Patterns Sign in

Sign in

Some Wear OS apps can run without the phone.

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

Ease of use of various authentication methods

The scale of methods for signing into apps on Wear OS ranges from easiest (left) to most difficult (right). The easiest methods for the user are to sign in with Google and getting credentials through the data layer. The more difficult sign-in methods for the user are signing in on a phone and on a watch.

Method 1: Sign in with Google

During setup, users may add Google accounts to their watches, allowing them to sign in with that account in your app.

Sign in with Google method

The user signs in with their Google account.

Method 2: Get credentials through data layer

If the user is signed into your phone app, these identity credentials can be used to automatically sign them into your watch app.

Sign in with tokens method

The user signs in on their phone app and those credentials sign them into the watch.

Method 3: Open on phone

Sign-in and sign-up options may be displayed on the user’s phone.

Sign in with open on phone method

The user signs in on their phone.

Method 4: Type on watch

Users may type in their login credentials using the watch keyboard. This sign-in method should only be offered as a backup solution because it requires a lot of typing on a small screen.

Sign in on watch keyboard method

The user types in the username and password using the watch keyboard.

Best practices Expand and collapse content An arrow that points down when collapsed and points up when expanded.

Prompt users at the right time

Don’t force users to sign up unless it is necessary.

Decision tree showing best times to prompt users for authentication

Explain sign-in benefits

If a user needs to sign in, provide a reason using surrounding context and benefits.

Do: Example of justifying sign-in


Justify why sign-in is beneficial. This app provides context by asking for sign-in after the user initiates a “follow topic” action.

Don’t: Example of justifying sign-in


Don’t assume the user understands why sign-in is beneficial. This app displays a prompt immediately after the app launches, and the screen does not provide additional context.

Simplify decision-making

Prioritize choices and group similar options.

Do: Example of reducing choice by grouping similar options  into one action


Group sign-in solutions into the smallest number of options, highlighting the simplest methods. This app has grouped all methods that open the same sign-in page on the phone into a single option, and highlights the easier on-watch option.

Do reduce choice by collapsing options


Don’t make the user choose between many different options that have the same result. In this example, the 3 open-on-phone options all lead to the same place.

Provide alternatives

Offer 2 different sign-in methods, or the option to skip sign-in (in case one fails).

Do: Example of providing an alternative when the user has opened on phone


Provide alternative sign-in methods in case one method isn’t feasible. This app offers an on-phone choice and 2 backup options in case the user’s phone isn’t nearby.

Dont: Example of not providing a user a backup option


Don’t offer only 1 off-watch sign-in method. This watch app doesn’t give any alternate to signing in on phone, which is problematic if the user’s phone is not nearby.


Streamline the process by reducing the number of steps needed to sign-in, and eliminating redundancy.

Do: Example of keeping a user signed in


After initial sign-in, keep users signed in for as long as possible given your app’s privacy and security requirements.

Do: Example of simplifying sign in to a code instead of username/password


If you require user input to sign in, consider wearable-friendly approaches, such as allowing a user to create a special code on a numeric keyboard.

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

status and confirmations

Display a message the first time a user signs in which either explains the process of signing in or confirms successful sign-in.

Suppress the message for each subsequent time the app is opened.

Example of dedicated sign in process

Use a signing-in process state if sign-in could fail or if content won’t load until the process is complete.

Example of signed in confirmation

If a user is automatically signed in, show a non-blocking confirmation instead. Use only if not using the dedicated sign-in process state.

Waiting for sign-in on phone

Let the user know when the sign-in screen opens on the phone and hold a waiting state on the watch. Include alternative actions, like Cancel or Skip, in case the user has trouble.

Example showing status messaging while an app is waiting for sign in on the phone

Use a waiting state on the watch while a user completes a task on the phone.

Phone not available

Communicate when the phone is not available, and provide alternative actions to improve user success.

Example of how to message users when phone fails to connect for sign-in

If a phone is not nearby, show another way to sign in.

Example of how to message users when phone fails to connect for sign-in

If a phone is not nearby, show another way to continue to the next step.

Outdated credentials

Recognize that users have signed in before and prefill details that you already know, like username.

Detecting that the user previously signed in, this app omits the text explaining the benefits of signing in and prefills the username.

Validation errors

When users incorrectly type in credentials, display a message on the device where the user entered the information.

Example of where to handle validation of credentials on phone

If the user enters credentials on the phone, verify those credentials on the phone.

Provide clear indication of failure and backup options

If the watch detects a validation error, scroll the user to the correct location and print an error message. Offer backup options like forgot password flows.