When we reported about Android Wear Oreo release to eligible smartwatches back in 2017, we hardly knew anything about Google’s plans to rename the OS to Wear OS. However, it did happen and today, we are no longer talking about Android Wear, rather, we are here to discuss the latest Wear OS Android P developer preview, which has just been made official by Google.
Android P is the first installment of the wearable OS since its rebranding to Wear OS, which also comes with a new logo to go with the changed name. In the latest version, which, as usual, is limited to app developers, the company has increased focus on smartwatch battery life and made some tweaks to the user interface as well, but is that all you get with the new OS? Definitely not!
In this post, we have put together the top 5 features of Wear OS Android P update based on what is available in the first developer preview. And no, they aren’t listed in order of importance.
Default dark mode
Wear OS Android P developer preview has a lot to do with battery saving features. The first of which is the introduction of a new default dark UI system theme. As you may know, dark themes are light on battery usage, but there’s more to this feature.
With the dark mode, it is way easier to glance at Wear apps compared to the mostly white background that we had gotten used to since the debut of Android Wear. Of course, this is a step above the optional dark mode introduced with the update to Oreo towards the end of last year.
No background activity
Since it’s based on Android P, the new Wear OS developer preview also brings along some of the coolest features available for smartphones and tablets, among them limited background activity. Due to their physical size, smartwatches have small batteries and with the multiple apps that run on the devices, having them active in the background can cause the battery to drain up quite fast.
With the ability to limit background activity, Wear OS will kill any activity in the background while leaving out the watch face and settings. It’s only when the watch is charging that the new Wear OS will allow multiple apps to run in the background.
We all know how handy the flight or airplane mode can get on our Android smartphones. Wear OS Android P developer has gained a similar feature that brings automatic flight mode to your smartwatch. Wondering how it works? Well, the software will keep an eye on the watch’s activity and whenever it notices that you are no longer wearing it, for instance, when asleep, all connectivity radios are turned off.
These radios include Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and cellular, if supported, the result of which is that any open connection will not use any power that unnecessarily drains the battery when the watch is not in use.
Turning off Bluetooth automatically turns off Wi-Fi
Another battery-saving feature that Android P developer preview brings to Wear OS has to do with radios, too. But unlike the previous where the software turns off radios when the watch is off-body, this feature will turn off Wi-Fi whenever it detects that Bluetooth is also turned off.
That is, if the watch has not established a Bluetooth connection with any smartphone, it won’t be able to connect to any Wi-Fi network whatsoever. Interestingly, the Wi-Fi connection will go through if the device is charging, even if the watch is not connected to your phone via Bluetooth.
This tweak also means that your watch will only be capable of downloading and installing new software when connected to a charging station.
Developers are restricted to using official SDK
The open nature of Android has meant that developers can do almost anything as long as they don’t jeopardize the existence of the OS. For instance, developers of Wear apps have been able to use either the official or non-official SDK methods when creating apps. However, with Wear OS Android P developer preview, it’s only possible to create Wear apps using the official SDK method.
If anything, this restriction should play a significant role in ensuring apps are well optimized and are compatible across all Wear OS smartwatches.
As far as compatibility of Wear OS Android P developer preview is concerned, only those using the Huawei Watch 2 can download and install this OS on their smartwatch. We expected the flagship LG Watch Sport to lead the way in getting this developer preview, especially considering that Google had its marks all over it during the watch’s launch in 2017. But hey, we don’t make the rules and even so, at least it’s something.