App Store Review Guidelines updated to bar Apple Watch apps that only tell time

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited April 2015
Apple made a small but important update to the official App Store Review Guidelines on Tuesday, banning developers from creating Apple Watch apps meant mostly to tell the time.




The new rule, under the "User interface" section, states that "Watch Apps whose primary function is telling time will be rejected." Apple has actually been rejecting Watch apps under those terms for some time, but until today hadn't codified the policy.

The Apple Watch includes nine different faces by default -- each of which can be customized with different colors and/or complications -- but does not support third-party ones. Building them in app form might have been a potential workaround, although native faces enjoy more interface conveniences.

More faces could be a possibility when Apple releases a Watch SDK with native app support later this year. Apple has not announced any plans for third-party faces, however.

In the meantime the company could release more faces of its own via software updates. Two faces shown last September, Timelapse and Photo, are absent from the shipping version of Watch OS, but could be restored later or even joined by additional options.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 26
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,407member

    So... no decorative watch faces unless combined with some other function? I'd just like to have a nice selection of watches that don't look like standard issue faces.

  • Reply 2 of 26
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,612member

    A watch is a very personal item -- moreso than a smartphone. After all, I choose to wear a smartwatch; I don't need one. So not allowing us to install our own watch faces (and only giving us the option to customize the Complications and colors on the existing watch faces) is rather short sighted IMHO.

     

    I understand the reasoning somewhat -- Apple doesn't want "ugly" to destroy the look of the Apple Watch. But I say, you have your say over physical design of the watch. Let me have a say as to how "I" want the watch face to look. Just as I can change the way that my smartphone's background/home screen looks.

  • Reply 3 of 26
    nobodyynobodyy Posts: 377member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mazda 3s View Post

     

    I understand the reasoning somewhat -- Apple doesn't want "ugly" to destroy the look of the Apple Watch. But I say, you have your say over physical design of the watch. Let me have a say as to how "I" want the watch face to look. Just as I can change the way that my smartphone's background/home screen looks.


     

    It's not a "I want control" thing, it's a "There are standards and practices" thing. 

     

    If apps that start showing watch faces begin appearing in the store, people will be upset at the limited functionality, the inconsistency with how watch faces should work, and the general wonkiness of trying to make something like that work outside of the paradigm created (the Watch App is the center to ? Watch's universe, rather than the home screen on iOS).

     

    It also makes it harder to launch your own method to distribute watch faces; Apple could control delivery (via Store but separate from apps) to APIs available and integration into the standards that exist by distributing them outside of the App world.

  • Reply 4 of 26
    macinthe408macinthe408 Posts: 1,050member
    I'm sure it's the same reason Apple doesn't allow third-party Phone apps on the iPhone. I'm sure none of them would Hindenburg your phone.
  • Reply 5 of 26
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Mazda 3s View Post

    I understand the reasoning somewhat -- Apple doesn't want "ugly" to destroy the look of the Apple Watch. But I say, you have your say over physical design of the watch. Let me have a say as to how "I" want the watch face to look. Just as I can change the way that my smartphone's background/home screen looks.

    Apple will include the ability to change watch faces.

     

    But 2 years down the line. Once the Apple Watch is established as a legitimate device.

     

    Apple is a master of creating new product categories, and they realize in the initial critical phase, allowing people to completely destroy the look of their watches, and therefore the initial customer impression (Can you imagine how many Fandroids will buy Apple watches just to post pictures on Reddit of their Watch Faces showing an Android robot pissing on an Apple?) is dangerous.

  • Reply 6 of 26
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by macinthe408 View Post



    I'm sure it's the same reason Apple doesn't allow third-party Phone apps on the iPhone. I'm sure none of them would Hindenburg your phone.

    Apple does allow 3rd party "phone apps". They are called Viber, Skype, Facebook Messenger.

     

    The reason they don't allow 3rd party phone apps which interact with the Voice network is primarily because the potential for abuse makes them a threat to the network. The reason they don't allow watch faces, yet, has nothing to do with the reasons they dont allow phone apps which interact with the voice network.

  • Reply 7 of 26
    I played with Android Wear quite a bit, both before and after Google allowed third-party watch faces. The reality is that third party faces have the potential to drain battery like crazy on Android Wear. Some of them were so busy with moving parts and complications (i.e. weather updates) that they drained the watch. Moto 360 suffered greatly from this. So far I have not had one battery complaint with Apple Watch. I use it primarily for notifications/glances and fitness tracking. Yesterday went from 100 to 65 percent. Today I will end up charging it at night. Point is, Apple may well be waiting on third party faces until they have the guidelines in place to not cause battery issues galore.
  • Reply 8 of 26
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by steinm88299 View Post



    I played with Android Wear quite a bit, both before and after Google allowed third-party watch faces. The reality is that third party faces have the potential to drain battery like crazy on Android Wear. Some of them were so busy with moving parts and complications (i.e. weather updates) that they drained the watch. Moto 360 suffered greatly from this. So far I have not had one battery complaint with Apple Watch. I use it primarily for notifications/glances and fitness tracking. Yesterday went from 100 to 65 percent. Today I will end up charging it at night. Point is, Apple may well be waiting on third party faces until they have the guidelines in place to not cause battery issues galore.



    Pretty much what I was thinking. My guess is they'll have tight API's for making watch faces, which will alleviate the battery risk.

  • Reply 9 of 26
    cm477cm477 Posts: 95member

    This is a bit disappointing. Apple has included some nice watch faces, but there are many more talented designers outside of Apple. On my Pebble I have watch faces that display much more information than time, such as weather or a calendar (e.g. Fair Tides, Fair Weather, Timely). The are not necessarily the most attractive watch faces, but then again they are limited to Pebble's limited resolution and lack of color. Apple could easily set rules in place to prevent vulgar or tasteless designs. Hopefully this is a temporary restriction.

  • Reply 10 of 26
    mike1mike1 Posts: 3,135member

    I would imagine that they will someday provide the ability to add watch faces. However, I imagine using an app to change the watch face could be problematic in that it is an app therefore draining system resources and possible affecting operability.

  • Reply 11 of 26
    inklinginkling Posts: 731member
    Sigh, yet another reason to not buy version one of the Apple Watch. Wait until all these issues settle out.
  • Reply 12 of 26
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,454member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Nobodyy View Post

     

    It also makes it harder to launch your own method to distribute watch faces; Apple could control delivery (via Store but separate from apps) to APIs available and integration into the standards that exist by distributing them outside of the App world.


    I predict watch faces will be just like ringtones -- you will pay for them via the watch store. Apple likely feels that have the design skill to create any watch face a user could want, so why let anybody else make money off of them. Even third party licensees like Disney's Mikey Mouse will have to go through Apple. 

     

    I feel like this is the same approach Apple is taking with the watch bands. They feel like they have the expertise to create any possible band a customer could want, otherwise we should have seen some high profile third party licenses to fashion houses already, unless the fashion houses could care less. Either way, it's all money in Apple's pocket. If Burberry wants to sell an ?Watch face, they'll split the profits with Apple.

  • Reply 13 of 26
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,526member
    mac_128 wrote: »
    I predict watch faces will be just like ringtones -- you will pay for them via the watch store. Apple likely feels that have the design skill to create any watch face a user could want, so why let anybody else make money off of them. Even third party licensees like Disney's Mikey Mouse will have to go through Apple. 

    I feel like this is the same approach Apple is taking with the watch bands. They feel like they have the expertise to create any possible band a customer could want, otherwise we should have seen some high profile third party licenses to fashion houses already, unless the fashion houses could care less. Either way, it's all money in Apple's pocket. If Burberry wants to sell an ?Watch face, they'll split the profits with Apple.

    Your usual invidious interprtation of Apple's motives. They don't need to nickel and dime the watch face design market. They do need to keep control of aestheitcs in the early days.

    They are always bragging about how much money they are paying out to developers. That doesn't exactly fit with your narrative.
  • Reply 14 of 26
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,878moderator
    It shouldn't be too taxing on the battery if they have an API that just sends time data out. The Watch only has to recalculate the interface when it wakes up. However, if people start using lots of white then it would use more power when active. The following shows what they could look like:

    [IMG ALT=""]http://forums.appleinsider.com/content/type/61/id/58548/width/1000/height/1000[/IMG]

    One problem with a store is having to look out for copyright designs. Doing it like web apps would be the easiest way:

    http://neilwallis.com/projects/html5/clock/index.php

    They could cap the processing power or the Watch could warn the user how much it's draining and the developer would know to make it more efficient.

    The Watch also has a gyro and accelerometer so it can do a parallax effect like the iPhone home screen so it makes it look like the watch hands are above the watch face and the hand shadows can move a little.
  • Reply 15 of 26
    libdemlibdem Posts: 36member

    I think another issue why Apple is not allowing third-party app faces is because of power consumption. Integrated and "baked" in faces will be much more efficient as the developers know the Apple Watch inside out-from the hardware power characteristics to the OS running under the hood and how the scheduler works etc.

  • Reply 16 of 26
    nobodyynobodyy Posts: 377member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post





    Your usual invidious interprtation of Apple's motives. They don't need to nickel and dime the watch face design market. They do need to keep control of aestheitcs in the early days.



    They are always bragging about how much money they are paying out to developers. That doesn't exactly fit with your narrative.



    I agree.

     

    The revenue stream that Watch faces could bring in is an extra, not the primary purpose of doing it in that fashion.

  • Reply 17 of 26
    konqerrorkonqerror Posts: 685member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by addicted44 View Post

     

    The reason they don't allow 3rd party phone apps which interact with the Voice network is primarily because the potential for abuse makes them a threat to the network.


     

    Not true. See Google Voice, Convoi, etc.

  • Reply 18 of 26
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,407member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post



    It shouldn't be too taxing on the battery if they have an API that just sends time data out. The Watch only has to recalculate the interface when it wakes up. However, if people start using lots of white then it would use more power when active. The following shows what they could look like:



    One problem with a store is having to look out for copyright designs. Doing it like web apps would be the easiest way:



    http://neilwallis.com/projects/html5/clock/index.php



    They could cap the processing power or the Watch could warn the user how much it's draining and the developer would know to make it more efficient.



    The Watch also has a gyro and accelerometer so it can do a parallax effect like the iPhone home screen so it makes it look like the watch hands are above the watch face and the hand shadows can move a little.

     

    I'd love to see Apple license high-end watch faces that would simulate actual watch motion in a UI. This is just beginning.

  • Reply 19 of 26
    moreckmoreck Posts: 187member
    cm477 wrote: »
    This is a bit disappointing. Apple has included some nice watch faces, but there are many more talented designers outside of Apple. On my Pebble I have watch faces that display much more information than time, such as weather or a calendar (e.g. Fair Tides, Fair Weather, Timely). The are not necessarily the most attractive watch faces, but then again they are limited to Pebble's limited resolution and lack of color. Apple could easily set rules in place to prevent vulgar or tasteless designs. Hopefully this is a temporary restriction.

    The Apple Watch already comes with faces that allow you to show the weather, calendar and more.
  • Reply 20 of 26
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cm477 View Post

     

    This is a bit disappointing. Apple has included some nice watch faces, but there are many more talented designers outside of Apple. On my Pebble I have watch faces that display much more information than time, such as weather or a calendar (e.g. Fair Tides, Fair Weather, Timely). The are not necessarily the most attractive watch faces, but then again they are limited to Pebble's limited resolution and lack of color. Apple could easily set rules in place to prevent vulgar or tasteless designs. Hopefully this is a temporary restriction.




    Developers are still allowed to include all the watch faces they want into their apps, just as long as those apps have other functions, as well.  So maybe Apple doesn't want a Watch App Store that's crammed full with tens of thousands of watch face-only apps.  At least not so soon after launch.  

     

    I imagine Apple would rather prefer developers concentrate more on creative, innovative, and cool apps that enrich the whole ecosystem, and ultimately compels more people to buy a watch (and even an iPhone if they don't already own one).  Interesting apps are what will drive watch sales, not watch faces.  People will not buy a Apple watch just for the watch faces, just like people didn't buy phones just to play ringtones.  There has/had to be more compelling reasons.  If or when the watch becomes a huge hit, perhaps face-only apps will then be allowed.

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