Better Wear OS 3 apps are on the way as Google sets new app quality requirements

Google Pixel Watch hazel/gold colorway with the Pacific watch face
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google is setting new requirements for all Wear OS apps.
  • By August 31, 2023, Wear OS apps must target the latest version and be updated with new Wear OS 3 requirements.
  • Google lists the new requirements for apps on Wear OS 3, such as a black background, activity indicators, and more.

Wear OS 3 has been around for a little while now, and now that more smartwatches have received the latest version of Google's wearable OS, the company is setting some new ground rules for developers.

Google announced in a blog post on Tuesday that new requirements for Wear OS apps will go into effect on August 31, 2023. By that date, developers will have to update their apps to target Android 11 (API Level 30), which is the version Wear OS 3 is based on.

"We are introducing these changes to ensure app users get a basic consistent experience across all apps in accordance with our latest Wear OS design and development principles," writes Google product manager Ishaan Aggarwal. "In addition, updates to the publishing requirements will improve the discovery and presentation of your Wear OS apps in the Google Play Store."

The blog post lists some of the requirements that apps will have to meet by the August 31 deadline. These include UI changes that will help apps better fit with the design language of Wear OS 3. This includes a black background and displaying the time above apps, except during certain dialogues or confirmation screens.

Apps must also provide activity indicators at the bottom of the watch face, within the app launcher, and in the associated app tile. 

The full list of requirements includes other changes to navigation, visual quality, accessibility, and tiles, as well as performance and Google Play listing guidelines.

Apps for Wear OS watches that don't meet the requirements by the August 31 deadline will "stop being discoverable to all Google Play users whose devices run Android OS versions newer than the app's target API level."

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.