How to use Google Maps on Wear OS: Get directions and traffic info on your wrist

We explain how take directions - and whether it differs between iPhone and Android
How to use Google Maps on Wear OS
Wareable is reader-powered. If you click through using links on the site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Getting directions is one of the simplest and most effective uses of your smartwatch, and the experience is especially strong on Google's Wear OS devices.

Since it's powered by Google Maps, there's simply no better option for those times when you don't want to keep looking at your phone for turn-by-turn directions.

However, there are things to know about using this app: it won't come pre-installed on your Wear smartwatch and it doesn't work the same for those on iPhone as it does for Android connections.

Read on for everything you need to know on how to use Google Maps on Wear OS.

Learn more: Wear OS tips, guides and hacks

Downloading Google Maps on Wear OS

Installing Google Maps on your Wear OS is simple - as simple as installing every other app on your wrist. You're not going to have to sign in, but do make sure you have the Google Maps app installed on your phone.

1. Open the Google Play Store.
2. Search 'Google Maps'.
3. Click 'Install'.

Using Google Maps on Wear OS

How to use Google Maps on Wear OS

The first thing you need to know is that Google Maps is severely restricted if you're using an iPhone.

You can't get navigation, for one. The only big thing you can really do is scroll around and check out the area. You can select some businesses and restaurants, but you can't navigate to them.

If you've got an Android phone, though, there are a number of things you can do. The main thing you might want to know is how to navigate around. This is pretty simple, and leans heavily on Google Assistant.

1. Swipe over to the left and access Google Assistant.
2. Say something like,"Navigate to [destination]".
3. A Google Maps card will pop up and give you directions.

The Google Maps' navigation card will let you check the distance to your destination and your estimated time of arrival. You'll also get a full list of turn-by-turn directions, as well as an option to pull up the full Google Maps Wear OS app.

Navigation will work even when your phone is locked. In fact, your always-on screen will transform into a black-and-white version of Google Maps and keep you informed of where you are.

Read next: How to update your Wear OS smartwatch

Google Maps on Wear OS: Common issues

It's worth keeping in mind that the experience, even when connected to an Android phone, can be inconsistent.

We've had occasions where the map hasn't popped up, or even the turn-by-turn directions won't display until the full app has been opened on the phone first.

It's not clear if this is a deliberate change by Google since Maps first became available on Wear, but it certainly seems to vary from watch to watch with no real rhyme or reason.

Another thing to note: You can use Assistant to ask for places around you, and when you do they'll be brought up in a card. You can then tap on then and navigate to them.

Google Maps on Wear OS: How to end navigation

1. Swipe over to Google Assistant.
2. Tap on the Google Maps card.
3. Tap 'Exit navigation'.

How to navigate the Google Maps app

How to use Google Maps on Wear OS

You don't have to use Assistant to get around. You can actually open up the map and look around. To move around, you can use the crown to zoom in and out of the app.

You can also use the plus and minus button up at the top. On the left side of the screen, there's a button that'll locate where you are in the map.

So, if you're browsing around the map and tap it, you'll be zoomed back to your location.

While browsing around, you can tap a business or restaurant and you'll see a blue arrow. Click that and you'll be navigated to the location of your choice.