Since the Apple Watch’s original release in 2015, almost all of the device’s personalization has been tied to the swappable wrist bands. While custom watch faces seems like a no-brainer feature, users have been limited to making small adjustments to Apple’s default faces. This could finally be changing in the future, as the latest beta for watchOS 4.3.1 includes code that mentions support for third-party watch faces.
The code was found in the watchOS beta’s NanoTimeKit, the framework that handles watch face configurations, which is usually inaccessible to developers. While full customization isn’t yet enabled, a log message was present that clearly stated “this is where the 3rd party face config bundle generation would happen.”
The developer toolset is far from being functional at this point, but the presence of the message seems to indicate that Apple is considering giving app makers access to that part of NanoTimeKit. Assuming the toolset continues to be implemented, it could allow third-party apps to set their own watch faces, something developers and users have wanted for some time.
Apple Watch faces are mostly limited to digital or analog time displays and a choice of complications, with any new additions only coming from Apple itself and remaining under their control, such as the Disney and Pixar characters added last year. It’s likely that custom watch face support won’t arrive until watchOS 5, so we might find out more at this year’s WWDC in June.