Apple watchOS 10 set to add widgets in a major interface revamp

The Apple Watch 8 lying on its side with the home screen on show
Imagine the Apple Watch 8, but with widgets (Image credit: Future)

Apple should be showing off watchOS 10 to the world at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on June 5, and we've got some leaked information ahead of time regarding what to expect from the update.

As per the usually reliable Mark Gurman at Bloomberg, there's going to be a "new focus on widgets" in watchOS 10, in what's described as "one of the biggest software updates since the original version" – so it looks like there's a major revamp on the way.

You may remember that there were once widgets called Glances on the original Apple Watch from 2015, but they were phased out over time. Now it would seem they're back, and should be in place by the time the Apple Watch 9 arrives later this year.

Information, at a glance

According to Gurman, the new widgets will combine elements of the old Glances with elements of the widgets that were introduced to the iPhone with iOS 14. The idea is that users can quickly see information without having to launch any actual apps.

That information could cover weather forecasts, activity tracking, stock tickers, calendar appointments and so on. The style of these widgets is apparently going to be similar to the Siri watch face currently available in watchOS 9.

The Digital Crown on the Apple Watch may well be used to launch widgets rather than the home screen in future, Gurman says. He also thinks the new widget-heavy interface will be optional. We'll find out for sure at WWDC 2023 next month.

Analysis: fixing the apps problem

As Mark Gurman points out in his Power On newsletter, apps haven't really taken off on the Apple Watch. Users don't open them, and as a result it's not worth the time it takes for developers to make them – creating a feedback loop that's hard to break out of.

Gurman highlights recent statistics showing that the iPhone App Store has 101 million monthly users in Europe, whereas the Apple Watch App Store has less than 1 million in the same region. That's a giant discrepancy and tells you a lot about how we tend to use smartwatches differently to smartphones.

While the Apple Watch is clearly one of the best smartwatches on the market, most of the time it's the features built into watchOS itself that are being used, rather than third-party apps. In other words, you're more likely to use the device to tell the time or track your steps than call yourself an Uber.

With widgets, Apple is acknowledging that while also offering a way for developers to put useful data and updates in front of people – a bit like the Dynamic Island introduced with the iPhone 14 Pro and the iPhone 14 Pro Max.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.