Product Design

Designing for Android Wear

Wearables are the next big thing. Never a step behind, Google finally announced their operating system for smartwatches and other future wearables: Android Wear. As designers, when designing for these new, tiny screens, one thing we need to keep in mind is to not take the UI paradigms of phones or tablets and expect them to translate the same way on a smartwatch. Although both Android Wear and phones/tablets present similar information, they are two different experiences, and should be treated as such when it comes to designing apps for the respective devices.

With this new interface of Android Wear comes new thinking. Hayes Raffle said it best during his talk at Google I/O:

“Computing should start to disappear and not be the foreground of our attention all the time.”

Android Wear is the perfect example of how technology is transitioning into allowing people to do less computing but still get the same information. Now people can quickly check what is going on in their digital lives and get back to the real world without being immersed in their devices for minutes on end, as illustrated below: designwear2

With this in mind, designing for Android Wear should be all about “glanceability.” People should be given a singular and focused interaction when viewing information. In the example below, the design on the right is much easier to digest in a split second compared to the design on the left. This is because only the most crucial information is being shown in a large, easily viewable format.


Be sure to check out the documentation provided by Google to get a complete understanding of best practices for designing apps for Android Wear.

* graphics in this post are from Google

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