With over 4,000 Android Wear apps available, there's no excuse for settling for the default functionality that comes built into your Android Wear smartwatch. You need to take advantage of some of the best new apps for your smartwatch and really make the most of your intelligent wearable.
A good Android Wear app should give some serious added value to your newest gadget, take you away from your smartphone, and generally make your life a lot easier.
Essential reading: How to install apps on your Android Wear smartwatch
Still, some Wear apps that sound promising just don't cut it once downloaded and the most popular apps on Google Play are actually watch faces. To save you time, we've rounded up our favourite apps to install straight away…
An obvious candidate for wrist-based access, Shazam's Android app now has full Android Wear support. You can use your smartwatch to launch the app (set it in settings to start tagging on launch), then the tracks will appear in the main smartphone app. Handy if you have only seconds to spare before a track ends and you're fumbling for your phone.
Lifeline & Lifeline 2
Text based adventure games have found a new home on smartwatches, and the Lifeline series are some of the best. In Lifeline you help the protagonist, Taylor, survive after a spaceship crash leaves him marooned on a distant planet. In Lifeline 2, the storyline of the character Arika (avenging her parents and rescuing her brother) is twice as long.
Unfortunately podcast support on Android Wear isn't great – at least not yet – and Pocket Casts is about as good as it gets for now. This excellent podcasting app for Android (and iOS and the web) lets you control playback from your smartwatch, change the volume, browse for new podcasts on your wrist and favourite (star) the episodes you love most.
$0.99, Download Pocket Casts app
IF by IFTTT
IFTTT stands for 'If This Then That', and enables you to link apps together to create recipes to perform certain actions – for example, IF your weather app says it's going to rain THEN tell your Philips Hue lights to turn blue. The IF Android Wear app enables you to automate a host of tasks such as sending automated SMS messages by tapping your smartwatch.
Free, Download IF by IFTTT app
SofaScore Live Scores
If you rely on Android Wear alerts for sports scores then definitely consider downloading this live scores app, which adds a little class to proceedings with club badges, start times and more, plus the scores themselves. It gets you live coverage of all leagues for 17 sports (including football, cricket, basketball and tennis) on your wrist as well as your phone.
If wanting to be able to send SMS messages is high on your list of 'tasks I want to be able to do on my smartwatch' then Wear Messenger is well worth considering and offers a useful alternative to Google's own app. It comes with several keyboard options, voice input, customisable alerts and the option to send quick responses to your contacts.
Wear Audio Recorder
If you're in a lecture, an interview or someone is just spouting hilarious nonsense on the train, you can quickly record the sound around you using this simple app. Following the Google Material design guidelines, it lets you sync to both Google Drive and Dropbox, and you can even record with the screen display off if you'd prefer people not to know.
Endomondo, the hugely popular fitness platform, has been updated for Android Wear, allowing you to tag your runs, cycles, hikes, climbs and so on. Also, if you're rocking a smartwatch with integrated GPS, you don't even need a companion smartphone – a standalone mode stores all the metrics from your exercise sessions directly on your watch.
The world's most famous streaming music service has made its way onto Android Wear at last, though you can only control playback somewhere else (on your phone or another device linked via Spotify Connect) – you can't actually sync music to your watch yet. Still, it's a capable little player, and lets you switch between your recent Spotify playlists.
Hole19 is one of the most comprehensive Android golf assistants and the Android Wear extension that provides distance details for more than 34,000 courses around the world. The app itself is extremely in-depth, but as getting your phone out on the course is a big no-no, you'll be better off making use of the distance scoring features on your smartwatch.
Free, Download Hole 19 app
A no brainer: the popular notes and reminders app (which you probably have on your phone already) has been reworked to give you glanceable info on your Android Wear watch. Everything is clean and simple with some full background images, but otherwise it's just checking off to-dos with taps and adding new reminders with voice control.
You're probably already familiar with TripAdvisor, and the wealth of local info and user reviews it offers can come in very handy when you're travelling around – and of course it's often much easier to glance at your wrist than get your phone out. Read reviews, get directions, find things to do in the area where you are, all from your watch's display.
Wrist-based computing lends itself to quick, uncomplicated actions – such as checking off items on a to-do list, for example. Enter the aptly named Todoist, already a well-respected app for smartphones and the web, which makes the switch to Android Wear seamlessly, enabling you to bring up and clear your list of current tasks with a few taps of your finger.
Free, Download Todoist app
Turning settings on and off on your smartphone (such as Wi-Fi and aeroplane mode) can be inconvenient when you're on the move, so transfer the necessary switches to your wrist with the help of Toggles Wear. Adjust phone volume, see the remaining battery life, check how much mobile data you're using and more besides, all from one simple display.
We're big fans of Sleep As Android, which lets you monitor your sleep patterns just by placing your smartphone on your mattress at night. If you have an Android Wear watch then the app can give you even more data on how you're sleeping: activate the wearable option inside the phone app and you can then start sleep tracking from either device.
InstaWeather for Android Wear
InstaWeather puts location-based weather reports front and centre on your smartwatch with seven free custom watch faces, featuring radar maps, hourly forecasts, wind conditions and more. The premium version available in-app offers extended forecasts, a bunch more faces, customisable location trackers and an animated radar as well.
UP by Jawbone
The Jawbone UP app enables you to keep track of your daily steps from your Android Wear smartwatch, with no need to buy a separate band. In many ways it duplicates the functionality of Google Fit, but Jawbone has one of the best apps and ecosystems out there, and this app lets you tap into all of that without the need to buy another device.
Google Maps does a fine job already on Android Wear, but if you're in a part of the world that enjoys CityMapper coverage, this app is arguably even better if you're trying to get around via public transport. You can get live updates on buses, trains and trams, as well as precise directions right on your wrist. You need never be stuck at the wrong stop again.
Free, Download Citymapper app
Wunderlist is one of the most connected to do list apps out there, which might be what tempted Microsoft to go out and buy it. You can select a specific list to show on your Android Wear device and use 'OK Google' to add items using the power of voice control. You can also get reminders about your projects and reply to comments from others.
Free, Download Wunderlist app
Turn your smartwatch into a viewfinder for the camera app on your smartphone. Set up your phone for a selfie and then use your Android Wear screen to check you're in-shot. You can also access features like the flash settings, self-timer and zoom. When you're ready, you can even take a picture from your smartwatch with the one-tap shutter.
$1.99, Download PixtoCam app
Shop for recommended Android Wear watches on Amazon
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