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Google is taking steps to make Wear OS apps less ropey

Google is reportedly set to enter the smartwatch market this year with the upcoming Google Pixel Watch. Ahead of releasing its first watch, the company seems to be taking steps to make third-party apps a little more professional by making the previously optional Play Store review mandatory.

Just as Google sought a sense of unity with its new phone development guidelines, the new rules should improve the standard of wrist-based apps by ensuring they pass muster before being made available. This rule will apply to all new Wear OS apps from October 1, and existing apps from March 4 2019.

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The review process for Android apps, Google says, is unchanged by these, and said app updates will not be blocked even if an accompanying Wear app fails the review.

The full review guidelines can be read here, but Google says there are two common areas where Wear developers often fall short: screenshots and support for different screen sizes. The former is simple enough, and can be passed with a single image, which won’t be displayed if an app is in a pre-release state.

The support for different screens is a little trickier, thanks to the many shapes and sizes Wear OS watches come in. While Apple Watch developers only have to deal with one uniformly sized square face, those running Google’s operating system need to run on round screens, square screens and those with the infamous ‘flat tyre’ flawlessly.

Google recommends developers run their apps through the Wear OS emulator to ensure compatibility.

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We hope this lightweight app review process will improve the quality of Wear app experiences across the wide range of devices available to your users,” wrote Hoil Lam, the lead developer advocate of Wear OS in a blog post.

“In addition, since screenshots are required for the Wear app review, this will improve the discovery and presentation of your Wear apps in the Google Play Store.”

Will this improve the quality of Wear OS apps? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter @TrustedReviews.

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