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Google seeks to raise the bar on its Wear OS 3 – also sets a timeline

Barely a month-and-a-half after announcing that a new unified smartwatch platform called the Wear OS 3.0 was arriving, Google has taken steps to ensure that apps that running on its  operating system provides a user experience that customers can rave about. The Fossil Gen 6 smartwatch could be the first to run the new software. 

Of course, one isn't sure what could be the experience once more users get on to the new OS in the months ahead. What Google has done though is to ensure that it covered the bases by introducing updated app quality guidelinesfor the Wear OS 3.

While Google has listed out a bunch of smartwatches eligible for the upgrade some time in the second half of 2022, experts have warned that it may not be a good idea to do so. Besides a full factory reset, the upgrade process could remove settings and data on the watches and needs to be backed up. 

Google might have considered the new guidelines to assure smartwatch users who have earlier versions of their OS. It probably recognises that watch owners may not want to go through the trouble of upgrading the OS, which may be the reason why it is providing an option to decline the update but receive security patches. 

Coming to the app quality guidelines prescribed by Google on its developer forum, the page highlights issues involving basic compatibility for notifications including the Messaging Style as well as the direct responses to them. 

The guidelines also emphasize the need for “Better: Full support for Wear OS” via steps such as ensuring that apps are properly formatted to square and round display types with text that is large and “glanceable”. Further, the guidelines speak about functionality mandate whereby a watch APK would run directly on the Wear OS device and can be discovered in the Wear OS Play Store with proper screenshots.

It also highlights that the app must mention Wear OS in its Google Play Store listing and contain at least one screenshot that depicts the Wear OS app experience.  

Starting October 13, Wear OS apps will need to meet these notification, layout, and functionality quality requirements “to be published on Google Play.” Watch faces also have until that date to comply, mostly with the screenshot/listing guidelines. Google encourages testing on Wear OS 3 watches ahead of time,” Google says in its note to the developers. 

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