All of us know that have been many updates and improvements when it comes to Android Wear and its about time to review the platform. Of course there’s a lot more to come but its time you know what to count on to start developing your Android Wear applications.
The most important things in the Android Wear platform are depth and flexibility. Since Android Wear, as the name implies, is built on Android it allows us, developers, to user familiar APIs to create apps that run directly on the watch.
You have the freedom to make major changes to the UX (user experience) including the capability of creating custom watch faces.
There are 3 main categories of experiences you can build: apps, custom watch faces and notifications.
Applications built for Android Wear run on the watch and can almost match anything that can be done with a phone. Some of those can even work without a connection to the phone itself, like music and fitness applications.
There are already libraries that can help you move data between the phone and the wearable and create stunning and adaptable user interfaces.
Take a look at the features you have access to:
- Full screen activities with touch events
- Notifications and custom actions
- Custom watch faces
- Layouts for round and square devices
- Sensors (Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Compass, Barometer, Hear rate sensor)
- Voice actions
- Offline storing of data/music
- Media playback controls
- Framework based on Android 5.0 API 21
- Standalone or synchronised apps
This gives you direct access to the most prominent element of the user interface on their most personal device.
The API is simple enough to build watch faces quickly and it also maintains enough flexibility to allow personalisation.
You have to start by bringing your design to the wrist, this is where the onDraw method comes in, as it allows you to draw whatever you can think of to the canvas at a high frame rate in order to deliver fluid animations.
The animations will come through in full when the watch is in interactive mode.
When the watch is in ambient mode you are able to draw a more discreet version of the watch face. There are additional preferences that you can set in order to arrange the system UI in an appropriate matter in your design. After that is covered you can add stuff like the moon phase, current weather and fitness stats.
These are known by watchmakers as complications but since you are dealing with Android underneath there is no complication at all, once you retrieve the data just draw on the canvas.
If you have an Android application with notifications they will also work on a Wear watch, if by any chance your notifications have actions, you can also rest assured as they will work as well.
Of course there are more Wear-specific features you can add like Stack, Pages and Voice replies in order to improve your notifications.
The UX you build for the Wear get to take advantage of all that the Android platform provides. It is really easy to get started and to create something great for your users.