In late August of last year, Google announced some updates to its Android Wear policy which would affect the requirements for an app to obtain an “Enhanced for Android Wear” badge. Whereas previously, apps could qualify simply by implementing enhanced notifications, Google’s planned policy change for January 18th, 2018 imposed some stricter restrictions.
The new policy would require apps to work as standalone Wear apps and force Wear APKs to be uploaded to the Play Store as a multi-APK instead of bundling them within phone apps. However, feedback on the multi-APK system has forced Google to delay fully implementing the policy, according to Hoi Lam, an Android Wear Staff Developer Advocate.
“Developers [have] reported unexpected latency between when a user installs a mobile app and when the corresponding Wear app is installed via multi-APK on Wear 1.0 devices,” Lam stated in a Google+ post. “As a result, we are postponing the policy change related to multi-APK for Wear apps, but will go ahead with other policy updates on Jan 18.” Despite the setback, Google still plans to eventually go ahead with enforcing the multi-APK system when it manages to resolve the latency issue. In the meantime, however, developers will be permitted to bundle their Wear app with the mobile app to support users on Wear 1.0 and still qualify to receive the badge. If the app is also supposed to work as a standalone app, developers will additionally have to upload the Wear APK to the Play Store separately.
Raising the bar for the “Enhanced for Android Wear” badge is not only good for consumers, since it makes it easier to find higher quality apps for Android Wear, it also helps developers by making their apps eligible to be listed on the top charts for Android Wear, as well as giving them a chance to be featured in Google’s curated collections on the Play Store.