Wear OS | To add developer Tiles
Google seems to be close to beefing up the competence of its ’tiles’ feature in Wear OS by removing the number that can be added and allowing 3rd party tiles.
Tiles are a recent addition, just over a year old, but an important one. I’ll explain why.
Watch Faces & Tiles
Tiles are a kind of watch face but one which you would probably only temporarily swipe to in order to see, for example, the weather. In Wear OS it’s actually pretty easy to swipe to a tile and access such information and the EASE at which this can be done within the Wear ecosystem boosts the user experience.
Contrast tiles to Watch OS. With an Apple Watch 6, you have to curate an entire watch face and then press and swipe a few times to ‘permanently’ change the watch face. When you have done with that watch face you have to change back. Apple’s approach does have benefits but it IS more longwinded if you have several features (like weather) that you want to periodically access.
Garmin is different again with left-side button access to widgets which each perform a similar task to a tile. That button access works well if you are wearing gloves but it is more longwinded then either of the alternative approaches by Apple or Wear OS. That said, Garmin’s widget glances give you a quick overview of key widget info as you scroll over them and, in some case, that is a superior user experience to Apple/Wear OS.
Of course, you can physically change rich watchfaces too with Garmin
On the whole though, for smartwatch users, I’d say Wear OS offers the best way to quickly see a diverse range of at-a-glance information
The Problem With Tiles
The problems with the TILES in Wear OS are twofold. Firstly you can only have 5 of them and secondly, you have to use the one kindly supplied by Google. That latter example is only generally true as the are limited exceptions, for example, Suunto had a custom tile or two on the awesome Suunto 7, which uses Wear OS.
The Solution for Tiles
Well, the first problem has already gone away and Google removed the 5-tile limit in 2020.
From the link, below, in GoogleSource it seems that 3rd party developers will soon be allowed to create custom tiles. That’s all we know so far!
On a superficial level, this might seem trivial to you but it IS important usability functionality for Google to add.
Moreover, additional powerful features can be linked. For example, Apple already allows users to share watch faces. “Whoopydoo!” you shout 😉 however, a watch face in Watch OS also can include complications and complications are tied to apps. Thus a pretty watch face can be used as a means of distributing a prompt to a new user to download your app…just sayin’. Think about it.
You can bet your bottom dollar that Fossil will be making good use of this in their Gen 6 Wear OS watches later this year which probably will also be running the new, more powerful SnapDragon 4100/4100+ processor. Hopefully, 2021 will mark a resurgence in Wear OS’s fortunes.