Wear OS Third Party TilesSource: Google

What you need to know

  • Third-party developer support is opening up for Tiles on Wear OS.
  • Google's Jetpack Tiles library is currently in alpha, enabling support for custom Tiles.
  • Tiles was released on Wear OS in 2019 but only supported apps from Google and smartwatch OEMs.

App support for Wear OS has not been the best, but Google is taking steps to improve Wear OS's overall functionality in an attempt to lure developers back to the platform. In 2019 it introduced Tiles to the platform, giving owners of the best Wear OS watches quick access to glanceable app information such as weather or workout progress. Unfortunately, the feature was limited to first-party applications from Google or smartwatch OEMs, but after some changes were spotted last month that might address this limitation, custom Tiles are finally supported.

Wear OS Custom TilesSource: Google

Google has announced that its Jetpack library for Tiles is now in alpha, meaning developers can now build custom Tiles for their Wear OS apps. This opens a world of possibilities for the platform as Tiles are beneficial for viewing information or even accessing quick toggles for certain app functions. Giving developers the ability to create their own Tiles can potentially bring greater overall functionality to smartwatches like the Fossil Gen LTE.

Tiles can be designed for many use cases, like tracking the user's daily activity progress, quick-starting a workout, starting a recently played song, or sending a message to a favorite contact. While apps can be immersive, Tiles are fast-loading and focus on the user's immediate needs. If the user would like more information, Tiles can be tapped to open a related app on the watch or phone for a deeper experience.

Giving developers more tools to make the best Wear OS apps more immersive signals a step in the right direction for the platform that has had so many missteps. Hopefully, this effort can help bring more developers to the platform.