by Jim Lynch

Apple Watch: It’s time for the honeycomb interface to go!

Aug 05, 2016
Consumer ElectronicsSmartwatchesWearables

The honeycomb interface on the Apple Watch’s screen is an annoying mess to deal with, and Apple should dump it in watchOS 4.

When Apple released the Apple Watch, it was a whole new platform for the company. And, as with all new platforms, the Apple Watch has had some growing pains. Some software features have worked well, while others needed tweaking.

One of the things that most users either love or hate is the honeycomb interface of icons on the Apple Watch home screen. The honeycomb has been around since the debut of the Apple Watch, and it’s still there in the watchOS 3 beta I’m running on my space grey 38mm watch.

Why I dislike the honeycomb on the Apple Watch

Try as I might, I can’t warm up to the honeycomb. I find it to be a royal pain in the ass to scroll around trying to tap on the app I want to open on my Apple Watch. I will often tap on the wrong app icon by mistake and then have to go back to the honeycomb.

I’ve even turned on Reduce Motion in the Accessibility settings, which makes all of the icons on the honeycomb the same size. That helps a little bit, but I still hate the honeycomb. It’s just a stupid way to launch apps on the Apple Watch.

I also loathe trying to organize the icons on the honeycomb screen. You have to have an enormous amount of patience to try and get them arranged in a way that you like, and I just don’t want to spend the time to do it. Believe me, I’ve tried and the closest thing to a good arrangement I could do was to have the app icons in rows of three.

I’ve seen some interesting guides and suggestions on how to arrange the honeycomb icons, but I just don’t have the patience to mess with them. Apple really should have come up with a better interface that doesn’t annoy the user so much, and one that is very easy and quick to organize.

Don’t get me wrong here, I still love my Apple Watch. It’s a great device, but if I had to pick one thing to change it would be the honeycomb. I’d get rid of it ASAP and replace it with a much more intuitive app launcher.

watchOS 3 makes the honeycomb less necessary

One great thing about watchOS 3 is the Dock, which lets you easily access your most used Apple Watch apps without having to go to the honeycomb on the home screen. Since I installed the watchOS 3 beta, the honeycomb has become less annoying because I simply don’t have to access it very often.

Unfortunately, when I do I still dislike the honeycomb. I really wish there were a way to just turn it off and have a list of apps that I can quickly scroll through and arrange in alphabetical order or in any other way I want.

I was disappointed that watchOS 3 didn’t do away with the honeycomb altogether. Perhaps we’ll get that in watch OS 4, I have my fingers crossed. There has to be a better way to launch apps on the Apple Watch than the honeycomb.

apple watch honeycomb interface ios app

What other Apple Watch users think of the honeycomb

I’ll leave you with this selection of comments about the honeycomb from a recent thread on the Apple Watch subreddit. Opinions in the thread seemed to vary considerably, with comments mostly split between folks who love the honeycomb and folks who hate it:

Thesoliloquist: “Apple, the honeycomb interface is seriously unintuitive. I hate opening the app screen because it’s a cluster mess of tiny icons that I mis-tap four out of five times, so I resort mostly to complication shortcuts. I really hope Apple redoes the app interface in the long run, and comes up with more user-friendly UI in the long run.”

FrancoisarouetV: “I love the honeycomb layout and I use the camera shortcut frequently. The photos app exists for the photo watch face, which I love to use.”

Simbo64: “I would like to see the honeycomb icons increase in size if the user reduces significantly the number of apps that they have.

Also’s if we could have folders on the honeycomb which when selected open up a view a bit like the old ‘friends side button’ but for apps, that would be nice.

I don’t think anyone has storage issues in the watch so I’m not bothered about being able to removed rarely/unused apps but being able to folder them up could be good.”

Quintsreddit: “That’s why I have mine arranged in the mathematically most efficient way, according to this guy.”

Awildanonhasappeared: “That’s really smart but it’s also too much work.”

Thesoliloquist: “Indeed. I tried doing it, but dealing with the bubbles to arrange them like that requires some good patience!”

Imronburgundy83: “Make it a list format where I can put the apps in an order I deem appropriate/useful. Right now, I have the 3 or so apps I use in one quadrant of the layout so I can find them.”

Swanny246: “I was pretty surprised to find that Apple didn’t change anything with the app launcher on watchOS 3. I thought they would have found a better way of making it more intuitive, but instead they just rolled out app shortcuts through complications, which is helpful, but doesn’t improve the app launcher in any way.”

Slorpydiggs: “I like the layout but it does encourage me to seriously edit the apps I have installed on the phone because it can become messy/unmanageable easily. I don’t know that it’s a downside really though because I don’t see a point to an app sitting on my watch that I don’t frequently use, so I’m almost glad it forces me to audit periodically to keep things tidy.”

Uriah_heep: “Give me a grid I can fill in piece by piece on my macOS machine, including blank spaces between icons. I don’t care for the entire management model of the iOS system, where macOS manages iOS, and iOS manages watchOS. This whole model is ripe for re-thinking.”

Tangoshukudai: “I disagree, people love it and play with it, and the icons and layout are iconic. I also like that they made heart beat, and others separate apps. You can rearrange the apps in any order so if you only use one put it in the middle or just access it from a complication.”

More at Reddit

Did you miss a post? Check the Eye On Apple home page to get caught up with the latest news, discussions and rumors about Apple.