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page.title=Watch Faces for Android Wear
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<a class="notice-developers right" href="{@docRoot}training/wearables/watch-faces/index.html"
<h3>Developer Docs</h3>
<p>Creating Watch Faces</p>
<p>Android Wear supports custom watch faces with designs that can show contextually relevant
information to users. Designing a watch face requires a careful blending of data and visual
elements that informs users without requiring close attention. Simple, attractive layouts that
can adjust to different screen shapes and sizes, provide options for color and presentation, let
users create a deeply personalized experience with the Wear device that fits them best. Watch
faces exist as part of the Wear user interface, so it is important to provide interactive and
ambient modes, and consider how system user interface elements will interact with your design.</p>
<p>Follow the guidelines in this page to design your custom watch faces.</p>
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<h2 id="CreativeVision">Creative Vision</h2>
<p>Creating a watch face for Android Wear is an exercise centered around visualizing time clearly.
Android Wear devices provide a unique digital canvas to reimagine the ways in which we tell time.
Android Wear also lets you integrate data on watch faces for a higher level of personalization and
contextual relevance.</p>
<p>These powerful new tools to create watch faces run the risk of overcomplicating a design. The
most successful watch face designs leverage these advanced capabilities while delivering a
singular, elegant expression of information.</p>
<p>Glanceability is the single most important principle to consider when creating a watch face
design. Your watch face designs should deliver a singular expression of time and related data.
Experiment with bold, minimal, and expressive design directions that are highly readable at a
<h2 id="SquareRound">Plan for Square and Round Devices</h2>
<p>Android Wear devices come in different shapes and sizes. You will need to consider both
square and round faces as well as different resolutions. Some concepts work better in a certain
format, but a little planning will allow users to enjoy your watch face regardless of screen
<p>These guidelines help your concepts align across devices:</p>
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<h3>Create flexible concepts</h3>
<p>Ideally, the visual functionality of the watch face works for both round and square
formats. In this example, the visual functionality of the watch face is flexible enough
to work well in either format without any adjustment. However, other design concepts require
different executions for square and round screens.</p>
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<h3>Use a common design language</h3>
<p>Try using a common set of colors, line weights, shading, and other design elements
to draw a visual connection between your square and round versions. By using similar color
palettes and a few consistent visual elements, the overall appearance of square and round
can be appropriately customized while still feeling like part of the same visual system.</p>
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<img src="{@docRoot}design/media/wear/ScreenShapes_Pyramids.png" width="400"
height="221" alt="" style="margin-top:-30px">
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<h3>Adjust for analog concepts</h3>
<p>Some of your concepts will naturally take the shape of an analog clock, like a center
dial with hour and minute hands. In this case, consider the corner areas that are exposed
when translating to a square format. Try extending and exploring this extra space.</p>
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<img src="{@docRoot}design/media/wear/Render_Ambient.png"
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<h2 id="DisplayModes">Plan for All Display Modes</h2>
<p>Android Wear devices operate in two main modes: ambient and interactive. Your watch face
designs should take these modes into account. Generally, if your watch face design looks great
in ambient mode, it will look even better in interactive mode. The opposite is not always
<h3>Interactive mode</h3>
<p>When the user moves their wrist to glance at their watch, the screen goes into interactive
mode. Your design can use full color with fluid animation in this mode.</p>
<h3>Ambient mode</h3>
<p>Ambient mode helps the device conserve power. Your design should make clear to the user that
the screen is in ambient mode. The background color scheme is <em>strictly limited</em> to black,
white, and grays. Your watch face may use some color elements on screens that support it
provided it is unambiguous that the device is in ambient mode. You can use color elements for up
to 5 percent of total pixels. In this mode, the screen is only updated once every minute. Only
show hours and minutes in ambient mode; do not show seconds. Your watch face is notified when
the device switches to ambient mode, and you should thoughtfully design for it.</p>
<h2 id="SpecialScreens">Optimize for Special Screens</h2>
<p>Android Wear devices feature a variety of screen technologies, each with their own advantages
and considerations. One important consideration when designing the ambient mode display for your
watch face is how it affects battery life and screen burn-in on some screens.
You can configure your watch face to display different ambient designs depending on the kind
of screen available on the device. Consider the best design for your watch faces on all
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<h3>Reduced color space</h3>
<p>Some displays use a reduced color space in ambient mode to save power.</p>
<p>One reduced color space power saving method is to use a "low-bit" mode. In low-bit mode,
the available colors are limited to black, white, blue, red, magenta, green, cyan, and yellow.
When designing for low-bit ambient mode, use a black or a white background. For OLED screens,
you must use a black background. Non-background pixels must be less than 10 percent of total
pixels. You can use low-bit color for up to 5 percent of pixels on screens that support it.
You should also disable antialiasing in your paint styles for this mode. Make sure to test
your design on devices with low-bit ambient mode.</p>
<p>Other displays save power in ambient mode by not producing any color. When designing for
displays which do not use color in ambient mode, the background may be either black or
<h3>Burn protection techniques</h3>
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<p>When designing for OLED screens, you should consider power efficiency and the screen
burn-in effect. When these screens are in ambient mode, the system shifts the contents of
the screen periodically by a few pixels to avoid pixel burn-in. Do not use large blocks of
pixels in your ambient mode designs and keep 95% of the pixels black. Replace solid shapes in
your regular ambient mode designs with outlined shapes in burn-protected ambient mode. Also
replace filled images with pixel patterns. For analog watch face designs, hollow out the center
where the hands meet to avoid pixel burn-in in this mode.</p>
<h2 id="SystemUI">Accomodate System UI Elements</h2>
<p>Your watch face designs should accommodate Android Wear UI elements. These elements give the
user the status of the wearable and show notifications from services on the user's phone. Try
to keep critical elements in your watch face designs from being obscured by the UI elements.</p>
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<img src="{@docRoot}design/media/wear/CardsRender_Build.png" width="200"
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<p>Cards are the notification system that bridges information between the wearable and a
mobile device. Cards are also how most applications communicate with users. The user will be
notified on the wearable about items such as emails and messages. As a watch face developer,
you need to accommodate both large and small cards in your design. Your watch face can specify a
preference for the card size, but users may override this setting. Users can also temporarily
hide cards by swiping down on them.</p>
<p>The peek card is the top card in the stream that is partially visible at the bottom of the
screen. A variable peek card has a height that is determined by the amount of text within a given
notification. A small peek card leaves more room for your design. Round faces with analog hands
should have a small peek card. If the time signature is clearly visible above the maximum height
of the variable peek card, you may choose to include the variable peek card. The benefit of a
variable peek card is that it displays more notification information. Faces with information on
the bottom half of the face should leverage the small peek card instead.</p>
<p>The system notifies your watch face when the bounds of a peek card change, so you can
rearrange the elements in your design if necessary.</p>
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<img src="{@docRoot}design/media/wear/Indicators_Cropped.png" width="200"
height="" alt="" style="margin-top:0px;margin-left:13px">
<p>Indicators tell the user the status of the wearable, such as charging and airplane mode.
When designing a watch face, consider how the indicator will fall over the watch face.</p>
<p>The indicators can be placed in several fixed locations on the wearable. If you have a
large peek card, the indicators should go on the top or on the center of the screen. When you
position the status icons or the hotword on the bottom of the screen, the system forces small
peek cards. If the edge of the watch face contains strong visual elements, such as
ticks or numbers, place the indicators on the center of the screen.</p>
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<img src="{@docRoot}design/media/wear/Hotword_Cropped.png" width="200"
height="" alt="" style="margin-top:0px;margin-left:13px">
<h3>The hotword</h3>
<p>The hotword is the phrase "OK Google", which tells the user that they can interact with
the watch using voice commands. When a user turns on the wearable, the hotword appears on
the screen for a few seconds.</p>
<p>The hotword no longer appears after the user says "OK Google" five times, so the placement of
this element is not as critical. You should still avoid covering up elements of your
watch face. Finally, background protection for the hotword and the indicators should be
turned on unless your design is tailored to have these elements appear on top of them, for example
using dark solid colors with no patterns.</p>
<p>For more information about measurements and positioning of system UI elements, see
<a href="#SpecsAssets">Specifications and Assets</a>.</p>
<h2 id="DataIntegration">Design Data-Integrated Watch Faces</h2>
<p>Your watch face can show users contextually relevant data and react to it by changing styles
and colors in your design.</p>
<h3>What do you want your user to know?</h3>
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<p>The first step in designing a data-integrated watch face is to define a conceptual user
outcome based on available data. First, generate a strong concept or outcome you believe is
supported by real user needs. What do you want your users to know after they have glanced
at your design? Once you have identified your outcome, you need to determine how to obtain
the required data.</p>
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<h3>A watch dial is a timeline; add data to it</h3>
<p>Your watch face concept may include use of data beyond time, such as weather, calendar
and fitness data. Consider the inclusion of data integration creatively. Avoid simply
overlaying a time-based watch face with extra data. Rather, think about how the data can
be expressed through the lens of time. For example, instead of designing a weather-related
watch face as a clock with an indication of the current temperature in degrees overlayed,
you might design a watch face that describes how the temperature will change over the
course of the day.</p>
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<img src="{@docRoot}design/media/wear/Render_Albumem.png" width="200"
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<h3>Stick to one message</h3>
<p>Once you have solidified your conceptual direction or desired outcome, you will need to
begin visualizing your watch face. The strongest watch face designs are highly glanceable
and deliver a singular expression of data. In order to identify your singular message, you
must identify the most important supporting data point. For instance, instead of displaying
an entire month of calendar events, you might decide to display only the next
upcoming event. By a process of reduction, you should arrive at a powerful singular
expression of data to include in your design.</p>
<h3>Begin with some insight and test as you go</h3>
<p>Make sure your approach begins with insight into the needs and expectations of your users.
Test your designs with users to check any assumptions you might have made about your design along
the way. Try making a rough sketch on paper and asking a friend to tell you what it means.
Try your concept out with lots of different types of data and scenarios. Test your designs
with an actual watch screen before you start coding.</p>
<h2 id="interactive">Design Interactive Watch Faces</h2>
<p>Your watch face can respond to a single-tap gesture from the user, as long as
there’s not another UI element that also responds to that gesture. Some possible use cases for
interacting with the watch face include:</p>
<li><strong>Causing an aesthetic change</strong> on the watch face, for example inverting
the color scheme.</li>
<li><strong>Showing more information</strong> inline on the watch face, for example displaying a
detailed step count.</li>
<li><strong>Completing an action</strong> inline or in the background, for example starting a
<li><strong>Launching a specific activity,</strong> for example a starting a conversation in a
messaging application.</li>
<h3 id="ag">Available gestures</h3>
<p>Only single taps are available. This restriction is important for maintaining clear and
consistent system interactions, and for making watch face interactions as simple as
possible: Neither you nor the user should think of watch faces as full-fledged apps. Figure 1
summarizes the categories of gestures, and their uses.</p>
<img src="{@docRoot}design/media/wear/available_gestures.png"
srcset="{@docRoot}design/media/wear/available_gestures.png 1x,
{@docRoot}design/media/wear/available_gestures_2x.png 2x"
alt="Single tap is the only available gesture." width="740" height="" id="available-gestures" />
<p class="img-caption">
<strong>Figure 1.</strong> Available, reserved, and blocked gestures.
As a rule, watch-face interaction should be lightweight, with the user completing their desired
action within one or two touches.
<h3>Tap targets</h3>
<p>If you want to cause a simple state change on the watch face, such as a purely aesthetic
change, you can use the entire canvas of the watch face as the tap target.</p>
<p>For a more significant change or action, such as launching an activity or sending a message to a
friend, it’s important to keep targets smaller, between 48-90 dpi, to avoid false-positive taps.
There should be a gap between targets of at least 8-16 dpi. For an optimized tappable experience,
display a maximum of 7 to 9 targets at once.</p>
<h3 id=”areas”>Tap regions</h3>
<p>You can also use different regions of the screen to trigger different changes to the watch face.
For example, tapping on the entire canvas could toggle states for the entire face. Tapping a specific target
could produce an inline display of information related to the target. Last, tapping outside the
target could restore the watch face to its default state.</p>
<div style="float:right;margin-bottom:20px;margin-left:20px">
<img src="/design/media/wear/visual_feedback.gif" width="200"
height="196" alt="The watch face should show where the user’s finger has made contact." style="margin-top:-10px;margin-left:13px">
<h3>Visual feedback</h3>
<p>Provide visual feedback when the user’s finger touches down on the watch face. The tap
event does not trigger until the user lifts their finger, but visual feedback on touchdown helps
indicate that the system has received the touch, and also helps the user know where the touch
<p class=”warning”><strong>Warning:</strong> Do not immediately launch a UI on touchdown. A UI that
you launch on touchdown conflicts with gestures for interacting with system UI elements including
the watch face picker, notification stream, settings shade, and app launcher.</p>
<h3>Design examples</h3>
Here are some examples of approaches for interactive watch faces:
<h4>Applying an aesthetic change</h4>
<img src="{@docRoot}design/media/wear/aesthetic.png"
alt="" width="686" height="" id="descriptive-id" />
<h4>Toggling states</h4>
<img src="{@docRoot}design/media/wear/toggling-states.png"
alt="" width="686" height="" id="descriptive-id" />
<h4>Changing a targeted UI element</h4>
<img src="{@docRoot}design/media/wear/changing-target.png"
alt="" width="686" height="" id="descriptive-id" />
<h4>Revealing information inline</h4>
<img src="{@docRoot}design/media/wear/revealing-info.png"
alt="" width="686" height="" id="descriptive-id" />
<h4>Launching an activity with a single tap</h4>
<img src="{@docRoot}design/media/wear/1-tap-launch.png"
alt="" width="751" height="" id="descriptive-id" />
<h4>Launching an activity with two taps</h4>
<img src="{@docRoot}design/media/wear/2-tap-launch.png"
alt="" width="751" height="" id="descriptive-id" />
<h2 id="CompanionApp">Support the Android Wear Companion App</h2>
<p>The Android Wear companion app gives the user access to all installed watch faces and their
<div style="margin:0 auto;width:600px">
<img src="{@docRoot}design/media/wear/CompanionApp_Build.png" width="350"
height="" alt="" style="">
<img src="{@docRoot}design/media/wear/DeviceSettings_Build.png" width="200"
height="" alt="" style="">
<h3>Don't use a launcher icon</h3>
<p>All available watch faces are accessible from the Android Wear companion app or from your
bundled third party app. There is no need for a stand-alone launcher icon for Android Wear
watch faces.</p>
<p>Each watch face that has useful settings can have a Settings panel, accessible from the
watch itself and from the companion app on the phone. Standard UI components work in most cases,
but you can explore other creative executions once you have built a foundation designing watch
<p>Settings on the watch should be limited to binary selections or scrollable lists. Settings
on the phone may include any complex configuration items in addition to the settings
available on the watch.</p>
<h2 id="SpecsAssets">Specifications and Assets</h2>
<p>To obtain watch face design examples and detailed measurements for the system UI elements, see
the <a href="{@docRoot}design/downloads/index.html#Wear">Design Downloads for Android Wear</a>.</p>