Android trends have been showing an increased reputation and popularity towards Android Wearable devices. With that being said, Android Wear apps have also been playing a significant role for the past few months. Android developers who have been designing for mobile devices, would think that Android Wear apps design wouldn’t be too much different with the ones for mobile. Where in fact, Android Wear apps even have its own design principles. Below are some important Android Wear app design principles that could help Android developers design their Wear apps even better.
The Context Stream. The Context Stream is a vertical list of cards, each showing a useful or timely piece of information. Users swipe vertically to navigate from each card, just like how they use Google Now feature on Android devices. One card would be displayed at a time, and the background picture acts as an additional piece of visual information.
The idea of the Context Stream is for the user to be able to retrieve important information without having to open multiple apps. Simply by glancing to their wrist, they would be informed on whats going on and what notifications need to be responded.
When a user swipes horizontally, the cards usually show additional buttons or information, which the user can interact with. The cards can also be dismissed by swiping left to right, removing them from the stream until the next time the app has useful information to display.
The Cue Card. For some cases, Android Wear may not suggest an answer proactively through the Context Stream. That is when the Cue Card allows users to speak to Google by saying “Ok, Google”, or tapping on the background of the home screen. Swiping the Cue Card up will also show numbers of suggested voice commands, that can also be tapped.
Android developers should take some advantages of this feature. For example, the developed apps may be matched to some of the voice commands intents, so the user would be able to perform tasks using their voice.
Applications could respond to a voice command in the same way as they can respond to a tap on a regular in-stream action button: by adding or updating a stream card, or by launching a full screen application. Voice input often takes the form of a command, such as “remind me to get eggs,” where a simple confirmation animation is sufficient to display before returning to the Context Stream.
Other UI Features
Home Screen. The home screen is a default Android Wear app feature that may become status indicators, showing connectivity, charging status, airplane mode, or even a count of unread items.
The background, showing either content relating to the first card or a custom watch face design, depending on the watch face the user has chosen. Tapping anywhere on the background or saying “Ok Google” starts a voice query.
Watch faces. Android wear watch faces may be chosen by the user to appear in the background of the Home screen. Watch faces display the time and accommodate the top ranked peek card, and users can choose a different watch face by long pressing on the current one.
Ambient Mode. Some devices may enter a low-power Ambient Mode when not being used. This usually involves dimming the screen, and the contents of a peek card will automatically be optimized for display in this state. Users can exit ambient mode by tapping on the screen, by tilting the screen towards them, or by pressing a hardware button if one exists.
Date and Battery.When users swipe down, the Home screen would reveal the Date and Battery display. When they continue swiping down further, it would toggle the Mute mode and prevent interruptive notifications of vibrating and illuminating the screen.
Screen Settings. The cue card and some devices use the hardware button to evoke the Settings screen. Android Wear users may shut down or restart their device, adjust screen brightness, toggle airplane mode, and access device information.
Full screen apps. Full screen apps can be launched on top of the main stream where a wider range of interaction happens. This feature is not stylistically limited to the context stream pattern;Wear apps should respect the same design principles as the rest of the system.