If you were asked to list a few of the top innovative technology companies across the world, Google will definitely feature in that list, right?

In its bid to provide smart devices to users with even smarter features, Google came up with the Android Wear platform last year to ensure you get access to your Android phone’s key features directly on your wrist.

It is an open operating system for wearable devices such as smartwatches. As with most technologically advanced devices, it has managed to garner plenty of attention from users.

In fact, even Android developers have started to see it as a big opportunity to design or develop several apps for a better interactive user experience with contextual information on the Android Wear.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the key points that developers like you need to know to start developing Android Wear apps, including usage patterns.

We will also go through some specific design principles (or guidelines) that Google has listed for developers of Android Wear apps to ensure that information is offered at the right time and in the right quantity to the users.

Provide Instant Information

Before we delve into the actual stuff required for the development of Android Wear apps, it is important to understand the purpose of the Android Wear platform.

With a new user interface, this platform is dedicated to helping users find information fairly quickly. Google has carried out extensive research to understand how our smartphones can help us stay more in touch with our environment.

Therefore, as a developer, your objective should be to develop apps that provide instant information to users and save their time.

What You Need

To start using Android Wear, you need the following things in place:

  • – The Android Wear app from Google Play Store
  • – A smartphone with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean or higher
  • – An Android Wear device
  • – The ability to pair your Android phone with your Wear device

You are now ready to receive notifications from your Android phone on your Android Wear device, which are both connected via Bluetooth. You can act upon the notifications (interact with them or dismiss them) directly on the Android Wear device.

Until now, smartwatches have been quite famous as the Android Wear device. However, some initial examples of smartwatches based on the Android Wear platform are LG G Watch, Samsung Gear Live and Moto 360.

Understanding Usage Patterns

Every user interacts with an Android Wear device in two ways: “Suggest” and “Demand”.

Suggest Usage Pattern

This refers to useful and timely information that is sent as a notification to the user’s Android Wear device. The task of pushing through the relevant information is carried out by the Android Wear app, and so it is necessary for the app to clearly understand the context.

The short and crisp notification is considered as a “card” by the user interface. This “card-type” notification must be easily readable and require minimal interaction from the user to save time.

Some typical examples of the “Suggest” usage pattern include weather forecast updates, stock market updates, flight schedule updates and similar instant messages.

Demand Usage Pattern

This involves voice interaction with the Android Wear device. The user interacts with the wearable device to seek information by speaking to it and the device responds with the relevant information.

For this type of voice interaction, the device is equipped with a microphone to allow users to invoke standard actions to be performed by a simple tap on the home screen or by saying “OK, Google”.

The interface asks the users to speak out the action they want performed through specific prompts like “call someone”, “take a note” or “send a message”. The app can help users to register such standard actions or even customize the prompt text messages.

Android Wear App Design Guidelines

As per Google Wear Design Creative Vision section, the key aspects to remember when designing Android Wear apps are listed below:

  • The apps should be launched automatically without any user click or prompt, as they are expected to be aware of the user’s context – location, time, physical activity and so on. The relevant card needs to be inserted accordingly.
  • You need to ensure that the title text of the notification is short, crisp and very easy to read with a quick glance from the user on his or her wearable device. It should be as quick as checking the time on a wristwatch.
  • You need to strike the right balance for effective usage of “Suggest” and “Demand” user interaction modes on the app, as the objective of Android Wear is to serve as an ideal personal assistant that readily provides an answer and interrupts only when it is extremely important.
  • The app needs to be designed in such a way as to ensure minimal user interaction requirement while keeping in mind the small display of the wearable device. User interaction must be kept easy with simple tap or swipe gestures.

We hope the above information proves useful to you as an initial guide for Android Wear app development.

Well, this is the first-part of our guide to Android Wear app development and we will come up with more in-depth information in the next part. Till then, keep checking back here.