Here we are in watchOS 4, and the Astronomy watch face still doesn’t display the full time with hours, minutes, and seconds.
It’s All About Time
Apple has done something like this before. It all started with the original iPad in 2010. Presumably to reach a full 10 hour battery life, Apple had to strip out many, many iOS daemons (processes). That included NTPd, which maintains accurate computer time. As a result, the clock on the original iPad, without periodic corrections, drifted badly because the quartz crystal used couldn’t maintain accurate time by itself. It would drift by about a second a day. After a few months, the error was grievous. Here’s what I wrote at the time.
- What Time is it? Your iPad May Not be Sure (3 Feb 2011)
- What Time is it? Your iPad 2 *Still* Doesn’t Know (21 April 2011)
Apple eventually fixed the problem with iOS 5 and the iPad 2.
Say What Apple?
I can almost understand Apple’s obsession with meeting the original goal of 10 hour battery life. After all, if the product manager gave in on one daemon, other engineers would lobby for their own pet feature. That said, the iPad came to be used in many technical applications such as aviation, science and astronomy. A badly drifting clock was just not good form for this fabulous new tablet from Apple.
However, with the Apple Watch, we have a timepiece for goodness sake. There is no excuse for not having several watch faces to select from that have digital hh:mm:ss. (A sweep second hand doesn’t cut it.) When the Apple Watch first shipped, Apple CEO Tim Cook bragged about 50 millisecond accuracy. So it’s all there, within.
Especially abhorrent is that after all these versions of watchOS, now at watchOS 4, the Astronomy watch face still doesn’t have full hh:mm:ss.
In his review of watchOS 4, our Jeff Butts wrote:
John Martellaro has been crying out for Apple to add this, at least to the Astronomy Watch face, but it’s yet to happen. There is no seconds display in most of the Watch faces. Digital Activity provides the option, but none of the other digital Watch faces have it.
Just before the August 21 solar eclipse, an amateur astronomer wrote me and said that he really needed the full hh:mm:ss for his astrophotography. I pointed out that there remains just one face, not the Astronomy face, but the Activity face that includes the full digital seconds. So that’s proof the Apple Watch can do it if programmed.
I thought for sure watchOS 4 would attend to this small coding issue, but it has not. There are astronomers, pilots, researchers, technicians, military people and many others who need to know the time right to the second. It’s time :: cough :: to make this right for customers.
If you agree, you can go to Apple’s Apple Watch feedback page and tell the company what you think about this serious omission. Apple listens to its customers.