What is Android Wear, what are the best features of Android Wear 2.0, what smartwatches use Android Wear and what are the best Android Wear apps? Here’s our complete guide to Google’s Android Wear watch OS, telling you everything you need to know.
Android Wear is already massive, supported on a wide range of wearables to suit every taste, with thousands of apps ready to download. And with Android Wear 2.0 on its way, Google’s smartwatch OS is set to get even better in 2017.
But we’re getting way ahead of ourselves here. If you’re not entirely sure what Android Wear is, what the best Android Wear watches and apps are, or how to set up your Android Wear smartwatch, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s our full in-depth guide on Android Wear and what it can do.
What is Android Wear?
Android Wear is Google’s watch OS, which now runs on a wide variety of smartwatches including Huawei’s wearables and the watches from LG. Android Wear allows your watch to pair with your mobile phone, then delivers essential features to your wrist.
When paired to your mobile, Android Wear gives you all kinds of great functionality, including full notifications support. In other words, your watch will buzz to let you know when you have an incoming call, or a new message arrives.
You can also display other vital information on your smartwatch’s screen. For instance, when you’re pounding the pavement or down the gym, your watch can help to track your workout and let you know how many calories you’ve burned. Or you can see turn-by-turn navigation instructions on your wrist, streamed direct from your phone.
But best of all, you can expand the features on your Android Wear watch simply by downloading new apps from the Google Play store. More on this later.
What is Android Wear 2.0?
Android Wear 2.0 is the latest version of Google’s Android Wear smartwatch OS. It was announced in summer of 2016 at the Google I/O summit.
Andoid Wear 2.0 is a big jump up in terms of functionality and operation for your humble smartwatch.
For instance, while your smartwatch apps currently have to be installed on your phone and then beamed to the watch, Android Wear 2.0 will allow you to download apps direct to your wrist. This means complete independence from your phone, which is particularly good news if your mobile dies or you wish to leave it behind.
You’ll also get better communication between your different apps in Android Wear 2.0. For example, a diet tracking app can relay calories consumed to a fitness app, which then shows you exactly what you need to do to burn off that naughty lunchtime donut.
Android Wear 2.0 is currently in developer preview beta stage. In normal speak, that means you can only download it if you’re building your own Android Wear apps. Us lot in the general public will have to wait a bit longer to try it out.
Do I need an Android smartphone to use an Android Wear watch?
One of the great things about Android Wear is its flexibility. Not only with Android Wear watches work with pretty much any Android phone you can buy right now, but they’re also compatible with Apple’s iPhones. All you need to do is download the Android Wear app from the App Store and then use it to pair with your smartwatch.
Note that not all Android Wear 2.0 features might work with an iPhone.
What is Android Wear: The best Android Wear smartwatches you can buy right now
If you’re in the market for an Android Wear watch, you’ve got a reasonable amount of choice.
If it’s style you’re after, check out the Huawei Watch W1. This gorgeous stainless steel smartwatch boasts a premium design as well as a Sapphire Crystal display that’s tough enough to put up with some serious punishment. The screen is sharp and vibrant too, with an ambient display setting to save your battery. Expect a couple of days of life between charges. You also get a heart rate sensor and full activity tracking built-in, if you’re up for some exercise.
Huawei has also just launched its latest Android Wear device, imaginatively titled the Huawei Watch 2. This boasts the same great features as the last model plus full vellular connectivity and water resistance, as well as built-in GPS.
The Moto 360 (2nd gen) is another great Android Wear smart watch that looks neat, although the rounded screen is cropped at the bottom which impacts on the aesthetics. You get a choice of men’s or woman’s sizes as well as a wide selection of bands, from leather to metal.
And if you’re a bit of a fitness fiend, you can even grab the Moto 360 Sport edition, which is thinner and lighter.
Our final pick for one of the best Android Wear watches right now is the Asus Zenwatch 2. That gorgeous, fully customisable design is a treat, not to mention fully water resistant. You get a choice of screen sizes and the £149 asking price is pleasingly slim.
The Zenwatch 3 will be hitting the UK soon enough, so stay tuned for our full review.
LG is about to release its new Watch Style and Watch Sport devices, which come packing Android Wear 2.0 out of the box. Stay tuned for our in-depth reviews.
What is Android Wear: Android Wear setup, tips and tricks
Have you just bought an Android Wear smartwatch of your very own? Confused by what it can do, or just want to check out some of the best hidden features that you might not know about?
In that case, check out our in-depth Android Wear 2.0 tips and tricks guide, which tells you how to setup your Android Wear watch and get started with it. We’ve even shared how to download apps and extend your watch’s battery life.
What is Android Wear: How do I update my Android Wear watch?
Right now, you can’t update your smartwatch to Android Wear 2.0 as it isn’t officially released. However, you can still check for other updates that might improve the performance of your watch or fix little bugs.
Android Wear smartwatch updates should automatically register, at which point a message will pop up on your watch and your phone asking you to update the software. Just follow the instructions to proceed.
However, you can also check for updates manually. To do this, swipe down your watch’s display when it’s turned on and then swipe left until you spy the settings menu. Give this a tap and scroll down to About. Inside this menu you’ll see the System Update option.
Tap that and your watch will check for any Android Wear updates. If one is found, you’ll be prompted to download and install.
What is Android Wear: The best apps you can download for Android Wear watches right now
Now that Android Wear has been around for a couple of years, we’re happy to say that there’s a strong selection of apps that you can download to expand your watch’s functionality. Whether you’re after fitness tracking apps to monitor your pavement-pounding sessions or silly little games to kill some time while you wait for the bus, Android Wear has you covered.
Check out our guide to the best Android Wear apps for a comprehensive list.