When Android Wear first launched, it was unclear whether Google was going to be offering official support for third-party watch faces. This uncertainty definitely didn’t stop developers from just going ahead and making some, but Google has today come out to say that they’re “hard at work” on an official watch face API.
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But not only did Google confirm that the API is coming, but they touched on the fact that making a watch face at the moment takes a “fair bit of tweaking.” This is true, but Google is also apparently asking that developers don’t publish these hacked-together watch faces to the Play Store until they can utilize the stable API. Rather, they’d like that you post your apps via the Alpha or Beta channels in the Play Developer Console.
As for when developers will actually be able to use the API, Piekarski says it’s “coming soon.” But he warns that it most likely won’t be complete until the Android Wear OS is migrated to Android L.
Check out the original post by Wayne Piekarski, a Google Senior Developer Advocate:
With just a few weeks since the unveiling of the Android Wear SDK, we’ve already seen a number of terrific apps optimized for Android Wear. One of the main questions we’ve heard from you is, “will you support third party custom watch faces?” The answer: yes, for sure! Customization has helped Android thrive, and the same will be true for Android Wear. And to make sure that you’re able to create the richest experience possible, we’re hard at work on a custom watch face API.
Custom watch faces are activities running inside another process. However, they have some special considerations due to interactions with the stream and always-on ambient mode–including using a shorter peek card, moving the status indicators for battery and mute, and rendering the faces differently in ambient mode. Right now, without an official API, making a really great watch face currently takes a fair bit of tweaking.
We are working to make this as simple as possible for you so that it’s easy to make good-looking faces that work well across multiple form factors, conserve battery, and display the user’s card stream nicely. Some of these changes won’t be ready until we migrate Android Wear to the Android L release later this year, but don’t fret: they’re coming!
So, where does that leave us today? As we work on finalizing the API, we would suggest not posting your apps publicly to Google Play until there is a stable, published API (we’d suggest using Alpha or Beta channels, available through the Play Developer Console, in the meantime). These changes mentioned above are coming soon and will make it easier for you to create great watch faces, but the existing unpublished API may not be compatible with the next Android Wear release, and no one wants to disrupt the experience for users in the future.