To improve the experience of using a Wear OS 3 device, Google is introducing a number of watch app quality requirements that will come into effect this August.

Previously, there were only eight watch app/face requirements. Google Play will soon be adding 31 more. Google wants to ensure that apps follow “critical design and interaction patterns to create a consistent, intuitive and enjoyable user experience on Wear OS.”

On the Navigation front, this includes allowing “users to swipe to close from almost all screens,” though fitness activities and maps are exempted. All scrolling content must support the rotating crown, while a scroll bar has to be shown. Ongoing activities must show an indicator at the bottom of the watch face, in the app launcher chip/card, and in Tiles:

Google also wants developers to preserve app state:

  • Preserve user or app-state when leaving the foreground and prevent accidental data loss due to back-navigation and other state changes.
  • When your app is resumed from the launcher or recent app switcher within minutes of last use, then restore the app state as close as possible to its previous state.

In terms of Visual quality, developers must “display the time of day clearly at the top of the app home screen and any ongoing activity screens,” while all apps and Tiles must use a black background. Applications must also sport splash screens.

There’s now a “minimum font size of 12sp for essential text and 10sp for non-essential text,” while apps “must conform to the font size set by the user in System Settings” to improve Accessibility.  

Under Performance and functionality, apps must target Android 11 (API level 30), which Wear OS 3 is based on. There are also requirements related to app stability and Play Store listings.  

These new requirements, including targeting Android 11, will come into effect from August 31, 2023.

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.

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