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Google to Introduce Custom Watch Face API, to Help Foster Better Watch Faces

July 17, 2014 - Written By Tom Dawson

 

That right there, in the picture above, is a cool new watch face for my G Watch and while my meathook of a hand doesn’t do it justice, the Starwatch is a pretty awesome watch face. These are showing up with increasing frequency these days and since our new smartwatch feature last week where I talked about watch faces, there’s been a good selection hit the store. This week alone we’ve seen the Starwatch face arrive, a Matrix watch face (animated code and all) and a retro watch face to take you back to the Casio days. This is great, right? Customization is what makes Android such a great platform to use, and while the same is sure to make Android Wear great, Google is looking for developers to cool it a little, until their dedicated Watch Face API is finished and in place.

All of these cool watch faces are hitting the Play Store thanks to some crafty workarounds that have been discovered, and as Android Wear users will tell you things aren’t that much fun with certain faces. We can’t choose for cards to be of different heights, so certain faces – like the Starwatch face – push the time further up to accommodate for larger cards, like the weather card. Developers that don’t make a change for this will end up with their clocks being blocked by cards, leaving the user no option but to swipe them away. Google is working on a Custom Watch Face API which will enable developers to make better, more streamlined watch faces and Wayne Piekarski has taken to the Android Wear Developers Community on Google+ to relay some info.

Speaking about said API Wayne said that “We are working to make this as simple as possible for you so that it’s easy to make good-looking faces that work well across multiple form factors, conserve battery, and display the user’s card stream nicely”, something we’d all like to see as cards can be both a blessing and a pain, but they can be removed from dimmed displays. The API isn’t finished yet, but the team is working on ‘finalizing’ it for the near future, but some things won’t be in place till Wear moves over to Android L. Finally, Wayne finishes by asking developers to hold off until said API is ready; “we would suggest not posting your apps publicly to Google Play until there is a stable, published API (we’d suggest using Alpha or Beta channels, available through the Play Developer Console, in the meantime)”

Does this mean that I’m going to stop playing around with watch faces? Nope. It is however, nice to see Google moving quickly to make Wear better, and unlike those that have approached smartwatches before, Google knows that it’s developers that will either make or break their platform. Hopefully this API is going to come in soon, and awesome watch faces will continue to hit the Play Store.