As with all technological developments these days, one of the main concerns is the safety and privacy of their owners. When a company brings out its own software, it is more or less guaranteed to be safe and compatible with its own designed hardware. However, when it comes to third-party applications, it’s never a sure thing. So, how safe are watch face apps?
Apple likes to retain control over the way its products work and look. So, for the most part, it bans third parties from interfering with any aspect of its design. When it comes to watch faces apps for the Apple Watch, the same rule applies. And Apple has tried hard not to let its hard work on the device go to waste. Instead providing a host of decent customizable options.
For the Apple Watch 8, there are currently nearly 50 different designs customers can choose from and customize in various ways. From the typeface and color to the many complications. But are all Apple Watch faces safe to use, and are there any risks to using them?
Like any piece of tech, Apple Watches can be hacked or have data stolen from them due to insecure connections. Apple has a policy of not confirming or even discussing any kind of security-related issue, well, at least until a proper investigation is conducted and subsequent updates or patches have been created for them.
To ensure that all of the code for watchOS is stable, multiple automated and manual examinations need to be conducted. This ensures the watch face can run without issue all day long for months and years. Nobody wants to look down at their watch and see glitches. Or find out that it’s frozen and the watch is inaccessible. In addition to testing by Apple’s quality assurers, hundreds of employees use a beta version to test its viability.
Apple releases updates for the watchOS all the time. This indicates that there have been many bugs, errors, and security issues with the watches before the update release. So it’s not unreasonable to believe that a handful of those is related to how the watch face of Apple Watches functions.
If you are using a multitude of third-party complications on your Apple Watch face, you should always be careful of harvesting. We can all remember when apps on iPhones were collecting important data behind customers’ backs without their knowledge. And the same can be true for apps on watches.
You should always be wary of apps requesting permissions. The details of what they’re collecting and how they’re using that data are often in the small print only found on their website, not the App Store.
Nowadays, Apple has understood just how this can be prevented and kudos to them. They have taken steps to prevent unwanted tracking and access to essential information via the watch face. This includes data such as the number of steps you take, your contact information, messages, and even your location. Data collection is big business. Any app that can successfully steal information can make a profit aside from the app by selling it to interested parties.
An app might even be running in the background and gathering data of which connections your watch face is making. They can then utilize that data for their own purposes.
Third-Party Face Apps
Even though you have dozens of faces to choose from when you purchase an Apple Watch, there are still customers who want that higher level of personalization and customization. For this, a third-party app needs to be downloaded. And when it comes to watch faces and styles of clocks, some apps aren’t approved by Apple, for example, Jingwatch and Clockology.
With such apps, you’ll always be taking a risk, even if they work spectacularly well. Because even if they guarantee that your privacy is paramount, there can still be errors with the coding which could potentially harm your Apple Watch. Such apps can’t be downloaded in the usual way and have to be ‘side-loaded’ directly onto the watch. This in itself is a violation of the developer guidelines set forward by Apple.
This means that it could have the potential to spy on the actions of your smartwatch. Seeing which connections are made, and much more. Many apps aren’t even replacing the watch face in a general sense. Rather they are merely applications that run in the background. Faces that are approved by Apple have much better functionality and less drain on the battery.
Pairing Security Vulnerabilities
According to CVE Details, a huge database of potential tech vulnerabilities, for the watchOS, there are nearly 500 different ones listed. Although, this doesn’t mean that all are harmful or related solely to issues with the watch face. But it’s clear to see that an Apple Watch is by no means invulnerable to security threats.
As these smartwatch devices can be paired to your phone, if you have downloaded an app from a third party, there’s every chance that when you make the pairing connection between watch and phone, the app could piggyback that signal and either infect your phone or just stay in the background and monitor activity.
To keep in control of your watch, we recommend reviewing all of the apps you download carefully before installing and setting them up. You can always check out what is happening, and which features the apps have access to, with the Privacy function in your Settings. If you see anything which doesn’t look right, then turn off its access to things like your Contacts, Location, or Photos. Or, better yet, delete the app.
For added security, whether it’s for the watch face or its pairing with your phone, always ensure that there is a passcode lock used, as well as an activation lock.
Have you been affected by using third-party apps on your watch or phone? Let us know in the comments.
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Last Updated on April 14, 2023
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