Google aims for quality Wear OS 3 apps with updated guidelines

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Review
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Review (Image credit: Daniel Bader / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google has released updated guidelines for Wear OS 3 apps.
  • The new guidelines are to ensure quality apps for the platform and better representation on the Play Store.
  • Developers have until October 13 to comply with the quality updates.

Wear OS 3 has arrived thanks to the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, and Google wants to make sure the app experience lives up to the hype. Thus, the company has released new app guidelines for Wear OS developers to ensure just that.

The updated guidelines introduce different levels of support for Wear OS, from basic compatibility to "better" and "best."

Basic compatibility focuses on notification support, particularly with MessagingStyle conversations and direct reply action. This is mainly for apps that can talk to the best Wear OS watches without an actual wearable app.

Full Wear OS compatibility refers to native wearable apps that meet certain criteria. This includes support for round or square displays, readable text with a minimum font size of 12sp, and Play Store discoverability. The guidelines also require the Play Store description to mention Wear OS and provide at least one screenshot of the wearable app. Google has provided specific guidelines for these screenshots:

Wear OS App Guidelines Listing

Source: Google (Image credit: Source: Google)

Source: Google

For the "best" Wear OS compatibility, the app must function independently "without needing to install a phone companion app," which includes the sign-in and authentication process.

Google requires that apps comply with these requirements by October 13 and suggests testing their apps on a Wear OS 3 device. If they do not meet the requirements, the Play Store team will notify the developer.

While many of these requirements sound fairly essential for Wear OS functionality, the updated guidelines show that Google is serious about making Wear OS a platform for quality apps. The focus on Play Store representation also follows the recently announced changes coming to Play Store apps, which will soon display reviews only related to the device they're being viewed on.

Derrek Lee
Managing Editor

Derrek is the managing editor of Android Central, helping to guide the site's editorial content and direction to reach and resonate with readers, old and new, who are just as passionate about tech as we are. He's been obsessed with mobile technology since he was 12, when he discovered the Nokia N90, and his love of flip phones and new form factors continues to this day. As a fitness enthusiast, he has always been curious about the intersection of tech and fitness. When he's not working, he's probably working out.