Five essential must-have apps for Android Wear
So, now that developers have had the time to play with Android Wear for a while – there certainly are quite a few useful apps out there for early adopters to enjoy. In fact, if you wish to explore a wide variety of apps to use with your Wear device – check out this recent article for our pick of best apps out there, which includes weather apps, sleep trackers, et cetera.
Now, if you merely wish to use your smartwatch “bare” – the way it ships, with only Android Wear's functionality on it, you may still find that you are missing a few things to make your experience with the gizmo a bit better. So, let's take a look at 5 essential solutions, which will not enhance the watches functionality too much, but will add just a few tweaks here and there to save you some headaches.
Launching any app on a Wear device is an odd ordeal – you either have to speak into the watch, or you have to tap on the screen and swipe down to whatever you wish to run, which works rather awkwardly on the small screen. So, a launcher is probably one of the few things you'd want to add to your smartwatch if you are the minimalist kind, so here's a couple of choices!
Swipify can be accessed by swiping in from the left of the smartwatches display. It then displays the launchable apps in a carousel, as long as the user keeps their finger on the screen. To launch an app, drag your touch to its icon and release. The launcher adds a quick settings menu, which allows you to toggle the paired smartphone's Wi-Fi, playback, media volume, ringer, cause it to ring, and fine tune the watches brightness (something that is also not easily accessible in stock). Additionally, Swipify adds a recent apps screen – it is also in a circular form and is accessed by swiping in from the right. If you are not very partial to the carousels – the launcher has a list mode as well.
Wear Mini Launcher is accessed by swiping in from the top-left of the wearable's screen. This will display a list of launchable apps. Another swipe from the same spot will give you a set of quick controls – similar to what we see on Swipify, and another brightness slider.
Due to a lack of system notifications on Android-powered smartwatches, it's not very easy to see when an app has installed, updated, or been removed from your Wear device. Apps Tracker will display a notification card on your smartwatch every time an app changes, which will leave a lot of guesswork out of the picture.
If you are a new smartwatch owner, you'd be quite curious about how the battery performs and what the overall usage graph of the gadget is. Wear Battery Stats will give you just that and will also add a notification for when your percentage drops beneath a user-set threshold.
Out of the few calendar apps that are available out there for Wear, this one is probably the most useful one at the moment. However, to unlock its agenda and detailed view features, you'd need to pay up $1.99 for premium unlock. The free version still works as a great at-a-glance calendar, though.
Not an app that you would use on your phone per se, but still a Wear essential – this app will filter offerings from the Play Store and display to you only the apps that are made for or compatible with Android Wear.