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Apple May Allow Third-party Watch Face Support in a Future Version of watchOS

Apple May Allow Third-party Watch Face Support in a Future Version of watchOS

A line of code found in Apple’s latest watchOS 4.3.1 beta release indicates Apple could allow third-party watch face support in a future version of the Apple Watch operating system. Such as feature has been requested by Apple Watch users since it debuted back in 2015.


A log message buried in the first watchOS 4.3.1 beta, issued to developers earlier this month, and discovered by 9to5Mac hints at potential third-party integration with Apple’s NanoTimeKit. The private framework is responsible for a number of assets traditionally left inaccessible to developers, including access to watch face configurations beyond complications.

The new beta includes a NanoTimeKit developer tools server to be used for customized watch faces, which currently appears to communicate with Xcode. The serve is inactive, which prevents third-party developers from making use of the framework. That could change in a future version of watchOS.

Accompanying the developer tools server is a log message that reads, “This is where the 3rd party face config bundle generation would happen.” 

The presence of the toolset suggests Apple may open up that part of NanoTimeKit to third-party devs at a future time, perhaps as soon as watchOS 5, which will make its debut at WWDC 2018, scheduled for June.

Apple is known for keeping its major user-facing features of its device close to the vest, preventing outside developer access to many device assets, such as the watch faces on the Apple Watch.


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