Google is making a bit of noise about something that users may have presumed has actually been the case even when Wear OS by Google was known by a different name: Android Wear. The Android maker is now giving smartwatch app developers a heads up to tell them that starting next month, all new Wear OS apps are required to undergo a review process before being listed on the Google Play Store. This is to ensure the quality of apps that should really be a primary concern in the first place.
For new Wear OS apps, the mandatory review process will take effect on October 1. For apps that are already on the Play Store, their turn will come on March 4 next year. Either way, Google wants developers to make sure their smartwatch apps are presentable, at least on the Play Store.
It actually isn’t changing the criteria it has for the quality of these apps, only that know they will be reviewed explicitly. Criteria such as having screenshots on Google Play Store and making sure that apps take into account different screen sizes and shapes are still in full effect. Of course, these are the same things developers should have been practicing right from the start.
Google assures app developers that this only affects Wear OS app submissions. For Android smartphone apps, nothing changes and they can still be listed even if their accompanying Wear OS app actually fails the review.
It is rather interesting that Google is somewhat moving away from its preferred “hands-off” process, at least for smartwatch apps. Some will argue that this should have been the case even for mobile apps, but, admittedly, it will be difficult to do so now without dropping a large portion of the Google Play Store’s population. Hopefully this review process will indeed make the relatively few Wear OS apps even better and not drive away developers instead.