Apple has often been criticized for not offering nearly as many Watch faces for Apple Watch as Google does for Android Wear. This remains true since Apple doesn’t provide developers with a third-party watch face API.
And yet, over the years, Apple has added more options and flexibility regarding Watch face customization, a positive move that has continued with the recent release of watchOS 9.
Not a third-party Apple Watch face store, but …
With watchOS 9, Apple now offers native Watch faces across 49 categories. This includes a nice collection of new and updated Watch faces, including the whimsical Playtime, stoic Metropolitan, spacey Lunar, redefined Astronomy, and others. In addition, Cupertino has also brought Nike Watch faces to all Apple Watch models for the first time.
Though Apple doesn’t allow developers to create and sell third-party Watch faces, it allows third-party complications, including our favorites. This combination of faces across nearly 50 categories and hundreds (maybe thousands) of available complications means there are many ways to customize your wearable device.
And yet, there’s another less publicized way to add further Apple Watch customization. In the App Store, you’ll find some highly-rated third-party apps that take greater advantage of those third-party complications to create what looks like all-new watch faces.
No, these apps don’t replace the need for an Apple Watch face API. And yet, it brings us closer to that reality.
Watch Faces by Facer
Facer is one of the most popular watch face apps for Android Wear. Facer offers a slimed-down version for Apple Watch to stay within the App Store requirements. The freemium app offers customizations that match the Apple Watch model, including the best Apple Watches on the market. For example, there’s already a selection of faces for the Apple Watch Ultra.
With Facer, you can find original designs that take advantage of images and existing Apple Watch faces and complications. The result is a thorough list of uniquely styled faces that should match your tastes.
With over 50,000 “fabulous” watch faces, TimeFlik is a subscription-only service that comes with a free 30-day trial. A built-in face creation tool makes it possible to match your Photos to a fresh design using a nice toolbox of various fonts and styles.
TimeFlik often offers special edition creations. For example, you can currently find special designs featuring Coca-Cola and Minions. There’s also an Apple Watch band subscription service worth considering.
Finally, there’s WatchMaker which calls itself the “#1 watch face platform in the world.” Like the other two options, WatchMaker is offered through a premium subscription, although there is a free three-day trial avaiable to new users.
WatchMaker is noted for its cool text effects and OpenGL shaders. It also offers countdown clocks, charts, rings, and more.
A step in the right direction
I still hope Apple someday releases an actual Apple Watch face API to developers. Until it doesn’t, however, there are some great customization tools already on the market. While most of the tools come directly from Apple, there are also third-party solutions worth considering.