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Material Design Arrives in Final Android Wear 2.0 SDK

After a longer-than-expected developer preview, Android Wear 2.0 has gone live, with features such as a new system UI based on Material Design guidelines.

"Material Design has arrived on Android Wear," announced developer advocate Hoi Lam in a new video highlighting the release of the final SDK for Android Wear 2.0, Google's OS for wearable devices such as smartwatches.

Material Design is described as a "design language," introduced by Google in 2014 to guide Android development and design efforts, providing a "unified system that combines theory, resources and tools for crafting digital experiences."

In a blog post, Lam further highlighted the Material Design influence in Google Wear 2.0, which he characterized as "the most significant update to Android Wear since its launch in 2014."

Material Design for Android Wear, Lam said, is "A new system user interface and design guidelines, featuring a darker color palette, vertical layout and visual components such as the WearableRecyclerView and WearableNavigationDrawer. We have also enhanced notifications on the watch with the new MessagingStyle rich notification style and inline actions."

Lam said research revealed that using a vertical layout -- and reserving horizontal swipes only for dismissing activities -- makes the UI easier to understand.

Meanwhile, the darker color palette helps the watch blend in better in social environments while at the same time saving battery life.

Besides the Material Design support, the two other primary features Lam chose to highlight in Android Wear 2.0 include watch face complications -- areas that display information other than time -- and standalone Android Wear apps, with iOS support.

"Apps can now be downloaded directly to Wear devices via an on-watch Google Play Store," he said. "In addition, these apps can access the Internet directly without relying on phone apps. This means that apps can now run on Android Wear devices that are paired to iOS devices."

The final SDK also includes new API support for physical button locations and rotary input, along with app review changes.

"Now that Android Wear 2.0 is live, we'll soon update the Android Wear App Quality review process with two important changes," Lam said. "First, enhancing your phone app notifications for Android Wear will no longer be sufficient for passing the review. Second, it will soon be required that you upload a watch APK that's compatible with Android Wear 2.0. Only apps that pass these criteria will receive badging in Play Store on the phone and be eligible for top charts for Android Wear apps. These changes will ensure a more consistent experience for users and allow us to streamline the review process for you."

Lam said the developer preview for Android Wear 2.0 lasted longer than expected, but the new OS has been rolled out to two watches developed with help from Google: the LG Watch Style and LG Watch Sport. It will be available to other watches in the coming weeks.

About the Author

David Ramel is editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine and Application Development Trends Magazine.

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