App Store Review Guidelines Updated to Forbid Time-Telling Apple Watch Apps

Apple has updated its App Store Review Guidelines to reflect an Apple Watch rule that it's been enforcing over the past several weeks, which prevents developers from creating Apple Watch apps that display the time. According to the newly added 10.7 rule under "User interface," Watch Apps that have a "primary function" of telling the time will be rejected.

Though this rule, noticed first by 9to5Mac, was not previously listed in the App Store Review Guidelines or in the Apple Watch Human Interface Guidelines until today, Apple has previously been using this guideline to turn down Apple Watch apps, and its enforcement of this rule appears particularly strict based on some of the apps that have been rejected.

MacRumors recently spoke to one developer who had his app rejected from the App Store due to the time telling rule, but offering the time was not the main function of the app. Instead, it was an app that used a clock-like face to display sunset/sunrise times along with the position of the sun and the moon.

The developer was told by Apple that Apple Watch apps containing a clock face, the likeness of a clock, or time-telling functionality would be rejected, and the Apple employee he spoke with mentioned that quite a few developers had been rejected due to the policy.

A video walkthrough of the available watch faces on the Apple Watch

Given Apple's aim to position the Apple Watch as a fashion accessory, it's no surprise that the company is maintaining strict control over what's arguably the most important core function of the Apple Watch -- telling the time. In interviews, Apple executives have explained that hundreds of hours of work went into developing the watch faces that are available for the Apple Watch, with an obsessive amount of detail put into each one for the best possible time-telling experience.

Apple's also advertised the Apple Watch as an "incredibly accurate" timepiece, a claim that it might not be able to guarantee if a third-party time-telling app is allowed to display the time. Watch faces are one aspect of the Apple Watch that Apple is not allowing users or developers to touch. While watch faces can be customized with Apple's options, users cannot select their own backgrounds as they can do on the iPhone or iPad and developers cannot develop their own Apple Watch face experiences.

Apple often has strict rules when a product launches, but the rules can and do relax over time, as we've seen with iOS 8 and the return of the once-forbidden Launcher app. It's possible that Apple will open up watch faces to developers in the future, or become less strict with apps that include time-telling functionality, but for now those types of apps will not make it into the App Store.

Today's App Store Review Guidelines update also included a new bit about HealthKit. Rule 27.10 says that apps conducting health-related human subject research must secure approval from an independent ethics review board.

Related Roundup: Apple Watch Series 7
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)
Related Forum: Apple Watch

Top Rated Comments

Aluminum213 Avatar
92 months ago
No third party watch faces

But the apple watch is supposed to be the most personal product ever

LOL
Score: 34 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kingofwale Avatar
92 months ago
I'm going to make a prediction and say Apple will start selling new ones for $9.99 very soon.
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
samcraig Avatar
92 months ago
Once again Apple is being help to an unfair higher standard.

Does Rolex allow a third party to custom build a watch face that is supported by Rolex? No. I think not!

Does Rolex have a programmable smart watch where it's even an option?
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MasterRyu2011 Avatar
92 months ago
Really Apple? So no third party watch faces????
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jayducharme Avatar
92 months ago
It's curious then that Apple has no way for their built-in digital watch faces to show seconds. Didn't they think that might be important for some people?
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TWSS37 Avatar
92 months ago
Could this article been any more apologetic? Not being able to design a watch face for a watch is incredible.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

apple ar headset concept 1

Apple's Headset Said to Feature 14 Cameras Enabling Lifelike Avatars, Jony Ive Has Remained Involved With Design

Friday May 20, 2022 6:50 am PDT by
Earlier this week, The Information's Wayne Ma outlined struggles that Apple has faced during the development of its long-rumored AR/VR headset. Now, in a follow-up report, he has shared several additional details about the wearable device. Apple headset render created by Ian Zelbo based on The Information reporting For starters, one of the headset's marquee features is said to be lifelike...
iPhone 14 Purple Lineup Feature

Will the iPhone 14 Be a Disappointment?

Saturday May 21, 2022 9:00 am PDT by
With around four months to go before Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 14 lineup, the overwhelming majority of rumors related to the new devices so far have focused on the iPhone 14 Pro, rather than the standard iPhone 14 – leading to questions about how different the iPhone 14 will actually be from its predecessor, the iPhone 13. The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are expected...
sony headphones 1

Sony's New WH-1000XM5 Headphones vs. Apple's AirPods Max

Friday May 20, 2022 12:18 pm PDT by
Sony this week came out with an updated version of its popular over-ear noise canceling headphones, so we picked up a pair to compare them to the AirPods Max to see which headphones are better and whether it's worth buying the $400 WH-1000XM5 from Sony over Apple's $549 AirPods Max. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. First of all, the AirPods Max win out when it comes ...
studio display 3

Apple's Rumored 27-Inch Mini-LED Display Now Said to Launch in October

Friday May 20, 2022 8:07 am PDT by
Apple now plans to release a new 27-inch display with mini-LED backlighting in October due to the Shanghai lockdown, which has resulted in production of the display being delayed, according to display industry consultant Ross Young. In a tweet, Young said Apple is in the process of moving production of the display from Quanta Computer to a different supplier and/or location, resulting in a...
HomePodandMini feature green

Kuo: Apple to Release New HomePod in Late 2022 or Early 2023

Friday May 20, 2022 8:55 am PDT by
Apple is working on an updated version of the HomePod that could come in the fourth quarter of 2022 or the first quarter of 2023, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Kuo says that there "may not be much innovation in hardware design" for the new HomePod, and there is no word on what size the device will be and if it will be a HomePod mini successor or a larger speaker. Apple would ...
airtag purple

Best Apple Deals of the Week: Save on AirTag, AirPods 3, and iPads

Friday May 20, 2022 8:01 am PDT by
Solid markdowns on the AirTag, AirPods 3, and a few iPad models were introduced this week, and below you'll find all of the best deals of the past few days that are still available to purchase. AirTag Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. What's the...