WatchOS 3 Want: A Complicated Watchface

Apple Watch is a great first generation product to come out of the Cupertino giant’s stables (it’s my favorite Apple product right now). And WatchOS 3 is the NZT-48 that is trying to unlock its full potential. It was announced last week at WWDC and I’m pretty stoked with the WatchOS 3 running on my Space Grey Apple Watch Sport (yes, I installed the developer beta. The Apple fanboy inside me couldn’t wait). What’s not to like? The update has turned the Apple Watch from a Volvo to a Ferrari zooming about its business, the Workout app has become fully-featured, the dock rocks, developers get more accesses and can create better apps and I didn’t think it’d work well, but scribbling short messages on the tiny screen is actually fun and convenient.

But with every great feature that was announced, I feel that there were a few great proverbial rabbits that Kevin Lynch didn’t pull out of his hat. I’ve had my Apple Watch on my wrist everyday for the last 4 months and love it to bits. And, over the next 3 months, while I dip my toes and then outright dive into the waters of iOS 10 and WatchOS 3, I’ll compile a list of things that are ‘wins’ for me and also a list of things that are my ‘wants’ in my dream to create the Apple-driven-utopia that I want my gadget-life to be. The new Workout app is already a win for me. But one thing that I really want, and it is related to where I spend 87% of my time staring at my watch, are watchfaces full of complications.

Complications, along with notifications, are the two things that make the Apple Watch the king of convenience. I am crazy about them. In fact, before downloading an app of any purpose, I make it a point to check if that app has a complication for the Apple Watch. And there are a lot of those complications that I want to see during my day (and no, Apple, I won’t swipe through watchfaces to look at different complications! It is more trouble than I want to go through. That’s at least two interactions with the watch to check a complication that isn’t present on my primary watchface.). I understand that a lot of people wouldn’t want to get bogged down by so much data at one go, but it’d nice to have an option for the people like me who do. My friend, Matt Birchler, created a watchface concept called Modular+ and while some might find it a bit busy, I dig it. With how slow apps were till last week, complications were the only way I interacted with them and having apps surface relevant data when you need it and just glance at your wrist is exactly the hands-free future I want right now. And, now, with apps getting faster, it makes a lot of sense to have app shortcuts for your most-used apps on the watchface itself (I guess that’s why Kevin’s team has already created those small complication-shortcuts to all core apps on the watch). Apple might say that they limit the number of complications to 5 keeping the battery constraints in mind, but, one thing that has been a constant on my Apple Watch since day one is that it has more battery life than I have wanted. And also, complications need to update only once in a while. So ya, a watchface full of complications for power users, want-want-want!

The watchface of my dreams!

Another way this can be achieved, if Apple doesn’t want to do it, is opening up watchfaces and creating an API for developers. And that is something that is a huge ‘want’ for not just me but almost every Apple Watch owner around. I can imagine so many developers who’d have some great implementations for my dream complicated watchface. And seeing the ‘Face Gallery’ and ‘App Store’ sections on the Watch app on the iPhone, I’m hoping that we’ll see the watchface API before WatchOS 3 sees the light of the day in the fall.

I can’t wait to see what else Kevin, Craig and their teams have in mind for these ‘biggest release ever’ updates to WatchOS and iOS. Here’s hoping that these updates win hearts and help our beloved Apple devices reach heights that even the most diligent fanboys never imagined.

Originally published at on June 25, 2016.

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