Last week during Google I/O 2016, the Internet giant had a lot to announce, but where Android Wear was concerned, they introduced us to Android Wear 2.0. While this new version of Android Wear is currently in a preview, it has a lot of new features and redesigned UI elements that we'll have to get used to this Fall, when it launches in earnest. For now, however, we're going to go over some of the best Android apps out there for Android Wear users that want to do more with their smartwatches.
This choice might seem incredibly obvious, but Android Wear doesn't ship on Android devices by default, so if you have an Android Wear device burning a whole in your pocket, you'll need to download Android Wear from the Play Store. Even if this is an obvious download for some, there are some settings buried within the Android Wear app that will be essential, such as the ability to mute your device when connected to your watch as well as control just which apps are allowed to pop up on your watch.
One of the main attractions of Android Wear is the ability to spend time messing around with all sorts of watch faces, and while there's a huge amount of them available in the Play Store, it's nice to also make your own or play around with the work of others. This is where WatchMaker comes in, the Premium version allows for much more control and such with your watch faces, but its main attraction is the ability to have one watch face turn into hundreds at a moment's notice. There's a huge community surrounding WatchMaker, and a really good one on Google+ that has all manner of watch faces to choose from, the majority of which are free to download and use.
Google Fit – Fitness Tracking
Wearable devices of any kind always have something to do with keeping fit and logging your activity, which is just what Google Fit offers users. There's a small app installed on Android Wear by default, but installing the full Google Fit app on your phone will update that Android Wear component and give you a central place to manage all of your activity and help you meet your fitness goals. Google Fit also plays nice with lots of other health services out there, and is well worth looking into if you want a smartwatch-cum-fitness tracker.
Wear Black when Charging
A lot of Android Wear watches out there will have a sort of animation or charging display to show users when their watch is tucked in for the night, but these can be annoying. Especially if it's close to where you sleep or is just too bright. This simple little app does away with the annoying bright light and just makes your watch as dark as the rest of the room when charging. Perfect for watches with a fancy charging stand and an animation to match, this will keep your watch dim overnight.
Wear Store for Wear Apps
Android Wear, just like Android proper is always moving, always being updated and there are always new apps arriving. That's why it can be quite difficult to pin down the essential apps, as there are always apps that are coming out of the woodwork. This one app will make it easy – by using your phone – to find all manner of Android Wear apps, including the absolute latest ones. Wear Store is designed exclusively to tell you which apps are designed for Wear and it takes you to the Play Store to install them.
Parrot – Voice Recorder
Parrot is predominantly an Android phone app, but it also has an Android Wear side to it, and it's a great voice recorder app all around, which makes it great for meetings and the like. Where the Android Wear side of things come in, Parrot can be used to make some covert recordings, record a meeting without getting your phone out or whatever else you need to do. This is one app that makes great use of the microphone that is made available on all Android Wear devices, and is well worth looking into.
WatchMaster – Watch Face
WatchMaster is an Android app that brings together all of the great-looking Android Wear watch faces from a number of different developers. This makes it nice and simple to find a really well-made and polished watch face for your Android Wear watch. What's great about this is the sheer variety that's on offer, whether or not you're looking for something like a more classic watch, or something a little playful or digital, WatchMaster will have something you want.
The whole point of having a small screen on your wrist all the time is arguably to be able to quickly and easily glance at all sorts of information and make sure that you take it in without having to dig out your phone all of the time. Google Keep is one of the best apps on Android Wear for that sort of thing, it has an always-on mode, it's easy to navigate and is really easy to use in frantic situations where you've forgotten everything except for how to be human.
Facer is similar to WatchMaker and depending on who you ask is better than WatchMaker, but then some people say the same about WatchMaker. Either way, this is an app that allows artists to create their own watch face designs as well as choose from hundreds upon thousands of other designs out there, something that a lot of people will find a big help when looking for watch faces for their new Android Wear device. Free to download and use, there is also a premium version available as well.
Runtastic is another great fitness app to use on Android Wear, and it's got all sorts of neat features on both the phone and watch app, but crucially for runners and long-walkers, the Android Wear app updates you on pace, time and so on. These can be customized in the settings on the phone app, and Runtastic has a number of other apps out there that offer other features that can be helpful for those looking to keep fit. It's free to download and try out, but there is a Premium version available as well.