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How to set Portrait photos as Apple watch face

If you love keeping photos as wallpapers, you are going to love this new watchOS 8 feature. You can now set Portrait mode photos as Apple watch face. And the most fantastic thing is it will be dynamic, i.e., every time you raise your wrist or tap the display, a new photo will appear.

Amazingly, that’s not all! Apple Watch will employ special tricks to enhance the photo and make it look more appealing and interactive. If you want to explore the Portrait watch faces and see what you can do with it, keep reading!

What is Portraits watch face?

Portrait mode is amongst the coolest feature of the iPhone camera. It uses machine learning to enhance the main object and intelligently blur out the background. And now your Apple Watch can take advantage of this feature.

How does it work?

Apple Watch uses an immersive, multilayered effect to breathe life into the portrait photo. Let me explain with an example.

How Portraits watch face work on Apple Watch

It uses depth data to crop out the people/object in the photo and imparts a 3D effect. Additionally, the subject is slightly animated. So when you tilt/move your wrist, the image in the watch face also tilts accordingly.

What’s more? You can load up to 24 photos in the Portraits watch face and shuffle between them or zoom in to enjoy the 3D effect.

How to set portrait photos as Apple Watch face

  1. Launch the Watch app on your iPhone.
  2. Open the Face Gallery tab.
  3. Scroll down and tap the Portraits option.
  4. Tap Choose Photos under the Content section.
  5. Here, select the photos you want as the watch face and tap Add.

    Choose photo to set Portraits watch face in watchOS 8
  6. Now choose a suitable Style from;
    • Classic
    • Modern
    • Rounded
  7. In the Complications section, select Middle (Date) and Bottom to select suitable complications or turn it off for a clean effect.
  8. Now, tap Add next to the Portraits.

    Set Portraits watch face in watchOS 8 on Apple Watch

In seconds, your Apple Watch will sport the new Portraits watch face. To check out all the photos, lightly tap the watch face.

New portraits watch face on Apple Watch

You’ll notice that the watch automatically moves the time and other complications according to the image. But if you want to manage that yourself or add/delete photos, jump to the next section.

Customizations supported by Portraits watch face

While limited, there are a few changes you can make directly from the Apple Watch. So let’s check them out first.

From Apple Watch

  • Zoom in – For no other reason than it’s super fun, you can zoom in or out of the portrait photo by rotating the Digital Crown.
  • Change Style or Complications – To customize the watch face, long-press the screen and then tap Edit. Next, look through the options and select a suitable one.
  • Share watch face – From the edit screen itself, tap on the Share icon and select the contact. You can also send the photo as a message or mail.
Customizations for Portraits watch face

From iPhone

To make any changes, first Launch the Watch app and slide right to select the Portraits watch face in the My Faces section.

  • Edit Style or Complications – Scroll down and select the option accordingly.

    Edit Style or Complications from iPhone
  • Add new photos – Tap x Photos to see all photos that are currently added. Here select Add Photos → choose photos → AddDone.

    Add new photos Apple watch face from iPhone
  • Edit the photo – When viewing all the photos, tap on the one you want to edit. Then, move and scale to adjust and resize the image.

    Edit the photo for Apple Watch faces from iPhone

    To change time and complication placement, Select an option from the bottom. You’ll get up to three options – Top Behind, Top Front, Bottom Front. Tap Done to confirm changes.

    You can also delete the photo from here; tap the Delete icon.
  • Delete bulk photos – In the photo library of the watch face, tap Select → choose the photos → Delete icon from the bottom.

    Delete bulk photos from Watch app on iPhone

Note: While I can see the delete option, it wasn’t working. Maybe because of some bug in the beta.

Hands-on with Portraits watch face

Initially, I did not fuss around the Portraits watch face feature on Apple Watch! But now that I see how the images turn up, it is running to become one of my favorite watch faces.

I loved the 3D effect and pop it brings to the screen. However, I could spot some glitches, like the cropping in the below screenshot.

3D effect with Portraits watch face in watchOS 8

But I guess that could happen with some images, so I won’t deduct points for that. On the contrary, I would add brownie points because you could also set an AirDrop’ed portrait photo from a different iPhone.

Notably, that isn’t the case with portrait photos from Android devices, maybe because the depth-of-field information is lost in the transition.

Overall, I enjoyed the feature and would keep the Portraits as my watch face for some time.

I hope you were able to set Portraits watch face on your Apple Watch. Whatw do you think about it? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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  • Arshmeet

    A self-professed Geek who loves to explore all things Apple. I thoroughly enjoy discovering new hacks, troubleshooting issues, and finding and reviewing the best products and apps currently available. My expertise also includes curating opinionated and honest editorials. If not this, you might find me surfing the web or listening to audiobooks.

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