The Android Wear platform is built firmly around Google’s Now notification-centric personal assistant service, but there’s a lot more that it can do if you dig a little deeper. Read on as we highlight some of the best apps for Android Wear.
Wear Mini Launcher
While Android Wear is great at showing you notifications and useful info right when you need it, it falls a little short when it comes to basic menu navigation. Wear Mini Launcher makes it significantly easier to jump into apps and quickly adjust settings. A swipe from the edge of the display gives you quick access to an app drawer and settings menu.
You can customize the look of the new panels, and set the size and number of icon rows for the app tray. The settings menu lets you adjust display brightness, but also provides access to smartphone settings including sound profile, audio volume and wireless connection.
Wear Mini Launcher (free)
Runtastic and RunKeeper
Android Wear will automatically track your steps and, if your watch allows it, heart rate. But that’s as far as its stock fitness credentials go. If you’re looking for a little more functionality in this category, there are quite a few Android Wear-enabled fitness apps out there.
Rival apps Runtastic and RunKeeper are two of the more full-featured choices, offering support for a range of sports and giving the user access to key stats such as session duration and distance traveled. You can head into the full smartphone apps to choose a sport or activity and customize the metrics displayed on the watch.
Runtastic (free - includes in-app purchases)
RunKeeper (free - includes in-app purchases)
Wear Aware is one of the simpler apps on this list, but it’s also one of the most useful. If you walk away from your tethered smartphone, the app will display an alert and vibrate your wrist. It acts as a useful safeguard against losing your phone when you’re out and about, or simply forgetting to pick it up when you leave the house.
The app also acts as a “find my phone” tool, playing an alarm on your smartphone when you open the software on your watch.
Wear Aware (free)
Allthecooks was one of the first apps to offer Android Wear support, and it’s a great tool for cookery buffs. Dive into the app on the smartphone and pick a recipe, click the “open on watch” button and you’ll get a card-based, step-by-step walkthrough right on your wrist – complete with built-in timers.
Wear Camera Remote
While none of the current crop of Android Wear smartwatches offers built-in shooters, Wear Camera lets you control your tethered smartphone’s camera, while getting a live feed of what it sees. Tapping the watch will take a picture and holding a finger on the display starts a timer. You can switch between front and rear cameras, and toggle the flash on and off.
During our testing, we found there was a bit of a delay between tapping the screen and the picture being taken, and the live feed on the smartwatch suffers from lag and lacks clarity. That said, it’s a simple, fun tool that’s worth playing around with.
Wear Camera Remote (free)
Evernote for Android Wear
You can download Evernote's Android Wear app to dictate notes from your watch, as well as get smartwatch access to recent notes, nearby notes and your to-do list. The app will show time and location-relevant notes on your wrist, and allows you to search through notes using voice.
You can also check off items on your to-do list, and pull up a note on your smartwatch by opening it on the connected smartphone and then locking that device.
Evernote for Android Wear (free)
Language learning app Duolingo lets you extend its intuitive lessons to your wrist by providing short touch-based daily quizzes. The functionality here isn’t standalone, but it’s a great way to get your learning fix without pulling out the full app.
While it's still early days for Android Wear, the list of apps has been growing fairly steadily since its July launch. What did we miss? Which apps do you use the most? Drop us a line in the comments below.