Develop for different screen sizes

Your app should work well on Wear OS devices of all sizes, taking advantage of additional space where available, and still look great on smaller screens too. This guide provides recommendations for achieving this user experience.

To learn more about the design principles for adaptive layouts, read the design guidance.

Build responsive layouts using Horologist

Layouts should have percentage-based margins. Because Compose works by default in absolute values instead, use components from the Horologist Library, which has the following features:

  • Horizontal margins are set correctly based on a percent of the device screen size.
  • Top and bottom spacing are set correctly. This presents particular challenges as the recommended top and bottom spacing can depend on the components being used. For example, a Chip should have a different spacing to a Text component when used in a list.
  • TimeText margins are set correctly.

The following code snippet uses Horologist's version of the ScalingLazyColumn layout to create content that looks great on a variety of Wear OS screen sizes:

val columnState = rememberResponsiveColumnState(
    contentPadding = ScalingLazyColumnDefaults.padding(
        first = ScalingLazyColumnDefaults.ItemType.Text,
        last = ScalingLazyColumnDefaults.ItemType.SingleButton
ScreenScaffold(scrollState = columnState) {
        columnState = columnState
    ) {
        item {
            ResponsiveListHeader(contentPadding = firstItemPadding()) {
                Text(text = "Header")
        // ... other items
        item {
                imageVector = Icons.Default.Build,
                contentDescription = "Example Button",
                onClick = { }

This example also demonstrates ScreenScaffold and AppScaffold. These coordinate between the App and individual screens (navigation routes) to ensure the correct scrolling behavior and TimeText positioning.

For the top and bottom padding, also note the following:

  • The specification of the first and last ItemType, to determine the correct padding.
  • The use of ResponsiveListHeader for the first item in the list, because Text headers shouldn't have padding.

Full specifications can be found in the Figma design kits. For more details and examples, see:

  • The Horologist library - provides components to help build optimized and differentiated apps for Wear OS.
  • The ComposeStarter sample - an example showing the principles outlined in this guide.
  • The JetCaster sample - a more complex example of building an app to work with different screen sizes, using the Horologist library.

Use scrolling layouts in your app

Use a scrolling layout, as shown earlier on this page, as the default choice when implementing your screens. This lets users reach your app's components regardless of display preferences or Wear OS device screen size.

The effect of different device size and font-scaling

The effect of different device sizes and font-scaling.


Dialogs should also be scrollable, unless there is a very good reason not to. The ResponsiveDialog component, provided by Horologist, adds the following:

  • Scrolling by default.
  • Correct percentage-based margins.
  • Buttons that adjust their width where space allows, to provide increased tap-targets.
Adaptive dialog behavior in Horologist

Responsive dialogs, providing scrolling by default and buttons that adapt to available space.

Custom screens might require non-scrolling layouts

Some screens may still be suited to non-scrolling layouts. Several examples include the main player screen in a media app and the workout screen in a fitness app.

In these cases, look at the canonical guidance provided in the Figma design kits, and implement a design that is responsive to the size of the screen, using the correct margins.

Provide differentiated experiences through breakpoints

With larger displays, you can introduce additional content and features. To implement this sort of differentiated experience, use screen size breakpoints, showing a different layout when the screen size exceeds 225 dp:


fun isLargeDisplay() = LocalConfiguration.current.screenWidthDp >= LARGE_DISPLAY_BREAKPOINT

// ... use in your Composables:
if (isLargeDisplay()) {
    // Show additional content.
} else {
    // Show content only for smaller displays.

The design guidance illustrates more of these opportunities.

Test combinations of screen and font sizes using previews

Compose previews help you develop for a variety of Wear OS screen sizes. Use both the devices and font-scaling preview definitions to see the following:

  • How your screens look at the extremes of sizing, for example, largest font paired with smallest screen.
  • How your differentiated experience behaves across breakpoints.

Ensure you implement previews using WearPreviewDevices and WearPreviewFontScales for all the screens in your app.

fun ListScreenPreview() {

Screenshot testing

Beyond preview testing, screenshot testing lets you test against a range of existing hardware sizes. This is particularly useful where those devices might not be immediately available to you, and the issue may not present itself on other screen sizes.

Screenshot testing also helps you identify regressions at specific locations in your codebase.

Our samples use Roborazzi for screenshot testing:

  1. Configure your project and app build.gradle files to use Roborazzi.
  2. Create a screenshot test for each screen you have in your app. For example, in the ComposeStarter sample, a test for the GreetingScreen is implemented as seen in GreetingScreenTest:
class GreetingScreenTest(override val device: WearDevice) : WearScreenshotTest() {
    override val tolerance = 0.02f

    fun greetingScreenTest() = runTest {
            timeText = { ResponsiveTimeText(timeSource = FixedTimeSource) }
        ) {
            GreetingScreen(greetingName = "screenshot", onShowList = {})

    companion object {
        fun devices() = WearDevice.entries

Some important points to note:

  • FixedTimeSource lets you generate screenshots where the TimeText does not vary and inadvertently cause tests to fail.
  • WearDevice.entries contains definitions for most popular Wear OS devices so that the tests are run on a representative range of screen sizes.

Generate golden images

To generate images for your screens, run the following command in a terminal:

./gradlew recordRoborazziDebug

Verify images

To verify changes against existing images, run the following command in a terminal:

./gradlew verifyRoborazziDebug

For a full example of screenshot testing, see the ComposeStarter sample.