Request permissions on Wear OS

Requesting permissions on Wear OS is similar to requesting permissions in mobile apps, with a couple of additional use cases. This document assumes you understand how Android permissions work. If you don’t, review how permissions work on Android.

Just like in a mobile app, the user must grant permissions to a Wear app for access to certain functionality. In your Wear apps, provide meaningful functionality without requesting any permissions.

Permission scenarios

There are several scenarios you might encounter when requesting dangerous permissions on Wear OS:

  • The Wear app requests permissions for an app running on the wearable device.

  • The Wear app requests permissions for an app running on the phone.

  • The phone app requests permissions for an app running on the wearable device.

  • The phone app requests multiple permissions that can be used only while the wearable device is connected.

To see all these scenarios in a working app, review the ExcersizeSampleCompose sample on GitHub.

The following sections explain each of these scenarios. For more detailed information about requesting permissions, see the Permission-request patterns section.

Wear app requests wearable permission

When the Wear app requests a permission for an app running on the wearable device, the system displays a dialog to prompt the user for that permission. In your app, request permissions only when it is clear to the user why the permissions are needed to perform a given operation.

Review the permission principles to make sure you provide the best experience for your users, and remember to check shouldShowRequestPermissionRationale() and provide additional information as needed.

If an app or watch face requires more than one permission at a time, permission requests appear one after the other.

Multiple permission screens, one after another.
Figure 1. Permission screens appearing in succession.

Wear app requests phone permission

When the Wear app requests a phone permission—for example, a wearable app wants access to photos or other sensitive data on the mobile version of the app—the Wear app must send the user to the phone to accept the permission. There, the phone app can provide additional information to the user, using an activity. In the activity, include two buttons: one for granting the permission and one for denying it.

The Wear app sends the user to the phone to grant permission.
Figure 2. Send the user to the phone to grant permission.

Phone app requests wearable permission

If the user is in a phone app and the app requires a wearable permission—for example, to preload music in case the phone gets disconnected—the phone app sends the user to the wearable device to accept the permission. The wearable version of the app uses the requestPermissions() method to trigger the system permissions dialog.

The phone app sends the user to the wearable to grant permission.
Figure 3. Send the user to the wearable to grant permission.

Phone app requests multiple permissions at once

Figure 4. A permissions dialog that uses a companion device profile to request multiple permissions in a single request.

Partner apps on Android 12 (API level 31) and higher can use companion device profiles when connecting to a watch. Using a profile simplifies the enrollment process by bundling the granting of a device-type-specific set of permissions into one step.

The bundled permissions are granted to the companion app once the device connects, and last only while the device is associated. Deleting the app or removing the association removes the permissions. For details, see AssociationRequest.Builder.setDeviceProfile().

Permission-request patterns

There are different patterns for requesting permissions from users. In order of priority, they are:

  • Ask in context when the permission is obviously necessary for a specific functionality but isn't necessary for the app as a whole to run.

  • Educate in context when the reason for requesting the permission isn't obvious and the permission isn't necessary for the app as a whole to run.

These patterns are explained in the following sections.

Ask in context

Request permissions when it is clear to the user why the permission is needed to perform a given operation. Users are more likely to grant a permission when they understand its connection to the feature they want to use.

For example, an app might require the user’s location to show nearby places of interest. When the user taps to search for nearby places, the app can immediately request the location permission because there is a clear relationship between searching for nearby places and the need for the location permission. The obviousness of this relationship makes it unnecessary for the app to display additional education screens.

The app requests permission when it's obviously necessary.
Figure 5. Ask for a permission in context.

Educate in context

Figure 6 shows an example of in-context education. The app doesn't require permissions to start the timer, but an inline educational cue shows that part of the activity—location detection—is locked. When the user taps the cue, a permission-request screen appears, letting the user unlock location detection.

Use the shouldShowRequestPermissionRationale() method to help your app decide whether to provide more information. For additional details, see Request app permissions. Alternatively, you can examine how the speaker sample application on GitHub handles showing information.

When the need for the permission arises, the app explains why the permission is necessary.
Figure 6. Educate in context.

Handle rejection

If the user denies a requested permission that isn't critical to an intended activity, don't block them from continuing the activity. If certain parts of the activity are disabled by the denied permission, provide visual, actionable feedback.

Figure 7 shows the use of a lock icon to indicate that a feature is locked because the user didn't grant permission to use it.

When the user denies permission, a lock icon is shown alongside the associated feature.
Figure 7. Lock icon showing that a feature is locked because of denied permission.

When a previously denied wearable permission dialog appears a second time, it includes a Deny, don't show again option. If the user chooses this option, then the only way for them to grant this permission in the future is to go into the wearable's Settings app.

The system offers to stop requesting permission.
Figure 8. The user can access a permission request that has previously been denied twice through Settings.

Learn more about how to handle permission denial.

Permissions for services

Only an activity can call the requestPermissions() method, so if the user interacts with your app using a service—for example, through a watch face—the service must open an activity before requesting the permission. In this activity, provide additional education on why the permission is needed.

In general, don't request permissions for a watch face. Instead, implement a complication and let the user choose which data to display through the complication.


A user can change a Wear app’s permissions in Settings at any time. When the user tries to do something that requires a permission, first call the checkSelfPermission() method to see whether the app has permission to perform the operation.

Perform this check even if the user has previously granted the permission, because the user might have subsequently revoked it.

The user can change permissions through the Settings app.
Figure 9. The user can change permissions using the Settings app.