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iOS 11 Streamlines Creation of Custom Apple Watch Faces With New Share Sheet Option in Photos

Apple has made it easier than ever for users to create custom watch faces on their Apple Watch in iOS 11, thanks to a new share sheet option within Photos on iPhone.

On the current operating systems for iPhone and Apple Watch, users can choose a "Photo" watch face to add to their Apple Watch, but the only way to change the picture is to customize the face on the Apple Watch and swipe left and right through photos in a synced album. "Photo Album" is also available, which automatically shuffles up which picture will appear on Apple Watch -- again, within a selected album -- each time the wrist is raised.


Now, Apple has added in a simple new share sheet to Photos on iOS 11, as spotted by French site Watch Generation [Google Translate]. After a photo is selected the sheet gives the option to "Create Watch Face," then users have to choose which face they prefer: a typical photo face where the image is presented as normal, or they can turn the image into one of Apple Watch's new kaleidoscope faces.

For the Photos face, users can now also select 10 custom images directly within the Watch app to add into the photo rotation of the watch face. This should make creating a custom Photos watch face much easier than the current method in iOS 10, where users either have to choose from one of the pre-set albums in iOS, or go into the Photos app to build a custom one with the images they want to see on their Apple Watch face.


For the kaleidoscope watch face, Apple appears to have multiple pre-set images to choose from that result in the distorted images seen at WWDC this week, including a flower and a few of the colorful exploding sand imagery already available as iOS wallpaper options. When users add in a custom image, it'll appear at the end of this list. There are also custom styles of kaleidoscope to choose from, including one that distorts images with triangular geometry ("Facet") and one with softer circles ("Radial").

Check out previous MacRumors coverage from WWDC week for more iOS 11 tidbits, including easier Wi-Fi password sharing, new AirPods controls, Control Center customization, QR code support in Camera, and more. There's also our hands-on video with the new iOS that walks through a few of the biggest additions to the iPhone software, which will launch for everyone sometime this fall.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 5
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)


Top Rated Comments

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19 months ago
This is interesting. But what the Apple Watch really needs, is its own watch face store with an array of watch faces that the user can choose from. And allow a developer kit that the developers can have access to and create hundreds of watch faces to expand on the ones they have currently .
Rating: 28 Votes
19 months ago
Users: We want to be able to customize the hands, the minute and hour marks, and add the Monogram to more faces!
Apple: Here's the Kaleidoscope face!
Rating: 10 Votes
19 months ago
Not good enough. Why aren't Faces open to developers yet? This is the killer customisation feature that the Watch really needs. Keeping a tight control over it is garbage.
Rating: 10 Votes
19 months ago

This is interesting. But what the Apple Watch really needs, is its own watch face store with an array of watch faces that the user can choose from. And allow a developer kit that the developers can have access to and create hundreds of watch faces to expand on the ones they have currently .

This. It seems like a no brainer. People like having the ability to personalize. If anything the sheer amount of watch bands on offer, OEM and 3rd part, should give Apple an indication that personalized watch faces is a good idea that would be nearly universally appreciated by AW owners.
Rating: 7 Votes
19 months ago
The new watch faces are only useful to 5-year-olds or people who want to relive their LSD experiences of the 60s. Everyone else is out of luck.
Rating: 5 Votes
19 months ago
While I think it's great that they're continuing to add to customization...at least let devs create watch faces. I would think that would be one of the top 5 features of a smart watch before it's released, not something that's still being tinkered with 3 generations in and 4 watch OS's later.

What harm could it do?
Rating: 4 Votes
19 months ago

This. It seems like a no brainer. People like having the ability to personalize. If anything the sheer amount of watch bands on offer, OEM and 3rd part, should give Apple an indication that personalized watch faces is a good idea that would be nearly universally appreciated by AW owners.


Exactly. If Apple can release several versions of watchbands a year, it would be nice if we had more options for additional watch faces through various updates throughout the year as well. This is something They need to expand upon.
Rating: 4 Votes
19 months ago

It seems like a no brainer.

But then you'd have every Tom, Dick and Harry knocking out "Herpes" or "Mucky Mouse" watch faces and selling the for fifty cents. Can't have that.
Rating: 3 Votes
19 months ago

But then you'd have every Tom, Dick and Harry knocking out "Herpes" or "Mucky Mouse" watch faces and selling the for fifty cents. Can't have that.

I'd say so what? No different different than the App Store now. The market dictates what's successful and what's not.
Rating: 3 Votes
19 months ago

This is interesting. But what the Apple Watch really needs, is its own watch face store with an array of watch faces that the user can choose from. And allow a developer kit that the developers can have access to and create hundreds of watch faces to expand on the ones they have currently .

Quoting myself from a thread down in the watch sub-forum, as much as I'd like an Apple Watch Face Store, I don't see it happening any time soon, for several reasons:
[LIST=1]
* Apple is heavily invested in design, they (arguably reasonably) feel themselves to be pretty skilled at it, and figure they can make the best watch faces (I recall hearing that some of the top designers on the watch team were/are also fans of high-end analog watches) - this is arguably their pride "hurting" their customers, but when Jony Ive makes those videos saying, "This is the best XYZ we've ever made", I believe he really means it.
* Watch faces are displayed perhaps 95% of the time that the watch display is on, and must always be ready to display instantly (which means pre-computing anything that's going to take more than a few milliseconds to generate), and must be able to update instantly... all this means the watch face code has to be the most lightweight and highly optimized code on the watch (10% less efficient code here pretty much means 10% less battery life) - I don't think Apple feels ready yet to hand that kind of control over to third parties... in addition, with the watch face being so central to everything on the watch, they may have an internal roadmap of planned features that they want to finish before letting others play (i.e. if they allow 3rd party faces now, and then add some feature that they'd planned, in watchOS 5 or 6, but it breaks the top five 3rd-party faces, that causes them grief) - right now they can radically change the way watch faces work / are implemented with every minor update, and they only have to worry about updating their dozen or so faces.
* Because of the limitations in the previous point, watch faces submitted would require a large amount of time-consuming vetting and likely result in a high percentage of rejections. They may simply not want to invest the time in vetting the huge influx of submissions they'll get now (and there's no practical way to say, "no, only submit the good stuff"). A ton of developers of varying levels of competence will see it as a minor gold rush (just like the original App Store), and race to submit something/anything, to "get in on the ground floor".

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Exactly. If Apple can release several versions of watchbands a year, it would be nice if we had more options for additional watch faces through various updates throughout the year as well.

Ah, but software developers are not choosing which shade of blue fluoroelastomer to pour into the Sport Band making machine. Changing colors of physical things does not pose the same technical challenges as keeping code running efficiently.
Rating: 3 Votes

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