How to install apps on your Android Wear smartwatch

Our latest Android Wear guide will get you up to speed with adding apps

If you're rocking an Android Wear smartwatch, you may be wondering how to install apps - especially with the refreshed method coming through version 2.0. Well, wonder no more, as we reveal everything you need to know.

When you unbox your new smartwatch, connect it up to your Android phone, and – hey presto – all your smartphone apps are instantly Android Wear apps too. That is to say, notifications and alerts appear on your wrist automatically, with no extra configuration required.

Smartwatch face-off: Apple Watch vs Android Wear

As well as getting alerts straight away, thanks to Android Wear 2.0, you can install apps right on your smartwatch too for extra functions and features. This makes it much easier to get apps up and running and operate your watch without turning to your phone (and it means using Android Wear with an iPhone is more straightforward, too).

We should also note that when you're running Android Wear 2.0, apps that are installed on your phone won't automatically install extensions on your watch – so if you want to use Google Maps on your wrist, for example, you need to install it on your smartwatch as well as your phone, which is a significant shift from Android Wear 1.0. If you're still on older software, jump to the end of this article.

Confused? Don't be - simply read o our handy Android Wear app guide.

1. Getting your watch connected

How to install apps on your Android Wear smartwatch

If you're running Android Wear 2.0 then there are two ways to get hold of the apps you need: from the web or from your watch. Whichever you opt for, your smartwatch needs to be connected to Wi-Fi – if you haven't already sorted this during setup, tap the power button then choose Settings, Connectivity and Wi-Fi to get your watch online.

2. Installing apps from the web

How to install apps on your Android Wear smartwatch

Browsing for apps is certainly easier on the web, and Google has put up a dedicated Android Wear 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 Android Wear 2.0 (if not, you'll need to send it to your phone instead).

3. Installing apps from your watch

How to install apps on your Android Wear smartwatch

A more direct approach is to load up the Play Store on your Android Wear 2.0 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. Finding apps on your watch

How to install apps on your Android Wear smartwatch

As we've said, in the Android Wear 2.0 world, apps need to be installed separately on your watch – having them on your phone isn't enough if you want to do more than see alerts. You can tap the power button once to see installed apps, and some watches let you launch apps with a customisable button or a watch face complication too.

5. Controlling app notifications

How to install apps on your Android Wear smartwatch

If you want to use an app that lives on your smartphone but has a few extra Android Wear tricks up its sleeve then simply launch or use it as normal. The Android Wear features will kick in when necessary rather than appearing in the Start menu we looked at a couple of steps ago.

For example, if you launch the Google Camera app on a connected phone then a remote control option will instantly appear on your Android Wear device.

6. Apps on Android Wear 1.0

How to install apps on your Android Wear smartwatch

If your watch isn't yet running Android Wear 2.0, the old rules apply – apps must be installed on your phone first, and will then show up on your watch, as long as an Android Wear extension is included. Even apps specifically for Android Wear must be installed to your phone first, from Google Play on the web or on your mobile, and then synced.

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