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Distribute to Android Wear

If you've got a great app, Android Wear and Google Play can help you bring it to users. While all apps can send basic notifications to Android Wear devices, you can go much further. Extend your apps to support custom Wear interactions and offer a refined, engaging user experience across all Wear devices. If your apps meet the core app quality guidelines on handsets and provide a high-quality experience for Android Wear devices, Google Play will showcase your apps for easy discovery.

To get started, review this page to learn how to distribute your Wear apps to users through Google Play. Be sure to read Wear app quality for information on the usability and quality standards that your apps should meet. When your app is ready, you can opt-in for designation as an Android Wear app from the Play Console.

How to participate

Google Play lets you make your Wear apps more discoverable for Wear users. You can develop and publish using your existing Play Console account and your current distribution and pricing settings. It's easy to participate — the sections below outline the process.

1. Understand the guidelines and requirements

To prepare for a successful launch on Android Wear, start by reviewing the guidelines for creating great app experiences on Wear. See the Android Wear design guidelines for ideas on extending your app for Wear and details on design and usability.

As you get started designing your Wear experience, make sure to read and understand the quality criteria for Wear apps. Only apps that are usable on Wear will be designated as Wear apps on Google Play — your apps can participate if they meet a set of basic quality criteria. See Wear app quality for details.

2. Develop a great app for Wear

Once you have read the guidelines, the next step is to develop your app. The following sections describe how to start building a great app experience for Wear.

Design first

Android Wear aims to provide users with just the right information at just the right time. Great Android Wear experiences are launched automatically, glanceable, and require zero or low user interaction. Although all apps can send basic notifications to Wear devices without any modification, great apps built for Wear are refined to offer a polished and high-quality experience, work on different screen layouts, and deliver a compelling feature set for users.

As you consider your Wear app, review the developer documentation and usability guidelines and plan on utilizing them to the greatest extent possible. You can design a great notification experience for users with the APIs provided in the SDK and support library. You may also choose to build an app that runs directly on the wearable.

Package your app

If you have an existing app for phones, tablets, and other devices, we recommend that you deliver your watch APK as part of your existing app, using the same package name and store listing. This lets users upgrade to your Wear experience seamlessly and also lets you take advantage of the reviews and ratings you’ve earned in your app for phones and tablets. To learn about packaging your apps, read Packaging and Distributing Wear Apps.

Test on a variety of devices

Throughout design and development, it's important to have suitable devices on which to prototype and test your user experience. It's highly recommended that you acquire one or more Android Wear devices or develop with different emulator configurations and set up your testing environment as early as possible. It’s important that you optimize your design on both square and round layouts.

3. Test for Wear app quality

Your Wear apps should be designed to perform well and look great on Android Wear, and they should offer the best user experience possible. Google Play will showcase selected high-quality Wear apps for easy discovery. Here’s how you can participate and deliver an Android Wear app that users will enjoy:

4. Opt-in to Android Wear and publish

When you've built your release-ready APK and tested to ensure that it meets all of the Wear app quality criteria, upload it to the Play Console. Update your store listing with Wear screenshots and set distribution options as needed. If you aren't familiar with how to prepare for launch on Google Play, see the Launch Checklist.

Before you publish to users, you may opt-in to Android Wear from the Pricing and Distribution section of the Play Console. Opt-in means that you want your app to be made more discoverable to Android Wear users through Google Play, and that your app meets the Wear app quality guidelines. Note that you must upload at least one Wear screenshot before opting in for Wear app quality review.

After you've opted-in and saved changes, you can publish your app as usual. Google Play then submits your app for review against the Wear app quality guidelines and notifies you of the result. See the next section for details on how to track the approval status of your app.

If your app meets the Wear app quality guidelines, Google Play makes it more discoverable to Android Wear users. Your app is also eligible for higher-visibility featuring in app collections and promotions.

Note that opt-in and review do not affect the availability of your app in the Google Play Store — your app is available as soon as you publish.

Here are the steps to opt-in to Android Wear in the Play Console:

  • Make sure your app meets the Wear app quality guidelines.
  • Add Wear screenshots to the app’s store listing.
  • In the All Applications page, click the app you want to opt-in.
  • Under Pricing and Distribution, scroll down to find Android Wear and the opt-in checkbox.
  • Click the checkbox next to Distribute your app on Android Wear.
  • Click Save to save your Pricing and Distribution changes.

Opt-in for Wear: Include your app in Android Wear by opting-in from the Play Console.

5. Track your review and approval

If your app meets the technical and quality criteria for Android Wear, as described above, your app will be made more discoverable for users on Android Wear. If your app doesn’t meet the criteria, you’ll receive a notification email sent to your developer account address, with a summary of the areas that you need to address. When you’ve made the necessary adjustments, you can upload a new version of your app for review.

At any time, you can check the review and approval status of your app in the Play Console, under Android Wear in the app’s Pricing and Distribution page.

There are three approval states:

  • Pending — Your app was sent for review and the review is not yet complete.
  • Approved — Your app was reviewed and approved. The app will be made more discoverable to Android Wear users.
  • Not approved — Your app was reviewed and not approved. Check the notification email for information about why the app was not approved. You can address any issues and opt-in and publish again to initiate another review.

To understand how your apps are evaluated, please see the Wear app quality guidelines.


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