Android Wear Designing for watches

Designing for watches

Material design for Android Wear helps you design engaging app experiences.

Understand use cases Expand and collapse content An arrow that points down when collapsed and points up when expanded.

When designing apps for smartwatches, focus on use cases that make sense for the watch environment. Watches allow users to get information at a glance, such as the arrival of the next bus, and to act quickly, like responding to an instant message.

The watch interface presents unique usage opportunities that are not available on traditional mobile devices, including:

  • Easy access (with a flick of the wrist)
  • Input enabled by a physical body connection (through sensors, motion detection, and buzzing)

The watch also comes with limitations:

  • Smaller screen space
  • Less information density
  • Limited battery life

Consider both the capabilities and limitations of the platform when designing apps for watches.

Do: use cases

Do.

Design experiences where tasks can be accomplished easily using the watch interface.

Do: use cases

Don’t.

Complex, detailed apps that include items like spreadsheets may be difficult to edit and view on a watch.

Focus on core functionality Expand and collapse content An arrow that points down when collapsed and points up when expanded.

Wear apps should be designed to support your app’s core functionality. Don’t include unnecessary features, actions, or content in your app’s watch UI.

For example:

  • An email app for Wear should focus on reading messages and sending replies. It shouldn’t include options for adding attachments or editing recipients.
  • A calendar app for Wear should allow users to check attendee availability, read event summaries, and accept invites. It shouldn’t provide the option to create or edit events.
Limit do

Do.

Choose the most critical functionality for the experience.

Limit dont

Don’t.

Include every available action in the app experience.

Test designs Expand and collapse content An arrow that points down when collapsed and points up when expanded.

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Design for round shapes

The majority of Wear devices have round displays, which have 22% less UI space than rectangular displays. Round displays also need larger margins for text to be easily readable.

Design for round devices first to make sure your layout works within the smaller size constraints.

Test on watch

Test designs on a smartwatch

Designs that work in graphics software may not work on small screens. Make sure to preview your design using a watch preview tool.

Take it for a spin

Take your designs for a spin

People wearing watches are regularly in motion, whether they are standing, gesturing, or running to catch a bus. Test your designs in situations that involve user movement to make sure the design is usable at a glance.

See more about Wear resources.

App examples Expand and collapse content An arrow that points down when collapsed and points up when expanded.

Material design for Android Wear helps you design engaging app experiences. Below are a few illustrated examples of Wear apps that follow the principles described in this guide.

Email app

Example of an email app

Task management app

Example of a task management app

Instant messaging app

Example of an instant messaging app

Stopwatch

Example of a stopwatch app

Dialer

Example of a dialer app

Calculator

Example of a calculator app