How to install apps on your Wear OS smartwatch

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Understanding how to install apps will make your Wear OS experience immeasurably richer, allowing you to access endless options from the Google Play Store.

When you first set up your Wear OS smartwatch – whether it's a new Fossil Gen 5 smartwatch or one of the huge array of devices – you'll have the option to automatically transfer all your smartphone apps.

But with the Google Play Store available directly from the wrist - without the need for your phone - you're only a few steps away from searching and installing new apps for your smartwatch.

And that means you can discover new Wear OS and Android apps that make more sense on your wrist than they do on your smartphone,

Read on to find out everything you need to learn how to install apps on your smartwatch, and don't forget to read our guide to the best Wear OS apps to download first.

Check out our full guide to Wear OS.

1. Make sure your Wear OS watch is connected


If you're running the latest Wear OS software, then there are two ways to get hold of the apps you need: from your computer or from your watch.

Whichever you opt for, your device needs to be connected to Wi-Fi. If you haven't already sorted this during setup, tap the power button then choose 'Settings > Connectivity > Wi-Fi' to get your watch online.

2. Installing Wear OS apps from your computer


Browsing for apps is certainly easier on the web, and Google has put up a dedicated Wear OS section in the Google Play Store.

Click through on any app, choose to install it, and you'll notice your watch appears as a destination device, as long as the app has been updated for Wear OS 2.0 or above. If not, you'll need to send it to your phone, instead.

3. Installing Wear OS apps from your smartwatch


A more direct approach is to load up the Play Store on your Wear OS smartwatch and browse for apps there, though it's not quite as easy on a tiny screen.

You can search for particular apps or browse through the categories or recommendations, and when you see something you like, you just need to select the app and then tap the 'Install' button.

4. Moving apps from your phone


Having apps on your phone doesn't necessarily install them on your watch as well.

If you go to the Play Store app, then scroll down from the front screen, you'll see a heading marked Apps on your phone: these are all the apps on your phone that have Wear OS companion apps, which you can install by tapping on any of the buttons on the right.

5. Controlling app notifications


Maybe you don't want notifications from every single app on your phone showing up on your Wear OS smartwatch.

To make changes to notification settings, open up the Wear OS app, and scroll down and tap 'Notifications' – if you then tap 'Change Watch Notifications', you can set which of the apps on your phone can and can't prompt watch notifications.

More Wear OS guides

Set up and connect Wear OS
Update Wear OS
Get music on Wear OS
Use voice commands Wear OS
How to set up Google Pay
Installing apps on Wear OS
Get and use Spotify on Wear OS
Using WhatsApp on Wear OS


How we test

Conor Allison


Conor moved to Wareable Media Group in 2017, initially covering all the latest developments in smartwatches, fitness trackers, and VR. He made a name for himself writing about trying out translation earbuds on a first date and cycling with a wearable airbag, as well as covering the industry’s latest releases.

Following a stint as Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint, Conor returned to Wareable Media Group in 2022 as Editor-at-Large. Conor has become a wearables expert, and helps people get more from their wearable tech, via Wareable's considerable how-to-based guides. 

He has also contributed to British GQ, Wired, Metro, The Independent, and The Mirror. 

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