[Update: Coming Soon] Google is preparing to release a Tiles API for Wear OS
In 2019, Google released “Tiles”, a new feature that lets you show small, informative app widget cards on Wear OS smartwatches. Google added Tiles for a handful of things, including Goals, Next event, Forecast, Heart rate, Headlines, and timer, allowing users to easily access important info by swiping left on the watch face. At launch, you could only add 5 Tiles, but with the Wear OS app v2.40, Google raised the limit, letting users add up to 10 Tiles on their smartwatch. Since Tiles was released, smartwatch OEMs like Mobvoi have also built their own Tiles.
However, to this day, Google has never released an official API for Tiles, which would let third-party Wear OS app developers offer their own Tiles. Fed up with the delay, some developers reverse-engineered the internal Tiles API that Google uses in the Wear OS app to create an UnofficialTileAPI. While this has led to several third-party app devs successfully creating Tiles, it’s not recommended to rely on undocumented APIs since they can change at any time, causing breakage. But it appears developers will not have to resort to unofficial ways to build Tiles in a not so distant future.
Finally, nearly a year and a half after the debut of Tiles, it looks like Google is preparing to introduce an official Tiles API. An AOSP commit titled “initial commit of Wear Tiles API” adds the Tiles API to the AndroidX support library.
Initial commit of Wear Tiles API.
This checks in the app-side of the Wear Tiles API. Tests (and testing libs) have not yet been added, but will come in a future CL. This version exists really to start kicking off API reviews.
Once this commit is merged, developers will be able to call this API after updating to the latest AndroidX version.
With the release of the official Tiles API, we should see more developers jumping on board and bringing exciting new Tiles for Wear OS-powered smartwatches. We don’t know when Google plans to release the API publicly. But we’ll be keeping a close eye on the development and sure to let you know if we learn anything new.
Update 1: Initial commit merged for Wear OS Tiles API
Now that the initial commit implementing the Wear OS Tiles API has been merged (h/t @kevinslife2), it won’t be long before developers will be able to officially add Tiles to their Wear OS app. However, Google has yet to conduct API testing, so the company may not make the API immediately available in the Wear AndroidX Jetpack library. We’ll update this article once it’s generally available.