Distribute to Wear OS by Google
If you've got a great app, Wear OS by Google and Google Play can help you bring it to users. While Android apps can send basic notifications to Wear OS by Google devices, you can go much further. Extend your apps to support custom Wear OS interactions and offer a refined, engaging user experience across all Wear OS by Google devices. If your apps meet the core app quality guidelines on Android devices and provide a high-quality experience for Wear OS by Google devices, your apps are surfaced on Google Play for easy discovery.
To get started, review this page to learn how to distribute your Wear OS apps to users through Google Play. Be sure to read Wear OS 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 a Wear OS app from the Play Console.
How to participate
Google Play lets you make your Wear OS apps discoverable for wearable 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 Wear OS by Google, start by reviewing the guidelines for creating great app experiences on Wear. See the Wear OS developer design guidelines for ideas on extending your app for Wear OS and details on design and usability.
As you get started designing your Wear OS experience, make sure to read and understand the quality criteria for Wear OS apps. Only apps that are usable on Wear OS will be designated as Wear OS apps on Google Play — your apps can participate if they meet a set of basic quality criteria. See Wear OS app quality for details.
2. Develop a great app for Wear OS
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.
Wear OS aims to provide users with just the right information at just the right time. Great Wear OS experiences are glanceable and require zero or minimal user interaction. All Android apps can send basic notifications to Wear OS wearables without any modification. However, great apps built for Wear OS are refined to offer a polished and high-quality experience, work on different screen layouts, work for users with watches paired to iPhones, and deliver a compelling feature set for users.
As you consider your Wear OS app, review the developer documentation and usability guidelines and plan on using these 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 and other devices, we recommend that you deliver your watch app using the same package name and store listing. This lets users upgrade to your Wear OS experience seamlessly and also lets you take advantage of the reviews and ratings you've earned in your app for phones. In most cases, you should use a separate APK for your Wear OS app to avoid unnecessarily increasing the size of your Android devices APK. This is also necessary to bring your app to Wear OS users with iPhones. To learn about packaging your apps, read Packaging and Distributing Wear OS 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 Wear OS 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 OS app quality
Your Wear OS apps should be designed to perform well and look great on Wear OS devices, and they should offer the best user experience possible. Google Play will showcase selected high-quality Wear OS apps for easy discovery, with top app charts and curated featured collections. Here's how you can participate and deliver a Wear OS app that users will enjoy:
- Test your apps against the core app quality guidelines.
- Meet the Wear OS app quality guidelines:
- Meet eligibility for featured collections: To be eligible for selection for featured collections, make sure your Wear OS app functions as a standalone app, that is independent from a phone, tablet, or similar device. Your app will also need to work on watches that are paired with either iOS and Android devices.
4. Opt-in to Wear OS and publish
When you've built your release-ready app and tested to ensure that it meets all of the Wear OS app quality criteria, upload it to the Play Console. Update your store listing with Wear OS 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 must opt-in to Wear OS from the Pricing and Distribution section of the Play Console. Note that by 4 March 2019 all your Wear OS apps will need to be opted in. Opt-in means that you want your app to be made discoverable to Wear OS users through Google Play, and that your app meets the Wear OS app quality guidelines. Note that you must upload at least one Wear OS screenshot before opting in for Wear OS 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 OS 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 OS app quality guidelines, Google Play makes it discoverable to Wear OS users. Your app is also eligible for higher-visibility featuring in app collections and promotions.
Here are the steps to opt-in to Wear OS in the Play Console:
- Make sure your app meets the Wear OS app quality guidelines.
- Add Wear OS 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 Wear OS and the opt-in checkbox.
- Click the checkbox next to Distribute your app on Wear OS.
- Click Save to save your Pricing and Distribution changes.
5. Track your review and approval
If your app meets the technical and quality criteria for Wear OS, as described above, your app will be made discoverable for users on Wear OS wearables. 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 Wear OS 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 discoverable to Wear OS 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 OS app quality guidelines.