Back in March, Google rebranded Android Wear, its operating system for smartwatches, to "Wear OS". Since Android Wear 2.0, the app review process for developers submitting their software to the Google Play Store has been completely optional. However, Google has now announced that it will soon be made mandatory for Wear OS apps in an effort to improve app quality.
Google announced that the review process will remain unchanged for smartphone apps but their Wear OS counterparts will now have to necessarily pass Google's criteria to be eligible for publication on Google Play. That said, the two processes are independent of each other and if the Wear OS app fails its review, its mobile counterpart will still go through.
Google hopes to significantly improve the Wear OS app quality in the Google Play Store through its review process, which it describes as "lightweight". The company notes that it has noticed two major issues in Wear OS apps:
- Support for different screen types - Wear OS by Google is available in both round and square screens, and some round devices also have a chin. Developers are advised to test on all screen types. If a physical device is unavailable, please use the Wear OS by Google emulator.
- Wear OS by Google app screenshot - To pass the review, the app needs to have at least one Wear OS app screenshot. To keep pre-release Wear apps private, the Google Play Store will not show the Wear screenshots unless the Wear App is in production or open testing. Currently, the Google Play Store only supports uploading one set of screenshots across all production and test versions. For existing Wear apps, we recommend developers keeping their production Wear app screenshots unchanged when uploading new open test or closed test Wear apps.
New Wear apps will have to pass the mandatory review process from October 1, 2018, while existing apps can remain as is until March 4, 2019. In order to slightly facilitate developers who submit rudimentary versions of their apps to the Store for testing by beta users, Google suggest to manually deploy their APKs or to use the Play Console to for testing with up to 100 internal accounts.