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28 February 2023

Policy Updates: New Wear OS App Quality Requirements

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Posted by Ishaan Aggarwal, Product Manager

Today we are announcing upcoming policy changes intended to improve the quality of apps for Wear OS and their presentation in the Google Play Store. 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. In addition, updates to the publishing requirements will improve the discovery and presentation of your Wear OS apps in the Google Play Store.

The new requirements will come into effect from August 31, 2023. Until then, we will continue to use the existing policies to review and maintain the quality of Wear OS apps. The overall Wear OS app review process will continue to be mandatory and remains unchanged.

Alongside the above policy changes, all Wear OS apps must target Android 11 (API level 30). Apps that target lower levels will stop being discoverable to all Google Play users whose devices run Android OS versions newer than the app’s target API level from August 31, 2023. This is to ensure that the app is built to meet the safety and quality standard that users expect from newer Wear OS versions.

The following list highlights examples of upcoming quality changes. See a comprehensive list of review criteria here:

  • Black Background – Use a black background for all apps and tiles.
images of watch faces side by side showing Do: Use black Background on the left and Don't use any other color for background on right

  • Ongoing Activity – When a user has an ongoing activity, you must do the following:
    • Show the ongoing activity indicator on the watch face.
    • Update recent apps with the appropriate app launcher chip for the ongoing activity.
    • Reference the ongoing activity from the tile, if the tile is present in the user’s tile carousel.

    Images of two watch faces displaying ongoing activity indicator at the bottom of the watch face on the left and Ongoing activity on an app launcher chip in recent apps on the right

  • Show Time – Display the time of day clearly at the top of the app home screen and any ongoing activity screens. We recommend that you display the time of day at the top of all activities except dialogs and confirmation screens.
    Images of two watch faces with showing time display at the top of the app on the left and Don’t display the time in a dialog, confirmation screen, or picker on the right

These quality updates span visual experience, functionality, performance, and Google Play listings; they are designed to help you provide a consistent, intuitive and enjoyable experience for Wear OS users. With careful consideration of app design, optimal functional behavior, and Google Play experiences, we are aiming to improve app quality and discoverability of quality apps across the Wear OS ecosystem.

As you design and develop, keep in mind the following recommendations to ensure a modern, successful, and discoverable app:

  • Build a modern app that targets API Level 30.
  • Test your app on devices running Wear OS 3 and above to make sure it works well on the latest Wear OS versions.
  • Consider the new Wear OS quality requirements early when designing and developing your app to create quality experience.

Thank you for your continued support of Wear OS by Google. We look forward to seeing what you create.