regular basis.


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