18 May 2016

Android Wear 2.0 Developer Preview

Posted by David Singleton, VP of Engineering

Today at Google I/O, we announced the most significant Android Wear update since its launch two years ago: Android Wear 2.0. Based on what we’ve learned from users and developers, we're evolving the platform to improve key experiences on the watch, including watch faces, messaging, and fitness.

Android Wear 2.0 will be available to users this fall. We’re making a Developer Preview available today and plan to release additional updates throughout the summer, so please send us your feedback early and often. Also, please keep in mind that this preview is a work in progress, and is not yet intended for daily use.

What’s new?

  • Standalone apps: Your Android Wear app can now access the internet directly over Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or cellular, without relying on the Data Layer APIs. This means your app can continue to offer full functionality even if the paired phone is far away or turned off. Removing the requirement to use the Data Layer APIs also enables your app to offer the same functionality regardless of whether the watch is paired with an Android or iPhone. In addition, your app can receive push messages via Google Cloud Messaging and access AccountManager directly on the watch.
  • New system UI: We’ve made a number of UI changes that will help users interact with your app more easily. A new notification design and app launcher make it easier to take action on notifications and launch your app, and a new watch face picker makes switching watch faces fast and fun. The system UI also adopts a dark color palette and makes better use of round displays. We recommend you test your existing Android Wear app and notifications with the new UI.
  • Material design for wearables: The new Material Design for Wearables guide will help you make your app’s interface more consistent, intuitive, and beautiful. The new navigation drawer and action drawer components in the Wearable support library make it easy to align your app with the system UI’s new vertical layout. We’ve also provided guidance on how to adopt the dark color palette.
  • Complications API: Complications are bite-sized pieces of information displayed to users directly on the watch face. Android Wear now has a system-wide framework to enable any app to show data on any watch face that implements the API. As an app developer, you can choose to publish your data to a wide variety of watch faces and make it easier for users to launch your app from the watch face. As a watch face developer, you can rely on data from a rich ecosystem of Wear apps without having to worry about sourcing it yourself.
  • Input methods: Keyboard and handwriting input methods open up new ways to accept text from users on the watch. You can now use these new input methods in your app via RemoteInput and EditText, and notifications that already use RemoteInput for voice replies will automatically support the new input methods. We’ve ported over the full Android input method framework to the watch, so you can even create your own custom input methods if you wish.
  • New MessagingStyle notification: Android Wear 2.0 includes a new notification template with a layout optimized for quick and responsive messaging. This template is also available on phones and tablets using Android N, so creating a great cross-device messaging experience is a breeze.
  • Google Fit platform: Improvements to the Google Fit platform make it easier for your app to use fitness data and detect activity. You can register a PendingIntent to be notified of changes in the fitness data store, so you don’t have to keep querying for changes to weight, nutrition, and other data types. It’s also easier for your app to get a consistent daily step count on Android Wear -- with HistoryApi.readDailyTotal(), a step recording subscription is no longer required. Finally, apps will soon be able to detect (with consent) when the user starts walking, running, or biking.
  • Support for Android N: Your Android Wear app can now take advantage of the latest Android N features such as Data Saver and Java 8 Lambda support. Also, let’s not forget the new emojis!

Get started and give us feedback!

The Android Wear 2.0 Developer Preview includes an updated SDK with tools, and system images for testing on the official Android emulator, the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE, and the Huawei Watch.
To get started, follow these steps:
  1. Take a video tour of the Android Wear 2.0 developer preview
  2. Update to Android Studio v2.1.1 or later
  3. Visit the Android Wear 2.0 Developer Preview site for downloads and documentation
  4. Get the emulator system images through the SDK Manager or download the device system images
  5. Test your app with your supported device or emulator
  6. Give us feedback
We will update this developer preview over the next few months based on your feedback. The sooner we hear from you, the more we can include in the final release, so don't be shy!