Android Wear devices have small batteries, and software optimization makes all the difference when it comes to power conservation. AMOLED screens are one way some Android Wear OEMs boost battery life: Because AMOLED displays display black by switching off individual pixels, black backgrounds and watch faces save power. That’s one of the reasons why Android Wear’s screensaver-like ambient mode displays a black and white watch face, but strangely enough, most of Android Wear’s menus and options screens are grey instead of black. That might change in Android Wear 2.8, though.
As can be seen in screenshots provided by /u/Yozakgg on Reddit, Android Wear 2.8 brings a new system-wide black theme. In a support page announcing the change, Google says that it’s meant to improve visibility, which is a somewhat common complaint of Android Wear devices — some watch screens don’t get bright enough to overcome sunlight and direct light. The official changelog also mentions a new compact notification design that shows “more of […] messages at a glance”.
Android Wear 2.8 Changelog
- This new update has improved notification glanceability with a new layout which shows more of your message at a glance.
- We have also made the background darker for better readability.
The update is rolling out via the Android Wear companion app for Android (version 18.104.22.168439970), but some users are reporting that they aren’t seeing the new black theme. There’s a chance it might be an A/B test that Google’s only rolling out to some users — the only smartwatch known to have received it so far is the Huawei Watch 2 (pictured above).
Once the new Android Wear app installs on a smartphone that’s paired with your Android Wear smartwatch, you should see the black theme as soon as your watch updates to Android Wear version 22.214.171.124612071. You won’t find a toggle for the old gray-colored theme, unfortunately — once you get the update, there’s no going back.