Google releases Android P developer preview for Wear OS

About two weeks after Google rebranded Android Wear as Wear OS, the company is now releasing the first Android P developer preview for its smartwatch platform. This first preview is intended to be used exclusively by developers and not for regular daily use, but it does give us a glimpse of what Google's cooking up.

First off, one of the biggest user-facing changes is a slightly tweaked user interface. Menus and gestures will remain the same, but Google's adopting a darker background for menus and the notification panel. Some watches were updated with this new look with Wear OS 2.8 back in January, and going forward with Android P, this will be the default look for all devices.

To improve battery life, Android P is introducing a couple big changes to Wear OS. Wi-Fi will automatically turn off when your watch is connected to your phone via Bluetooth and apps will no longer be able to run in the background unless your watch is charging. Watch faces and complications will be the only exception to this rule, and Google notes that both of these features will be rolled out to Wear OS "gradually."

This is the very first developer preview, and as such, not ready for daily use.

In another attempt to extend the time between charges, Android P will also automatically disable Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and any cellular radios when your watch has been off your wrist for "an extended period of time."

Last but not least, Google also notes that "To improve app compatibility, Android P has started the process of restricting access to non-SDK methods and fields."

There's currently no timeline for Android P's public launch for Wear OS, but if it lines up with Android P for phones and tablets, we should see it launch at some point in August. If you're a developer or someone that doesn't mind running buggy software, the Android P preview is available now for the Bluetooth versions of the Huawei Watch 2 and Huawei Watch 2 Classic.

Wear OS by Google officially replaces Android Wear

Joe Maring

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.