New code in Android 14 shows that Google is preparing for an upcoming version of Wear OS with the fun dynamic color customization made popular by Pixel and Material You.

About APK Insight: In this “APK Insight” post, we’ve decompiled the latest version of an application that Google uploaded to the Play Store. When we decompile these files (called APKs, in the case of Android apps), we’re able to see various lines of code within that hint at possible future features. Keep in mind that Google may or may not ever ship these features, and our interpretation of what they are may be imperfect. We’ll try to enable those that are closer to being finished, however, to show you how they’ll look in the case that they do ship. With that in mind, read on.

With the formal announcement of Android 12 for Pixel phones, Google debuted its third generation of Material Design, dubbed Material You. One of the signature traits of Material You is that it’s designed to be adaptable to almost any color palette, and in the case of Android 12+, your “dynamic color” scheme is generated based on the colors of your wallpaper.

Of course, Material You and its dynamic colors aren’t just for Android phones and tablets, as proven by ChromeOS preparing its own colorful redesign. In the code for Android 14, we’ve seen signs that Google is preparing support for dynamic colors on Wear OS watches. The evidence comes from a list of wearables-related settings present in Android, which has gained a new option called “DYNAMIC_COLOR_THEME_ENABLED.”

Today, Wear OS 3 already takes quite a bit of design influence from Material You, between system UI design and individual apps. However, Google’s platform for wearables is currently based on Android 11, meaning it doesn’t have built-in support for changing dynamic colors, as this didn’t arrive for Pixels until Android 12, while other devices picked it up with Android 12L.

That being the case, we believe it’s likely that this dynamic color support will arrive as part of a future update to Wear OS. Our team has previously seen signs that Google was working on a version of Wear OS based on Android 13, but it’s also possible that wearables could skip ahead to Android 14.

It’s not clear at this point how Material You’s dynamic colors would work on a Wear OS device. In an effort to conserve battery life, some device makers like Google choose to use black as a primary color, which may not yield an exciting color scheme.

One possibility is that watch faces could inform the Wear OS system of what colors to use for a Material You theme, such as how most Pixel Watch faces allow you to customize and recolor various parts. Another idea would be to simply match the dynamic color scheme of your paired Android phone, assuming it supports theming.

How would you want dynamic colors to work on Wear OS watches? What would you want to see recolored? Let us know in the comments.

Dylan Roussel contributed to this article.

Thanks to JEB Decompiler, from which some APK Insight teardowns benefit.

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About the Author

Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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