This fall, Android Wear will make the switch to Android L and bring along the much-anticipated custom watch face API. Since its launch at Google I/O, developers and early adopters were disappointed to find out that Android Wear didn’t have an API to create a custom watch face. Some developers have worked around this by turning the watch face into a stand-alone app, but this method obviously has drawbacks and isn’t a long term solution.
Wayne Piekarski, senior developer advocate at Google, took the time to give us some insight into the situation via a Google+ post:
Custom watch faces are activities running inside another process. However, they have some special considerations due to interactions with the stream and always-on ambient mode--including using a shorter peek card, moving the status indicators for battery and mute, and rendering the faces differently in ambient mode. Right now, without an official API, making a really great watch face currently takes a fair bit of tweaking.
We are working to make this as simple as possible for you so that it’s easy to make good-looking faces that work well across multiple form factors, conserve battery, and display the user’s card stream nicely. Some of these changes won’t be ready until we migrate Android Wear to the Android L release later this year, but don’t fret: they’re coming!Wayne PiekarskiGoogle
As Piekarski explained, the watch face API is a bit tricky to create with the special considerations that come with it. Nonetheless, Google is working hard to create it so that developers can quickly and easily create custom watch faces. Piekarski also confirms that Android Wear will update to run on Android L come fall. At this point is when we’ll likely see the custom watch face API be released. Finally, Piekarski gives a word of warning to devs: hold off on publishing your apps today, or if you do, use the alpha and beta channels of the Play Store, because there’s a good chance that your workaround app won’t work with the API once it’s released.