Posted by Simon Earnshaw, Group Product Manager
We announce our biggest update yet to the Wear platform, featuring new features, APIs, and tools to help developers create beautiful, high-quality wearable experiences. In this blog post, we’ll show you how we’re making it easier to build great apps for Wear, and how you can work with pre-release versions of these APIs and tools to get your app ready for the new platform.
First things first: tools
The first thing you’ll want to do is download and install Android Studio Arctic Fox Beta, which includes a developer preview of the new Wear system image, as well as improved tools for developing and testing Wearable apps without a device:
- Emulator with new Wear system image (preview) – A developer preview of the new Wear system image is now available so you can use and play with the latest platform updates!
- Wear an app to pair the phone – We made it a lot easier to pair Wear emulators to your phone right from Android Studio so you can stay in the IDE to develop, test, and iterate. The new pairing wizard guides you step by step through pairing Wear emulators with physical or virtual phones directly in Android Studio! You can start by going Device dropdown> Wear the pairing wizard for the OS emulator. Note that this is currently paired with the Wear OS 2 companion and a Wear companion for the new version will be available soon. Learn more.
- Virtual heart rate sensor – The emulator now has a virtual heart rate monitor, including support for the heart rate monitor API, which allows you to create and test apps that respond differently to activity levels. Make sure you are running at least Android Emulator v30.4.5 downloaded through the Android Studio SDK Manager.
We also announced a new watch face design tool developed by Samsung. This new tool makes designing watch faces for any device running Wear a breeze, and it will be available soon.
New developer documentation and design guide
In preparation for the new version of Wear, we have completely redesigned our developer page with new API documentation, learning paths, code labs and examples. And as Wear is about to bring a whole new customer experience based on the latest material design, we’ve updated our design guidelines to cover the new design system, UI components, UX patterns and styles. Learn more.
New Jetpack APIs
With the new Jetpack APIs tailored for small (round or square) screens and optimizing the battery life of the Jetpack Tiles API, we’re adding a number of new features to help you create great wear experiences that reduce boilerplate code and write code Works consistently across Wear versions and devices:
- Tiles – Tiles give users quick and predictable access to the information and actions they rely on most. We have now opened Tiles to developers and have already worked with several Early Access partners to add Tiles to their apps. Here are some that are coming soon:
The Tiles API is in alpha and supported on devices running Wear OS 2 and higher, so you can create tiles for all devices in the Wear ecosystem. With the new platform update, tiles are displayed on consumer watches. Learn more
- Change of duties and ongoing activities – The new version of Wear makes it easier for users to switch between apps. With a minimal amount of code, you can use the new Active Activity API so your users can return to your app after navigating away (to start another task like playing music) by tapping an activity indicator icon at the bottom of the Watch face, double tap on the side button or via the Latest Global app launcher section. The API for ongoing activities is now in alpha. Learn more.
- Health services – We also announced today the launch of a health and fitness platform created in partnership with Samsung. This platform offers fitness and health data generated by sensors, context-sensitive algorithms and all-day health monitoring. You can use the APIs to build high quality, high performing fitness and health experiences for wearables with an easier development experience. The platform does all of the work of managing your hardware and sensors for you, removing one of the biggest management challenges yourself – you need to know when to stop so the battery doesn’t drain. The Alpha of this Health Services Platform is available today. Learn more.
- Other new APIs – We released several other new APIs in Jetpack to make portable app development easier, including support for curved text, inputs, watch faces, complications, and remote interactions. You can find more information about these APIs here.
Changes in the Google Play Store
We know that user engagement and app discovery is an important part of growing your business. So, big updates to Google Play will soon make it a lot easier for users to discover great app experiences on the watch, including searching to easily find apps. You can find app recommendations under the Wear category. Install apps on the watch directly from the phone.
We look forward to the next generation of wear. For more information on developing apps for smartwatches, visit d.android.com/wear. We are excited to see what you are building!