Wear OS 4 is based on Android 13 (API level 33), which is several versions higher than the version on which Wear OS 3 is based, Android 11 (API level 30). So when you prepare your Wear OS app for use on Wear OS 4, you need to handle the system behavior changes that take effect for all apps in Android 12 and Android 13.
You can further improve your app's compatibility with this version of Wear OS by targeting Android 13 (API level 33).
Changes to permissions
The following changes related to permissions are most likely to affect your Wear OS app on a device that runs Wear OS 4.
When users install your app on a device that runs Wear OS 4, your app's
notifications are off by default. Before you post a local notification or launch
an ongoing activity, check whether your app is allowed to post notifications by
areNotificationsEnabled(). If this method returns
app can show notifications. If your app doesn't have the proper permission,
these notifications silently fail without any runtime exceptions being thrown.
When you request the
POST_NOTIFICATIONS permission in your app, users
see the system permissions dialog that appears in figure 1.
Background body sensors permission
On a device that runs Wear OS 4, users must grant your app permission to get information from common body sensors, such as heart rate, in the background.
Learn more in the guide to requesting background access to body sensor data.
Approximate location permission
On a device that runs Wear OS 4, users can request that your app retrieve only
approximate location information, even when your app requests the
ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION runtime permission.
Check that your app can still fulfill its key use cases, such as showing a running route, if the user grants only approximate location. In particular, when using Health Services on Wear OS, take position errors into account.
Learn more about how the user can grant only approximate location.
Changes to app components and navigation
The following changes related to app components and navigation are most likely to affect your Wear OS app on a device that runs Wear OS 4.
Intent filters block non-matching intents
When your app sends an intent to an exported component of another app that
targets Android 13 or higher, that intent is delivered if and only if it matches
<intent-filter> element in the receiving app.
Learn how to match intents to other apps' intent filters.
Root launcher activity behavior
If the user navigates away from this sort of launcher activity to the previous screen, the system doesn't finish the launcher activity. Instead, it places the launcher activity in the background.
Learn more about this change to root launcher activities and the activity lifecycle.
App links verification
The system makes several changes to how Android App Links are verified. In particular, the system enforces a stricter intent filter syntax for demonstrating that URLs in a particular domain should open content directly in your app. These changes improve the reliability of the app-linking experience, which provides more control to app developers and end users.
To test the reliability of your declarations, manually invoke domain verification.
System alert window UI is removed
Wear OS 4 removes the system UI for granting the
permission. This UI is available on some devices that run Wear OS 3 and lower.
If you use
ACTION_MANAGE_OVERLAY_PERMISSION to send users to a settings
page, where they could display your app over other apps, update your app's
logic. For example, if you rely on system alert windows to show important
messages, use notifications instead.
Changes to power and data management
The following changes related to power and data management are most likely to affect your Wear OS app on a device that runs Wear OS 4.
Restricted App Standby Bucket
The system places your app in the "restricted" App Standby Bucket if it's not used for an extended period of time, or if it invokes an excessive number of broadcasts and bindings.
If the user doesn't interact with your app for a few months, the system places your app in a hibernation state.
Backup & Restore
Starting in Wear OS 4, if a specific Wear OS device supports cloud backup, users can back up their data to the cloud to transfer data off that device, and they can restore data from the cloud to transfer data onto a new Wear OS device.