Google recently announced some upcoming policy changes for developers, which the company says is intended to improve the quality of apps for Wear OS, including their presentation in the Google Play Store. Google adds that these changes will ensure app users get a basic consistent experience across all apps in accordance with the latest Wear OS design and development principles.
The new requirements will take effect starting August 31, 2023 – for the time being, existing policies will remain in order to review and maintain the quality of Wear OS apps. Google advises developers that all Wear OS apps must target Android 11 (API level 30), meaning that apps that target lower levels will stop being discoverable to Google Play users with devices on Android OS versions newer than the app’s target API level (starting on the end of August 2023). Google listed some examples of criteria to be met:
- Black Background – Use a black background for all apps and tiles.
- Ongoing Activity – When a user has an ongoing activity, you must do the following:
- Show the ongoing activity indicator on the watch face.
- Update recent apps with the appropriate app launcher chip for the ongoing activity.
- Reference the ongoing activity from the tile, if the tile is present in the user’s tile carousel.
- Show Time – Display the time of day clearly at the top of the app home screen and any ongoing activity screens. We recommend that you display the time of day at the top of all activities except dialogs and confirmation screens.
In other wearable news, Google also introduced fall detection for the Pixel Watch by way of a software update. The feature will allow the Pixel Watch to know when a user takes a hard fall, allowing the user to immediately contact emergency services, or doing it automatically in case the user is unable to. The watch’s built-in motion sensors and algorithms can monitor sudden impact, including a user’s response and instinctive reactions to falling.