WatchOS 10 has done away with my favorite Apple Watch features

Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

The latest version of watchOS 10 is one of the most significant updates ever made to the Apple Watch user interface. The update mostly revolves around a new stack of widgets that can be accessed by swiping up from the watch face. Users can then scroll through running tasks or any other apps added to the stack.

In anticipation of Apple Watch 9, I’ve been beta testing watchOS 10 for the past few weeks and can attest that the widgets speed up access to your favorite apps. However, these new additions come at the expense of two existing features that I use on an almost daily basis. Needless to say, I’m pretty unhappy about it.

How often do you change the watch face on your smartwatch?

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Instant customization draws me to the Apple Watch

One of my favorite aspects of any smartwatch is the ability to change its look and feel in the blink of an eye. As much as I love my analog watches, their customization tends to be limited to the straps. Not so with a smartwatch, of course. I find myself flipping through various watch faces to suit my mood or occasion several times a day.

Apple Watch Ultra scrolling between watch faces

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

I have an Apple Watch face focused on activity and another with some of my favorite album art; I also have a Batman and Robin themed watch face. Previously, with watchOS 9, I could swipe across the watch face and endlessly scroll through options until I arrived at the one I wanted to practice for the rest of the day or hour. WatchOS 10, however, removes that ability.

watchOS 10 adds unnecessary friction to an otherwise simple customization process.

In fact, the aforementioned scrolling has been replaced with a more cumbersome process that takes away the much-loved flicker of the dials. Now you will need to tap and hold the watch face until you get to the watch face change screen. Only then can you scroll through the options. Plus, you’ll still need to activate the new watch face by tapping the screen again.

This added friction takes away from the quick and easy joy of customization and makes it a more intentional and focused process. And in my opinion, that’s a huge step down for someone like me, who tends to keep a formal and fun watch face placed next to each other for a quick mid-day change.

Apple Watch Ultra with Wayfinder watch face on the wrist

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

It’s not all. I’ve been using the Apple Watch Ultra since it launched last year, and the Wayfinder watch face has been my favorite for a big reason.

By turning the Digital Crown I can switch to an easier-to-read red-on-black setup. Apparently inspired by the Bell & Ross Red Radar watch, I would find myself switching from the standard white-on-black setup to the more original red-on-black setup several times a day. Also, based on how far I rotated the crown, I could adjust the brightness of the screen to slightly extend the battery life.

Apple Watch Ultra with Wayfinder watch face night mode

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

All of that is gone with watchOS 10. Instead, my only option is to keep the Night Mode setup on, off, or in automatic mode, where it will use the ambient light sensor to activate it. Why? Because turning the Digital Crown now brings up the stock of widgets, just like swiping up on the watch face.

Apple’s reasoning might make sense, but I’d prefer more flexibility

I can see Apple’s reasoning behind the feature change to put widgets ahead. Giving users an additional way to view widgets, perhaps while wearing gloves, is logically higher on the priority list than being able to switch a watch face to Night Mode (especially knowing that the Wayfinder watch face is exclusive to the Apple Watch Ultra ). However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that it radically changes a feature that convinced me and that has a direct impact on the way I use my watch. Perhaps a user-customizable choice would have been the right move here.

It’s not uncommon for brands to make radical UI changes, but there should always be a fallback option.

You won’t have to look too far to observe that it’s not uncommon for a company to introduce a major UI change just for the sake of change. The upcoming release of Apple’s watchOS 10 software for the Apple Watch is not one of those cases. It’s part of an ongoing interface overhaul of the company’s iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and even MacBook ecosystems to create cohesion and introduce features that Android fans have come to appreciate for years. But that doesn’t mean it has to be an either-or situation.

The official launch of watchOS 10 was still a couple of weeks or more away, and my experience with the iOS betas shows that Apple keeps tweaking the formula until it’s almost time for the public release. I hope there is a better solution to my woes than the current take-it-or-leave-it approach. Until then, if you’re still using watchOS 9, enjoy these features while you still have them.

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