With a “lead smartwatch” coming this fall and rumors of a Google-made Pixel wearable, Wear OS has seen a flurry of activity in recent weeks. Google today announced a new initiative aimed at improving Wear app quality by instituting a Play Store review process.

The Wear app review process was introduced with Android Wear 2.0, but has remained optional. Developers now have to pass this review if they want “apps to be listed on the Wear OS by Google version of the Google Play Store.” In making it mandatory, Google hopes to raise app quality and listing presentation.

This “lightweight app review process” involves eight criteria grouped under “functionality,” as well as “visual design and user interaction.”

We hope this lightweight app review process will improve the quality of Wear app experiences across the wide range of devices available to your users. In addition, since screenshots are required for the Wear app review, this will improve the discovery and presentation of your Wear apps in the Google Play Store.

In a blog post, Google highlights common issues like not supporting different screen types, including round and square ones, as well as displays that have chins. Additionally, developers must include at least one Wear OS app screenshot in the listing.

New Wear apps will be subjected to these guidelines on October 1, 2018, while existing Wear apps will have until March 4, 2019. If the Wear OS component fails review, the mobile app update will not be blocked.

Meanwhile, Google advises that Wear apps still in the development stage use manual deployment or testing through the Google Play console.

Please note that the open test and closed test channels will be subject to Wear app review to help front-load the quality assurance process and to avoid leaving reviews to the last minute.

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Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: abner@9to5g.com