Increase your app's usefulness by extending it to Wear OS by Google wearables

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Wear OS by Google integration allows you to use Google Play and Android features across devices, to create a better user experience and improve user engagement.

Why it works

Wear OS surfaces information and features at useful times so that users don't have to check their wearables constantly. Notifications work straight away on Wear OS — but, by adding actions and enhancements, you can make your app more useful and increase engagement and retention.

Key features

  • Automatic notification sync, enabling users to stay up to date even when they don't have easy access to their phones.
  • Full support from the Android SDK, offering activities, services, sensors, and much more for custom wearable experiences.
  • Watch-only apps that users can discover without a phone. Wear OS apps can access the internet directly over Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or cellular connections, without relying on the data layer APIs. So, you can continue to offer full functionality even if the paired phone is out of range or turned off.
  • Include useful information on the watch face. Use the complications data provider to deliver users useful information from your app directly to the watch face.
  • Notifications layout optimized for quick and responsive messaging.
  • Easily get the latest data from the Google Fit platform. Simply register a PendingIntent to be notified of changes in the fitness data store, so your app doesn't have to keep querying for changes to weight, nutrition, and other data.
  • Voice Actions, such as "Ok Google, take a note", enable hands- free experiences for your users.

Best practices

  • Use the navigation drawer to let users access app views or context-specific actions. You can also use a single page drawer to further simplify navigation where there are seven items or less that can be easily identified using icons. Finally, use peeking at the top of the action drawer to provide quick access to the primary action.
  • Use multiple app launchers to simplify access to two or three functions. Where your app offers discrete functions—such as tracking and analyzing activity in a fitness app—this approach makes it easier for users to find and launch your app's features.
  • Optimize the notifications experience using the latest Wear OS features. Support expandable notifications with BigTextStyle, add the notification's primary action to the collapsed view, use the MessagingStyle to offer a rich chat app-like experience, remove any Wear 1.x text guiding users to act by swiping horizontally, and offer inline actions.
  • Ensure complications fit the design of the watch face and properly handle their data type. Do this by using the TextRenderer class so text adjusts to complication bounds and the ComplicationDrawable class to set the background color, shape, border, and font options. Also, let users configure or adjust complications from a settings menu. When testing, use the data provider test suite app to feed placeholder data to complications and remember to provide complication data with the ComplicationProviderService.
  • Offer apps that work alone using your wearable's built-in Wi-Fi, GPS, or other connectivity functions. Include the flag in your app's manifest to show it can function without a companion phone. Then use the hardware feature flag so your app becomes searchable and installable on Wear OS devices.
  • Avoid relying on a companion app to sign a user in. Use a web UI accessible from your wearable app for sign-in and authentication.
  • Help users discover the right companion apps for your Wear OS app. If you have to rely on a companion app or a companion app offers extra features, use the CapabilityApi to ensure users get directed to the companion app's Play Store listing. And, remember to mention these features in your Wear OS app's listing.