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Google’s New Policy Changes Make Big Improvements to the Look of Wear OS 3 Apps

In a blog post, the company has revealed new suggestions aimed at improving the quality of apps for Wear OS and their presentation on the Google Play Store. These guidelines will come into effect on August 31, after the release of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 and potentially Wear OS 4.0, and developers have a limited amount of time to make their apps compliant, or risk being hidden from Play store searches. In addition to requiring compatibility with Android 11 (or higher) to maintain safety and security standards, the new guidelines also include some significant visual changes that users can expect to see in the latter half of this year.

One of the most interesting changes is the mandate for all-black backgrounds on third-party apps, which blends the bezel with the display and may improve battery efficiency.

There will also be clearer ongoing workout tracking, with apps required to show an activity icon and also show an ongoing activity on a Tile (if the app appears in the Tile carousel), as well as live details in the app launcher.

The time will also be displayed in a consistent location across the entire UI, following the example set by the Apple Watch years ago.

Although these changes are not groundbreaking, they do demonstrate Google’s renewed attention to Wear OS, and small tweaks can make a significant difference to the overall user experience. The question now is how quickly third-party developers will update their apps to comply with the new guidelines.

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