Android Wear is the official smartphone companion app from Google, which helps you connect and manage your new LG G Watch, Samsung Gear Live, Moto 360, or whatever comes down the pipe. Just as the Android Wear user experience will be the same on watches that use it, this one makes setting things up and managing them from the app all the easier. Once things are connected, you can set up what and how certain functions alert you on the watch, along with controlling voice action preferences.
The aptly-named Apps for Wear serves as a one-stop shop for curated apps, tailored to your LG, Samsung or other wearable. It currently features more than 300 apps, how-to guides, tips and tricks, so it's definitely a must if you are new to the world of Android Wear (and who isn't yet).
Android wouldn't be the same without launchers, and that holds double true for Android Wear devices, where it is easy to lose count of what apps you've installed, and where they are. The Wear Mini Launcher comes to the rescue, allowing you to launch any app from anywhere.
You also get access to some quick settings with a double swipe gesture - you can change the brightness of your wear device, toggle Wi-Fi, the ring mode of your phone, and make it ring to find where you placed the handset.
The small screens of the Android Wear gear are not really conducive to showing big fat notifications like on your phone, so until an icon is buried somewhere in the menu, you won't even know you've installed something. Enter Wear Apps Tracker - an app that follows other apps you install, and notifies you of their existence, when they get updated, or when they get discarded by you. The app, as most Android Wear pieces, is still in its nascence, so expect more features to be rounded up down the road.
Google might think that we are all content with talking to our watches like we are nuts in the head, but oftentimes this input method is neither practical, nor possible in the situation we are in. The excellent Minuum keyboard comes to the rescue here. The concept is minimalism, as it is the only keyboard in the Play Store that is tailored to use with the limited screen space on wearables like smartwatches, and even Google Glass. As a pleasant side effect, it takes up less than half the screen space of regular keyboards on your phone, too, freeing up valuable screen real estate for something else, while still allowing you to type fast and inaccurate as always, flaunting an auto-correction mechanism that rivals the one of SwiftKey.
The learning curve is steeper than with the more orthodox keyboards so far, but it only takes a little while to get used to, and then saves you a bunch of screen space for multitasking, plus the more you type, the better Minuum gets. Unfortunately, it is paid after the 30-day free trial, as most good things are, and doesn't sport a whole lot of language support for now, but the most popular ones are covered.
If you tried the Wear browser a few weeks ago, and didn't like it, give it a chance now, as it's been greatly improved, and makes the browsing experience as good as it gets on the tiny Android Wear device screens. You will get Chrome sync with quick import of your bookmarks and history, and can open links from your phone's browser via the Share option. Moreover, you get most basics, like touch scrolling, a back button, and pinch to zoom. As usual with Android Wear apps, voice commands are emphasized with the ability to dictate to enter text, or do a voice search from your smartwatch.
How about some Evernote on your watch? Yep, the ultra popular notes and task list app has an Android Wear offspring, and it is very, very good, perhaps one of the most thought-out apps for the new Google-powered wearables. It lets you create or search for notes with your voice, syncs with what's on your phone, and opens the note on your watch immediately after you've locked the phone's screen, too. You can find notes based on your current location, or cross items off your to-do list on the watch itself.
We can't remember how many times we've had to quickly plug in some numbers, and get a calculation we can't do in our head. Remember those old electronic watches that had a tiny calculator buttons? Well, the Android Wear Calculator serves the same function, and fits whatever display shape you are carrying - round, square, or rectangular - with simple, as well as more sophisticated math functions.
You get a nice little phone-synced calendar view for your Android Wear device with a tailored minimalistic interface, and a free monthly view. If you want to get the daily and detailed views, you'd have to shell out two bucks, though.
No matter how good you are living, you'd still have to dial out and talk with someone, you know, on the phone, every now and then. Having a smartwatch on your wrist soothes the pain somewhat, especially if you have the Speed Dial for Android Wear installed - you can quickly access your favorite or most recent contacts, dial out from the comfort of your wrist, and talk through the phone's speaker, or a Bluetooth headset.
The interface might be rather crappy still, but if you want to use your Android Wear watch as a flash drive, get or send files and photos to your phone, this tiny File Manager is for you. There are built-in file structure, text, photo and slideshow viewers here, too.
Your Android Wear gear is great for crossing items off a shopping list, when you think about it. Tickit lets you do just that - view tasks and to-do lists you created on your phone, and then quickly tick items off without having to even take the phone out of your pocket.
PixtoCam is one of the best apps to control your phone's cameras from afar with your Android Wear gear. You can use your watch as a viewfinder, change cameras, rotate the image, zoom, and fire up both still and video recording from your wrist. Perfect for group portraits, as it also has a self-timer function, plus it works regardless if your phone's screen is off or not.
Well, you might think that this is a pretty basic app, but when the steady light glow from your Android Wear watch chips away at your sleep at night, you'd be thankful that someone created a way to black out the Android Wear device's screen - something that's not built into the system just yet. Simply install the app and set your device in its charger, and the screen will remain dark until you pick the watch up again, or tap the screen.
A fun little Watch Face app is out to help you drain your battery faster. We kid, but it's called GIF Watch Face and what sets it apart is – you guessed it – GIF wallpapers. What makes it more special is the fact that it gives you a brand new image each time you wake the screen. The app downloads 100 GIFs from Giphy.com, when first launched. Then, it picks a random image to show from that pool, each time the display lights up.
The choice of Android Wear watch faces just got big with the release of Wear Face Collection. Available in the Google Play Store, this app can put at least 15 custom watch-faces on your Samsung Gear Live, LG G Watch, or Motorola 360 if you are lucky enough to have it. After the app is installed on your phone, it will automatically install itself on the watch too. Long-press on your watch-face and select "wear face collection". That should get things going, but if it doesn't, there's another option. Open the app on your smartphone, select the desired theme, and tap "push to watch".
Wear Hotspot is one of these apps that emphasise on the synergy that your Android smartphone has (or should have) with your Android Wear smartwatch. What it does is, it allows you to toggle your phone's tethering on/off from a virtual button on your wearable. It is a fairly simple function, yet saves you the trouble of reaching for your phone and tapping through a few settings.
The app can be activated via verbally telling the watch to "open Wear Hotspot", or navigating to its icon and launching it manually. The latter may be necessary, since users have been commenting that their smartwatches often mistake the word "wear" for "where" and refuse to open the desired app. Developer Rabid App Design has promised to look into that.
Speaking of comments – the app is in its very early stages and so far there isn't a comprehensive list of what phones it works with. A lot of users have reported it to not function as desired on their smartphones. Still, the developers claim they are hard at work ironing out any bugs, and support for more devices should increase.
If you wish to test it, make sure that your provider has not placed any restrictions regarding tethering on your smartphone. Then, go ahead and download it from the link. If any problems should arise – one shouldn't hesitate to contact Rabid App Design, as they seem determined to take customer support and feedback very seriously.
Ok, we admit that this one is far-fetched, because, well, how many of us own a Tesla Model S, but we are adding it as a bonus, to demonstrate the endless possibilities that open up with a simple Android Wear watch on your wrist. The Tesla Command app can lock/unlock the doors, open/close the sunroof, and honk the horn of the car. These are all done via swipe and touch on the smartwatch's screen, so for those of you who were quick to start dreaming about voice-controlling a car – sorry, not yet.
But don't get disheartened, future Knight Riders – this app is based on tech initially developed for Google Glass, which means that voice was always considered a primary option. It's just that app developers are still having trouble gaining access to the voice command module of the Glass platform, thus the developer Bnotions was forced to settle for the watch's touch-screen instead, but it might not be long before we get to shout out voice commands at our high-tech car, how cool is that?