Introduction to Watch Face mode

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Bubble Cloud

Bubble Cloud is both a widget app, and an app for Wear OS watches.

If you weren’t offered the option to install on your watch, that’s usually because your watch is not compatible.

My app is only compatible with Wear OS watches. Samsung Gear watches use a different operating system (Tizen). GT08, DZ09 and similar Android watches have the regular version of Android intended for phones. Google created the WearOS system specifically for watches.

If you need help setting up the app on your phone or tablet please see the next post:


Want to use my app on your Wear OS watch?

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My app is 100% compatible with all Wear OS watches:
  • Mobvoi TicWatch models
  • Google’s Pixel Watch
  • Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and 5 (but not earlier Tizen based models)
  • Moto 360 models
  • Fossil watches
  • Suunto Wear OS watches
  • Casio smartwatches
  • Tag Heuer smartwatches
  • Polar M600
  • older Huawei Watch 1 and 2 (but no “GT” models after 2017!)
  • and others (see the full list here)

Older Samsung Galaxy watches use their proprietary Tizen operating system. They are not compatible with Wear OS by Google. Only the Galaxy Watch 4 and newer!

Other (inexpensive) “Android compatible” smartwatches usually have Android (7.1) which is intended for phones, not for watches. They are not Wear OS either. Read more on the subject here:!msg/android-wear/6Af6xFwxapA/svRCzWxSDQAJ

Please read the following post if you want to use Bubble Clouds on your watch: Watch face mode

Let me know if you have a Wear OS watch that I can help with.

Tizen Alternative

If you have a Samsung Gear watch, I found this Tizen app that does something similar on Gear watches:

Please see this post for more Tizen alternatives:

Huawei GT

Huawei GT watches don’t have the Wear OS operating system, they are not compatible with my app. After the first two watches they switched to their own operating system, which does not allow user apps:

  • 2016 Huawei Watch (Wear OS) → Compatible 🙂
  • 2017 Huawei Watch 2 (Wear OS) → Compatible 🙂
  • 2018 Huawei Watch GT (Lite OS) → NOT compatible 🙁
  • 2019 Huawei Watch GT 2 (Lite OS) → NOT compatible 🙁

Wear OS watches


The base idea of Bubble Cloud is very simple: every app that you have on your watch appear as bubbles in a mini-launcher. You can set this cloud of bubbles as your watch face, or access it in various ways if you rather use a different watch face.

You can long press bubbles and select which cloud you want the given app in:

  • favorites (your most used apps)
  • archive (rest of the apps)
  • folder (you can create as many folders as you want)
  • hidden (nowhere – apps you don’t need)

If used as watch face, these favorite bubbles are your watch face. If you don’t want the bubbly look, you can install 1-click themes to change the way the favorite cloud appears on your watch face.

No other app does anything similar, but this is not that complex or hard to understand.

How to use

You can use Bubble Clouds on your watch in either of two modes:
  1. Together with any watch face in “App drawer mode”  (follow link for more information)
  2. Set as the watch face

Watch face mode is where Bubble Cloud can show its full power:

Here is the up-to-date feature list (⌚ marked items only available in watch face mode): Full feature list (part of the knowledge base – a work in progress)

Watch face mode

In this mode the app drawer is just a horizontal swipe away (just like it was in Android Wear 1.x) and the new Quick Swipe Panel shows up in the settings!

You can see the whole list of analog and digital watch face themes under “Free theme weekly” and download theme packs from the Play Store:

Getting started with Watch Face mode

Here are a few watch face related posts which will hopefully make it easier to get started:

Active vs. inactive vs. ambient screen

The Bubble Cloud watch face works in three modes:

  • Active mode – when swipes and long presses are captured by Bubble Clouds
  • Inactive mode – when only taps are captured by Bubble Clouds, long press and swipes are handled by Wear OS
  • Ambient mode – “Always on” mode, when no input is handled, except to wake the watch
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 (or system app drawer on Galaxy Watch 4)
  • long press to pick a different face
  • swipe horizontally for Tiles, the Google Assistant or Samsung notifications
Opposite of these, the active mode lets you access the Bubble Cloud features:
We can switch between active 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 active 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 active mode.
You can change this behavior with the following settings:
  1. On the watch:
    • Option “Touch control priority”  has now been promoted to the main settings screen.
    • New option “Inactive watch face” only appears in the main settings screen if it is set to “Low power mode” (default of existing users). Otherwise this option is in the Expert section (under “More options”).
  2. On the phone: “Primary touch control” section added where you can choose whether Bubble Cloud or Wear OS gestures should be the primary controls.“Inactive”, because Bubble Cloud is inactive when Wear OS handles the touches.You can also choose how the watch face should look in this inactive mode. If you choose to make it look like the active mode, little indicator arrows will show up in the non-primary mode:

The following video explains this in detail

For more information please see the post

Look and feel

There are a hundred themes to choose from in 13 theme packs, and we can combine these for infinite variations, not to mention the ability to use our own graphic assets for analog hands, dials, backgrounds and bubble images. Here are a few posts on the app’s website that will help you start:

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 watchface. 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

B) Notifications

In Android Wear 1.5 the system notified watch faces when so called peek-cards appeared and Bubble Clouds was able to reduce the size of the overlay to show the peek cards.
Peek cards are gone in standard Android Wear 2.0 and the notification pop ups appear only for a brief few seconds. If the ambient watchface is shown or while using other apps you will be able to see the pop ups, but the active bubble cloud overlay covers it.

C) Possible workarounds

There are several things that can be done:


This plugin for bubble clouds adds notification icons to your watch face (or app drawer / folder) to indicate active notifications on your phone. The number of these status icons can change dynamically as more and more notifications come in:
When tapped these notifications are displayed and can be interacted with:
You can install the notification icons plugin from the Bubble Cloud app on your phone:
I made several videos about this new way to manage notifications from Bubble Clouds:

PEEK CARDS in Android Wear 2.9

Bubble Clouds has a card-type complication which now allows you to display long-text complications (such active notifications!) in the peek-card format that Android Wear 1.5 used to have. You can add

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If using Bubble Clouds as your watch face you can add the peek card using the “Add complication” menu item:

Screenshot_1524915548.png Screenshot_1525069833.png

Make sure to select “Recent notification” under the “General” group:

Screenshot_1525069837.png Screenshot_1525069839.png Screenshot_1525069854.png

D) Other possible solutions

If for some reason you don’t like the peek cards, you can still do some things:
1. Switch the “Notification preview” style to “Always show”:
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2. place an “unread count” complication on the watchface to be able to tell when new messages are available:
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(Screenshot shows 1 unread message with the little bell icon)  [Theme from pack #7]
Open bubble cloud settings and tap “Add complication”
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Select General → Unread notification count. Then press the star to move it to the watchface (favorites)

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It is also recommended to enable the wrist gestures in Wear OS, so you could check your notifications without touching your watch:
Version 9.37 brought full gesture support to the active watch face too, so if you use Bubble Cloud as your watch face, you will be able to show and hide even the peek card using wrist gestures.
wrist gestures.gif  
Peek cards and wrist gestures make the default WearOS notification previews unnecessary: I recommend setting your notification previews to “none”.
2018-09-13 09_00_47-Android Emulator - Android_Wear_Round_API_26_5554.png 2018-09-13 08_59_10-Android Emulator - Android_Wear_Round_API_26_5554.png
Please note: Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4 does not support wrist gestures at the system level, but I have re-implemented this functionality in the Bubble Cloud watch face: Wrist gestures (even on Galaxy Watch 4!)

Author: greg

the dev