Google Has Updated Their Policy to Promote Standalone Android Wear Apps

Google Has Updated Their Policy to Promote Standalone Android Wear Apps

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With Android Wear 2.0, applications can run standalone on the device and can be installed through the Google Play Store. Past initial setup, a phone is technically no longer needed to use the smartwatch. From Android Wear 1.0 to 1.5, applications were distributed from the phone to the watch, as the watch could not install apps independently. As such, Android Wear applications had to be downloaded on the phone, which contained the Wear APK sent over Bluetooth to the watch.

However, things are now changing. Google is updating their policies, set to go live on the 18th of January 2018, to deny the “Enhanced for Android Wear” badge to any application that packs the Wear APK inside of the phone application, instead of making use of the multi-APK feature of the Google Play developer console. They also will no longer be eligible to be shown in any top charts. Google also announced that this feature will work with Android Wear 1.0+, so developers have no excuse not to implement this change.

The main reason for this development would seem to be iOS users. The curated list of applications for Android smartwatches chosen by Google staff must only contain apps that will work on an Android Wear smartwatch regardless if it is connected to an iOS device or an Android device.

Google also recommend apps which synchronize data to the device (such as fitness apps) have device synchronization as an optional extra, rather than a requirement. This may be Google hinting at further policy changes. That, or they just want the Android Wear platform to be an entirely independent platform from Android alone, able to stand by itself and bring a full smart suite directly to your wrist without relying on the battery life or connectivity of any of your other devices to function correctly.

Source: Android Developers Blog