Google's Wear OS developer previews recently took the ability to run background jobs or use alarms away from apps running in the background in order to help with battery life and memory management, but thanks to heavy backlash, the latest version of the OS brings those capabilities back. In order to avoid defeating the purpose of taking those capabilities out in the first place, however, Wear OS now uses app standby buckets, which categorize apps and place restrictions on their access to system resources based on how recently they've been used and how often they're accessed. The preview should already be live for all connected devices that were running the previous version, which means that developers won't have to do anything.
The new app standby buckets feature is part and parcel of Android P, and puts apps into five different categories. Apps that are currently running in the foreground are obviously allowed utmost priority and the highest usage, with almost no restrictions. Apps that are used on a regular basis, once daily or more often, get the least restrictions out of any non-running apps. A third category is for apps that are run often, but not every single day. The fourth category, meanwhile, heavily restricts apps that are seldom used. Finally, a fifth category puts severe restrictions on apps that have been downloaded, but never used.
The newest version of Wear OS is still under heavy development, with new features, tweaks, and tests coming out with each new developer preview. The same can be said of Android P, which the new Wear OS is based on. Thus far, the new OS for wearables has gotten a darker theme that's more glanceable and battery-friendly, restrictions on functions outside of the Android SDK to make app compatibility between different pieces of hardware simpler, and a number of changes aimed at helping out battery life, such as turning off radios when a watch is not being worn and turning Wi-Fi off automatically when Bluetooth is not connected. The Wear OS developer preview is, for now, only available for manual flashing, but developers who do so can get some updates, such as this most recent one, over the air.