Getting started

Material design for Wear OS helps you design engaging app experiences.

Understand use cases

Watches allow users to get information at a glance, such as seeing progress towards health and fitness goals, and to act quickly, like responding to an instant message. Focus on use cases like these when designing apps for smartwatches.

The watch interface presents unique opportunities that are not available on traditional mobile devices, including:

  • Input enabled by a physical body connection (through sensors and motion detection).
  • Quick access to glanceable information and actions, such as complications, notifications, and Tiles.

The watch also comes with limitations:

  • Smaller screen space
  • Lower information density
  • Limited battery life

Consider both the capabilities and limitations of the platform when designing apps for watches. Design experiences where tasks can be accomplished easily using the watch interface, as shown in the following example:

power yoga

Don’t create complex, detailed apps that include items like spreadsheets, as this is difficult to edit and view on a watch.

complex-sheet

Test designs

The majority of Wear OS devices have round displays, which have 22% less UI space than square displays. Round displays also need larger margins for text to be easily readable.

Design for round and square displays

Design for round devices first to make sure your layout works within the smaller size constraints. Designing for round displays makes it easier to adjust your content for square displays.

watch and laptop

Take your designs for a spin

People wearing watches are regularly in motion, whether they are standing, gesturing, or running to catch a bus. Test your designs in situations that involve user movement to make sure the design is usable at a glance.

watch movement

App examples

Material Design for Wear OS helps you design engaging app experiences. The following screenshots show a few illustrated examples of Wear OS apps that follow the principles described in this guide.

Figure 1. An example of a media app.

Figure 2. An example of a task management app.

Figure 3. An example of an instant messaging app.

Figure 4. An example of a stopwatch app.

Figure 5. An example of a dialer app.

Figure 6. An example of a calculator app.