Google is updating app guidelines for smartwatches just in time for Wear OS 3
Google is recommitting itself to making Wear OS better than it’s ever been, all powered by a new partnership with Samsung. Of course, without some quality third-party apps and services, it doesn’t matter how capable the operating system is — it’s doomed to fail from the start. With that in mind, Google has released some new quality requirements for apps on Wear OS 3.
These guidelines offer three tiers for applications: “Basic,” “Better,” and “Best.” Basic compatibility now features new regulations regarding notifications, requiring stacks and direct reply actions for conversations. If you’re looking to reach “Better” capability, which Google calls “full support for Wear OS,” you’ll need to ensure your app follows basic layout structures for both square and round displays, along with a specific watch APK that runs on the watch itself and is found directly in the on-watch Play Store.
Finally, if you’re looking to reach “Best” status — or as Google describes it, “a differentiated experience,” it needs to be fully functional without a phone companion app, as well as tested and paired with both iOS and Android devices.
There are also some new rules regarding how screenshots are displayed on the Play Store, which requires borders and hardware to be removed from photos altogether.
Developers will have until October 13th to ensure their apps and watch faces meet these new guidelines to stay published on the Play Store. Google’s blog post offers some reassurance to anyone who might feel stressed about their app, noting that “many developers are already meeting these requirements and won’t need to make many of these changes when migrating to Wear OS 3.0.” Still, if you have an app on the Play Store, it’s worth looking over the complete list of details, just to make sure no changes are necessary for your listing.