Wear OS May Finally Gain Support For Third-Party Tiles

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Google appears to be finally gearing up to release an official API for the Tiles feature for Wear OS. A new code change titled "initial commit of Wear Tiles API" posted to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) suggests this development.

Initial commit of Wear Tiles API.

This checks in the app-side of the Wear Tiles API. Tests (and testing libs) have not yet been added, but will come in a future CL. This version exists really to start kicking off API reviews.

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The code commit has multiple references to "AndroidX," suggesting that the support may arrive as an update to Android Jetpack's Wear library. Developers should be able to access the API after updating to the latest AndroidX version.

However, we might still be a good few months away from the launch. It only recently entered the review process and is still undergoing changes. It could be another long wait before this new Tiles API becomes available for developers.

Google is preparing an official Tiles API for Wear OS

Google announced the Tiles feature for Wear OS back in May 2019. It shows bite-sized pieces of information from your favorite apps on Wear OS smartwatches. You can swipe from right-to-left to access these informative app widgets on your watch. The latest Wear OS version 2.40 update for Android even added support for more than the previous maximum of five Tiles at a time.

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However, all this while, Google never released an official API for Tiles. This means the feature was limited to Google's own built-in Wear OS apps like Google Fit, Google Calendar, and the Weather app. Third-party developers couldn't make use of the feature for their apps.

This was not very surprising, to be honest. Developments for Wear OS have always been so few and far between and this was another example of it. Sometimes, it feels like Google has given up on its wearable platform but the company again rises from the dead to launch a new feature. The same is happening again. Google is finally preparing to release a Tiles API for Wear OS, nearly two years after the feature was first launched.

The addition of the Tiles feature was one of the few good things that have happened to Wear OS in the recent past. With no official support coming from Google, some developers even reverse-engineered an unofficial way of creating custom Wear OS Tiles.

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However, these undocumented APIs are not always reliable. Thankfully, interested developers will not have to wait much longer for an official API for Wear OS Tiles, or at least they now know that it's coming. Hopefully, Google will continue to add new features to Wear OS and keep the platform relevant.