Widgets are apparently making a big comeback with Apple's watchOS 10.
Last month, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman revealed that watchOS 10 would include “notable changes to the user interface.” At the time, he didn’t elaborate on what this meant, but in the latest edition of his ‘Power On’ newsletter, Gurman has explained exactly what we can expect: watch widgets are coming back.
As a recap, when the Apple Watch first launched seven years ago, it came with a widgets interface known as Glances. Glances was jettisoned pretty quickly, removed with watchOS 3 in 2016 as Apple decided to prioritize notifications and apps for quick information instead.
Felt I needed to share this again, since Gurman confirmed it.April 30, 2023
Now, Gurman says Apple has decided that apps aren’t really working and widgets need to return — though not by resurrecting Glances. Instead, the new system will apparently be a combination of Glances and the widgets system introduced to the iPhone with iOS 14.
“The plan is to let users scroll through a series of different widgets — for activity tracking, weather, stock tickers, calendar appointments and more — rather than having them launch apps,” Gurman writes.
How will that look? Apparently like an amalgamation of other Apple UI implementations. It won’t be a million miles away from the Siri watch face that arrived with watchOS 4 (pictured above), and it will apparently allow for the stacking of widgets like in iOS, where a user can simply scroll through a pile of widgets to see them one by one.
This new interface may require a rethink of what the watch’s buttons do. At the moment, pressing the Digital Crown brings up the home screen, but Gurman says that it may have to open up widgets instead.
A big change for Apple Watch users
This return to widgets is a tacit recognition that apps don’t really work on such a small screen, Gurman says, highlighting the fact that the watch App Store gets less than 1% of the 101 million users who visit the iOS App Store each month in Europe. On watches, people don’t want apps, he argues, instead requiring “as much information as possible with the least amount of poking around.”
That may very well be true, but it’s still a big change, and that may be a culture shock to people who’ve been using the current Apple Watch UI for years without complaint. With that in mind, Gurman says that he “wouldn’t be surprised if the company considers making the new interface optional, at least at first.”
Gurman closed by reiterating that he’s not expecting big hardware changes to the Apple Watch this year — “understandable” given 2022 saw the introduction of a new Apple Watch Ultra alongside the Apple Watch 8 and improved SE.
In other words, watchOS 10 will likely be the biggest change for Apple Watch enthusiasts this year. You should get your first glimpse at what it looks like at WWDC 2023, which kicks off next month on June 5.