Wear OS Developer Preview brings Android P platform features, now available for Huawei Watch 2
Google’s wearable operating system hasn’t been a huge success so far. When it launched in 2014, there was a lot of hype around wearables, and we saw plenty of manufacturers release Android Wear-powered smartwatches. In the years since, however, we have seen a decline in interest by vendors in building new smartwatches for Google’s wearable operating system. To help combat this, Android Wear was re-branded as “Wear OS by Google” a few weeks ago. Now, the first Android P-based Wear OS Developer Preview has been launched, bringing Android P platform features to wearables.
Updated system images on the official Android Emulator are now available. Users can manually download and flash a system image for the Huawei Watch 2 Bluetooth and Huawei Watch 2 Classic Bluetooth. Google states that this initial release is intended only for developers and is not intended for daily or consumer use. As such, it’s only available via manual download and flashing.
The first Wear OS by Google Developer Preview brings restrictions related to non-SDK methods and fields. Android P has started restricting access to non-SDK methods and fields to improve app compatibility. Google states that developers should make plans to migrate away from them. The company also wants developers to let it know if there is no public equivalent for a particular use case.
Since the start of the year, Wear OS has switched to a dark UI system theme with a dark/black background for the notifications stream and system launcher. Now, the dark UI system theme is the default in order to make it easier to glance at wear apps. Google advises developers to check the accessibility of their app’s UI after this change.
In another change, apps will no longer be allowed to run in the background unless the watch is on the charger. This will be done to improve power. Google states that developers should note Wear OS is “going further” with Android’s app standby feature than some other form factors. The exceptions to this include watch faces and applications the user has currently selected. The company adds that this feature will be rolled out gradually in the developer preview and developers should remove background services in their apps.
Finally, Wear OS developer preview turns off Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and cellular radios when the watch is detected to be off the body for an extended period of time to improve power. This feature will be rolled out gradually as well, so it may not be immediately visible. Developers can disable this feature via ADB if it causes challenges to their development process. Also, the device will no longer connect to Wi-Fi when disconnected to Bluetooth for the same purpose of improving power. The exceptions to this include if an app is requesting a high bandwidth network or if the watch is on the charger.
Google states that it expects to provide several updates to this preview before the final production release. Users are also advised to refer to the release notes for known issues before downloading and flashing their device.