​How to set up and connect Android Wear

Use our guide to get your new Wear smartwatch up and running
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You've bought yourself a shiny new Android Wear watch, and a world of wrist notifications, smart gestures and mini apps awaits. But first you need to get your watch hooked up to Wi-Fi and your phone.

With Android Wear 2.0, watches like the Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45 and Emporio Armani Connected can do much more on their own, but you'll still need to tether them to your phone for managing apps and watch faces, and controlling a few other functions. We've penned this guide to get you up and running in no time at all.

Essential reading: Android Wear tips and tricks

Note: If you're using Android Wear with an iPhone, check our dedicated guide – the instructions below are for Android users. We're also using an Android Wear 2.0 watch, though the setup process is largely the same for older versions of the software.

1. Charging and connecting


To get ready to connect, you need your new smartwatch fully charged up, your phone nearby, and the official Android Wear app installed on your mobile. It's possible to link several smartwatches with a single phone, though you can only have one connected at any one time.

Read this: Android Wear v Apple Watch

Power up your watch if you need to (usually with a long push on the power button) and it will automatically take you through the setup process, so just follow the instructions on the watch screen.


You'll need to choose your language (on the watch), then launch the Android Wear app (on your phone) — if Bluetooth is enabled on both devices, you should see a prompt inside the app to get connected straight away, but if not choose Add a new watch from the menu at the top. When you see the watch name appear, select it and confirm the connection.

That's all there is to it. The Android Wear app then checks for updates, which might take some time to download, and you'll also be asked which of the Google accounts registered on your phone you want to use with your watch (this syncs contacts, messages, music and so on over). Occasionally we've had a problem where it can't sync the account during setup. If that happens, don't worry, just skip this step and you'll be able to do it again (with guaranteed success) later.

2. Getting started with Android Wear


After a few more minutes of waiting you'll see a message confirming everything is connected, and then it's time to start playing around with your new smartwatch and exploring all the features it's got to offer.

You can, for instance, change around the watch face either through the Android Wear app on your phone or by swiping to the right on the existing watch face itself. Browsing faces is probably easier on your phone, so tap the More button next to Watch faces to see a selection, and tap Get more watch faces to see even more. Meanwhile you can tap and hold on the watch face on the watch itself to set which information is displayed or customize the themes/colours if the option is available.


There are also some settings you're going to want to play around with - on the watch, drag down from the front screen then tap the cog icon. You can adjust font size, screen brightness, and turn the "always on" mode on or off under the Display heading, for example, while under the Gestures menu you can turn certain gestures on or off, like tilting your wrist to "wake up" the watch face.

The Android Wear app on your phone has some settings of its own: just tap the cog icon from the front screen (top right) then choose your watch to see them. The options let you check battery and storage levels, and configure the "always on" and "tilt-to-wake" features we just mentioned. From the main Settings menu you can also block certain apps from generating notifications on your phone.

3. Installing apps


With Android Wear 2.0, watch apps can do much more without the help of a connected phone. Tap the power button on your watch to see existing apps, and choose the Play Store entry from the list to find new ones — a lot of them you'll recognise from browsing the Google Play Store on your phone. Just tap on any app to install it.

If you have a smartwatch running the latest Android Wear software, you should also check out the built-in Google Assistant. Hold down the exterior crown button, speak out your query, and the Assistant will get back to you: try asking what the weather's like, or telling Google Assistant to set an alarm.


4. Set up Android Pay (if it's available)

If your new smartwatch comes with an NFC chip inside, you'll be able to setup and use Android Pay, which we reckon is one of the must-use features if you can use it.

To set this up you'll need the Android Pay app on your phone first. Then go to the Android Pay app on your watch where you'll be prompted to set up a new card or add an existing one. Just follow the procedure on your phone from that point, which will include verifying your card with your bank and ensuring you have a security lock on your watch.

You can also set a shortcut to Pay, either one of the physical buttons or a complication on the screen. We're including Android Pay in our guide because we think it's a great feature, and one you should get running out the gate. There's a more comprehensive guide to Pay here.

5. Troubleshooting

The Android Wear 2.0 watches we've tested are much more reliable than earlier models at getting (and keeping) a connection to your phone, but if you do run into trouble then check the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections on the watch are up and running — choose settings from the apps list and you'll find them under Connectivity.

A reset will often help iron out any bugs you might come across, and you can force one through the System menu in Settings. You should also make sure Bluetooth is enabled on your phone as well as your watch, and keep it away from other Bluetooth devices (such as headphones) while you're trying to connect.


How we test


David is a freelance tech writer who has been writing about technology, gadgets and gizmos for more than 20 years.

You can find his work on The Guardian, Wired, Gizmodo, PopSci, TechRadar, T3 and many other major publications on the web and in print.

He spends all day, (almost) every day testing out, explaining, and reviewing smartphones, laptops, smart home kit, wearables, and other essential devices.

From iOS to Wear OS, from Samsung to Sony, he's got an intimate knowledge of almost everything going on in the world of technology right now. When it comes to wearables, there aren't many smartwatches, fitness trackers and VR headsets that he hasn't tried and tested – which means he has a wealth of experience to draw on when it comes to talking about something new or the market in general.

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