States: active, inactive, ambient

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Active vs. inactive vs. ambient screen

The Bubble Cloud Watch Face works in three modes:
  • Interactive mode – when swipes and long presses are captured by Bubble Clouds
  • Inactive mode – when only taps are captured by Bubble Clouds
  • Ambient mode – “Always on” mode, when no input is handled by Bubble Clouds
We need the inactive mode, because that’s where the standard Wear OS touch features can be accessed:
  • swipe down for the quick toggles
  • swipe up for the notifications
  • long press to pick a different face
  • swipe horizontally for Google Assistant and Google Fit (these can be disabled in Expert settings, see below)
Opposite of these, the active mode lets you access the Bubble Cloud features:
  • open apps and other bubbles
  • swipe horizontally for the app drawer (and Quick Swipe Panel if enabled)
  • swipe vertically to show/hide peek card
  • long press bubbles to edit them
We can switch between interactive and inactive by tapping on the clock bubble. The watch enters ambient mode just like any other Wear OS watch face after a timeout.
By default the watch face enters interactive mode when you wake the watch. If you want to access the standard Wear OS swipe (and long press) action, you will need to tap on the clock bubble to exit interactive mode.
You can change this behaviour in two ways:
  1. Make the inactive mode the dominant by disabling the expert option “Priority for Active cloud”
    Screenshot_1543390940.png Screenshot_1543391113.png
    The watch will stay in inactive mode (swipes and long presses are handled by the OS) until you tap on the clock bubble
  2. Override the horizontal swipes even in inactive mode using one or both of two other expert options:

    Screenshot_1543391183.png Screenshot_1543391187.png
    If you enable these options swiping horizontally on the inactive watch face will enter interactive mode, hence overriding the default WearOS functions (Assistant and/or Fit)
Horizontal swipes in interactive mode:
  • By default swiping left to right on the watch face in interactive mode takes you to the app drawer (archive cloud) and optionally the brightness control
  • You can add a swipe area on the right to left swipe to access voice search (Google Assistant) and optionally the volume control. This is called Quick Swipe Panel in my app → see video below
You can switch left and right (move the app drawer to the right) and also you can assign any other action to the Quick Swipe Panel, as explained in the video:

A) A little background

In order to achieve the convenience of swiping sideways for the app drawer Bubble Cloud needs to add a layer on top of the regular watch face. I call it the “Active mode” when this layer is shown. You can tap icons to open apps, swipe sideways for the brightness control and the app drawer, long press bubbles for various extra options.

I call it “inactive” or “ambient” mode when this layer is hidden. In the inactive screen you can access all the regular watch face functionality: swipe down for the quick settings, swipe up to access notifications, sideways to switch watch faces.

We can toggle between active and inactive by tapping the clock bubble, and  recently I also added vertical swipe gestures too to switch between the two modes. So the first vertical swipe will toggle to inactive, then the regular Wear OS functionality kicks in. This is still not ideal, but maybe a little bit more intuitive to swipe twice instead of a tap-and-swipe.

Depending on the watch-face layout, you can even toggle the position of the hands and bubbles on the watch face. Tapping outside the ring of bubbles will bring the bubbles to the foreground (even over the peek card), Tapping again, or tapping in the center of the watch face will switch to inactive mode: (I call this the “reveal” mode)

[Theme shown is from pack #4]

Unfortunately there is no other way to implement all this increased functionality. Hopefully understanding how it works makes it easier to use.

There are advantages to having this two-layer architecture in Bubble Clouds:
  • we get to override the horizontal swipe to change watch face
  • we get notification peek cards (see below)
  • we get unlimited number of watch face complications which can even be put in the archive cloud and folders
  • the Bubble Cloud watch face is extremely battery friendly, our watches will last longer than with other watch faces
    (except that your watch becomes more useful, and since you will be using it for more…)
  • you can apply many different watch face styles I call “1-click themes”, and even mix different components of these themes
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Author: greg

the dev