Since watchOS 2.0’s announcement I’ve known that I would want to use the Photo Album watch face. The ability to have my favorite photos display every time I looked at my Apple Watch’s display made me think the device was about to get more personal. Facer’s launch today takes that personality one step further.
I’ve owned the Apple Watch for about six months now, and everyday I feel like I’m in a small battle with it. While I did fall in love with the device, I could never get over the fact that it always felt “static.” On the iPhone, the interface comes alive with iOS 7’s parallax. Buttons can be “pressed” beneath the finger. The user interface very much seems to respond as an extension of physical interactions.
That experience feels natural on an iPhone, but with Apple Watch it’s missing. It feels like I’m interacting with a small sticky note of information on my wrist. I’ve added and removed complications, I’ve changed the watch faces countless times, and I’ve downloaded all the apps but nothing makes the Apple Watch “feel” like an interactive device to me. This is the antithesis of everything Apple hoped for the product to be, but I just can’t find a way to make it work. Everyday it feels like I need to put more work in before I get the experience I want out.
Ignoring this problem, and how the device just feels so slow, I still want to love it. The wrist is a great location for the next step forward with technology as it’s always available, but out-of-the-way.
Once watchOS 2.0 was released, I jumped on the opportunity to use the Photo Album watch face. I knew I would miss using complications, but it the Photo Album watch face seemed like exactly what I wanted. I was already faving (liking?) photos in my albums, so this felt like a great use of that time spent. I setup the Photo Album watch face using my Favorites album and tried it out for a week. Even in just a few short days, that “static” feeling began to creep up again. It felt like I was seeing the same photos over and over again.
I know this wasn’t true. I know I hadn’t seen all the images on my Watch yet, but the fact was that I had seen the images before. I had seen them all on my phone. While I loved seeing images of my girlfriend or pictures of her and her dog, it started to feel tedious again. The surprise and wonder I had hoped the watch face would invigorate, was gone.
Maintaining a photo album of favorite photos was just not something I wanted to do at all. With no solution available, I ended up just choosing one good photo of my girlfriend, and leaving it at that.
This is what made me so excited when I first heard about Facer. Facer is an iOS app that syncs photos from selected “themes” to your Apple Watch’s synced photo album. Let’s say a user wants to see their latest Instagram photos on their watch. They would have to go through the process of downloading them and then adding them to their synced photo album. Facer handles all that for them automagically.
On first launch of Facer, the application walks users through a required setup process. The user is guided into the Watch application on iOS, and told to select the ‘Facer’ album as the synced album. Facer utilizes an animated walk through to make it clear where the user needs go.
Once the correct album has been synced, Facer shows users multiple themes to select from. Currently there is a lengthy list of options and each one is as enticing as the next. Instagram and Tumblr are on there, alongside official brands like Garfield, Betty Boop, and Popeye. If none of those pique interest, Facer also includes free high-resolution stock photos from Gratisography and Unsplash.
While the gorgeous images from the stock photo sites are great, what sold me on Facer was the educational themes. Facer includes two language based themes, Spanish and French. When either of these have been selected, Facer syncs an image with a selected word from that language. This may not be on par with learning software like Rosetta Stone, but it is a welcome addition. It’s non-abrasive and natural experience for the learner.
My concern when using the application was how the device storage would handle synced images. Would they sync and never delete? Would I have to delete all the images on my own? Facer proved its design thoughtfulness when I went and changed my selected theme. When I selected a new theme, Facer presented an iOS dialog asking if I wanted to allow deleting photos that previously synced in the Facer photo album. I no longer had to worry about taking up storage or having to manually remove the photos as Facer provided me with an easy method.
Over the past few days, the Photo Album watch face and Facer have become my favorite Apple Watch tools. I wanted an application that integrated well with my watch in a way like nothing else does, and I believe Facer has aced it. It’s a creative and seamless way to get new content onto the watch making it feel fresh and alive each time I look at it.
Facer is available on the iOS app store for free, with different in-app purchases depending on the partner themes selected.