With Wear OS, a user can visit the Play Store on a watch and download a Wear app directly to the watch. Additionally, a user can install an app directly onto their watch using the web-based Play Store.
Plan for the Play Store
To make your app appear in the on-watch Play Store, upload the watch APK in the Play Console just as you would any other APK. If you have only a watch APK and no phone APK, no other steps are required.
If you have a phone APK in addition to a watch APK, you must use the Multi-APK delivery method.
Distribution to Wear watches
On devices running Wear OS, when a user installs a phone app that has an associated watch app, the user gets a watch notification about the available watch app. Tapping the notification opens the watch Play Store, giving the user the option to install the watch app.
When you upload a watch APK using the Play Console, you can update your Wear APK independently from the phone APK. Your users will then receive updates using the watch Play Store. When you push an update to Play Console, the app automatically gets updated unless the user disabled auto-updates in the on-watch Play Store settings. Users can also update the apps manually in the Play Store.
Specify a version code
A watch APK's version code scheme can be independent from that of a phone APK. Its version code must also be unique.
It currently isn't possible to create a single APK that works on both a phone and watch.
If your Wear APK and companion APK share code and require coordinated releases, you should reserve the last two digits of the version code for APK variants. An example of an APK variant is CPU architecture. For an example, see, Multiple APK support.
Here is a suggested version code scheme:
- Set the first two digits of the version code to the
targetSdkVersion, such as 28.
- Set the next three digits to the product version, such as 152 for a product version of 1.5.2.
- Set the next two digits to build or release number, such as 01.
- Reserve the last two digits for a multi-APK variant, such as 00.
If the example values (28, 152, 01, and 00) in this suggested version code scheme are used, the version code for the example APK variant would be 251520100.
Also see Set application version information.
Set up targeting for a watch
In your Android manifest file, you must set the
don't set the
required attribute to
false. Creating a single APK for
Wear and non-Wear devices isn't supported at this time.
Thus, if an APK has the setting shown in the following sample, Google Play provides the APK to watches only:
<manifest package="com.example.standalone" xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"> <uses-feature android:name="android.hardware.type.watch"/> ... </manifest>
android.hardware.type.watch setting in the previous code sample
with other criteria, such as SDK version, screen resolution, and
CPU architecture. This way, different Wear APKs can target different hardware
Specify an app's standalone setting
Wear requires a
meta-data element in the Android manifest file of watch apps,
as a child of the
<application> element. The name of
meta-data element is
com.google.android.wearable.standalone and the value must be
false. The element indicates
whether your watch app is a standalone app and if the watch app is usable without phone
(its core functions including authentication doesn't require another device).
See Standalone versus non-standalone Wear OS apps on how to declare standalone setting and additional guidance for watch apps categorization.
Even if the value is
false, the watch
app can be installed before the phone app is installed.
If your Wear app has an accompanying phone app, use the same package name for your Wear app and that phone app.
Note: We encourage developers to create a standalone app that can be enhanced with a mobile app. For an example of an app that can add extra features, see this sample app on GitHub.
Use the Play Console
You can use the Play Console to upload a standalone Wear APK to an app listing.
Upload and publish your APK
- In the Play Console, go to Setup and click to open up more options.
- Go to Advanced Settings, select the Release types tab and click Add release type.
- Click Wear OS.
Upload a screenshot of your Wear OS app and mention Wear OS in your app's Google Play Store listing. See Distribute to Wear OS for more information.
Top reasons Wear OS apps are rejected from the Play Store
Review the following list to reduce the likelihood of your app being rejected from the Play Store. In addition, review the Wear OS app quality page to make sure your app meets those guidelines.
Doesn't mention "Wear OS" in the store listing
Developers are required to mention "Wear OS" in the Wear/Watch app's store listing.
Basic functionality is broken
This is a broad category, but apps can be rejected when they aren't functioning properly. Make sure you thoroughly test your app on the emulator and a physical device.
In addition, make sure your app screenshots reflect what the actual app looks like. If the screenshots aren't accurate, the app is considered not working as advertised and will be rejected.
No Wear screenshot
Apps are required to include a Wear screenshot. The process is similar to mobile and is easy to do from Android Studio. In addition, we offer several Wear skins for your screenshots.
Not formatted for round displays
Be sure to specify in the Play Store description if your app doesn't support round displays. Otherwise, if an app's layout doesn't render correctly on a round display, it will be rejected.
Make sure you test your app on a round device or emulator to make sure the same layouts render correctly. Use the Wear OS layouts included in the Layout Inspector in Android Studio. For more information, see Open the Layout Inspector.