1. What can a Wear OS 3 smartwatch do?
  2. Dim the screen with your hand
  3. Avoid doubling up on notifications
  4. Customize side buttons
  5. Add new Tiles to your carousel
  6. Mix up your watch face
  7. Change wrist orientation
  8. Add a widget to your watch face
  9. Find your phone
  10. Turn on Cinema Mode
  11. Configure the vibration settings
  12. Squeeze out more battery life
  13. Use your watch to see in the dark
  14. Connect headphones and listen offline
  15. Clear all notifications at once
  16. Browse for the perfect watch app
  17. Get directions without your phone
  18. Control your smart home gadgets
  19. Take a screenshot
  20. Chat with Google Assistant
  21. Use Do Not Disturb correctly

Wear OS 3/4 tips and tricks: 20 steps to Android awesomeness

Unleash the power of your Android smartwatch with these clever hidden features
Wareable Wear OS 3 tips and tricks
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In order to get the very most out of your Wear OS 3 smartwatch, you'll need to know exactly how to use it. 

While the tutorial will allow you to master the basics, it'll take plenty of experimentation in order to find all of the hidden features and tricks. 

That's where this guide can save you some time. Below, we've covered 20 Wear OS features and hacks to help you really get to grips with what your smartwatch is capable of. 

What can a Wear OS 3 smartwatch do?

We'll dive into some of the more unknown features below, but it's worth covering some of the more basic ones of a typical Wear OS smartwatch first.

Some devices are naturally a bit more capable than others, but all should be able to perform the following:

  • Show you incoming notifications and calls
  • Track daily activity like calories, stand hours, and steps
  • Track workouts with GPS and heart rate
  • Notify you of abnormally high or low heart rates
  • Monitor sleep
  • Deliver health insights using ECG readings and SpO2 sensors
  • Provide turn-by-turn navigation from Google Maps
  • Allow access to Google Assistant
  • Let you pay or show tickets through Google Wallet

Dim the screen with your hand

One of the simplest Wear OS features is also the best; covering the watch display with your opposing hand will quickly turn the screen from bright to dim. 

This is great for quickly 'locking' the display if you've raised your wrist to view an incoming notification, or if you simply want to dim the screen in a dark environment.

Avoid doubling up on notifications

Wareablewear os double notifications

There are notifications everywhere you go. And while having these come into your wrist all day long is one of the great benefits of the smartwatch, it doesn't mean you want them replicated on the wrist when you're using your phone - or vice versa. 

At least on Wear OS 3 (and above) devices like the Pixel Watch series, you can ensure that you don't double up.

1. Open the Watch app on your phone.

2. Hit the 'Notifications' section. 

3. Scroll down to 'Mute watch notifications' or 'Mute notifications'.

4. Toggle either option (or both) to ensure you avoid double notifications.

Customize side buttons

The hardware buttons on Wear OS 3 watches may differ from brand to brand, but, as long as your device has at least one (as well as the crown), you're often able to customize how that button can be used. 

It's not possible on the Pixel Watch 1 or Pixel Watch 2, though you are able to on some of Samsung's Galaxy Watch devices, for example.

To do so, find something along the lines of 'Advanced features' within the Settings app and then tap through and find 'Customize keys'.

Depending on your model, you should be able to customize how the side buttons work from here. This includes actions for either a double press or a press and hold.

These will often launch an app by default, but this setting allows you to change what these actions can lead to. 

Wareablewear os tiles

Tiles are a great way to get a snapshot view of a certain app or bit of information from your Wear OS watch, and can easily be accessed by swiping left or right from the watch face. 

Your watch will have a few Tiles loaded up right out of the box, but, depending on which apps you have downloaded, you can also add many more. 

To do so, simply swipe from the home screen and land on a Tile. Long press the display until the Tile zooms out and offers up a + icon below it - it's from here where you can edit the carousel's order and contents. 

Tap the symbol to bring up a library of potential new Tiles, and then select the one you wish to add to the carousel.

Mix up your watch face

Changing around Tiles is one thing, but the watch face is what you'll be looking at most of the time. And it's likely you'll want to change it pretty frequently. 

We've got an entire guide to the best Wear OS watch faces and watch face apps, but you can play around with the pre-set list by simply long-pressing the display when the watch face is showing. 

From here, you'll get the option to swap to a different one - or edit the colors and widgets available on the face itself. 

Change wrist orientation

Wareablewear os wrist orientation

Your smartwatch needs to know which wrist it's placed on in order to accurately track steps, location, and more, which means letting it know if you've swapped wrists is an essential setting. 

You can find it by bringing up the Settings app, finding 'Display', and scrolling down to 'Wrist orientation'. 

Here, you can notify your watch which wrist it's used on - and even the placement of the crown, if you've decided to turn your watch upside down for easier access to the button.

Add a widget to your watch face

If you have a favorite app or bit of information you like to check in on, Tiles aren't the only way you can gain easy access to them.

 By adding a dedicated widget to your home screen, you can easily see things like the weather temperature, your watch's battery life or even just create a hot key straight to an app like Spotify.

To do so, perform a long press on the display and tap the edit icon. From here, you'll have to swipe left a couple of times to bring up the 'Complications' suite, and from here you can scroll through a list using the crown and then lock it in.

Find your phone

Wareablewear os find phone

Another incredibly simple but very handy feature available at your fingertips is the ability to force a sound out of your phone. 

By swiping down from the top of the screen, you should see an icon with a phone depicted. Tap it, wait a couple of seconds, and your Wear OS 3 device will note that it's ringing your phone. 

Providing the pair are connected via Bluetooth, you should hear your phone's ringtone begin to sound - even if it's on silent. 

Read more in our guide to finding your phone using a Wear OS smartwatch.

Turn on Cinema Mode

This is unavailable or called something slightly different on a number of Wear OS 3 devices, but, at least on the Pixel Watch, 'Cinema Mode' will turn off the screen, silence any alerts, and disable any raise-to-wake actions. 

It's ideal for the cinema, as the name would suggest, but just be aware that it will also disable any alarms or timers you have set, too. 

Configure the vibration settings

Wareablewear os change vibration

Unless you plan on annoying everyone in your vicinity with notification sounds, then haptic feedback and vibration are how you'll largely want to interact with your Wear OS 3 watch. 

And, on many devices, you can actually tweak tons of settings related to the watch's vibrations. Simply head to the Settings app and scroll down to 'Vibration' to get things started. 

From here, you can alter the strength of the vibration for calls, alarms, and notifications separately, as well as deal with settings that, for example, will silence the watch completely when it's not being worn.

Squeeze out more battery life

This is another feature that will vary greatly between different Wear OS 3 watches, but all do offer some kind of battery-saving mode for you to employ when supplies are low. 

The way you do so is also consistent - and simple. Simply bring up the quick settings list by swiping down from the top of the display, and then tapping the icon with a battery symbol. 

Often, this will simply turn off the always-on display and tilt-to-wake function, but, sometimes, this can also be extended to turn off heart or health monitoring sensors, too. 

Use your watch to see in the dark

Wareablewear os how to use torch

Whether you need to find something that's fallen down the side of your car seat, or you're fumbling around with your keys trying to open your front door at night, the torch option on your Wear OS smartwatch will come in handy more than you think.

It temporarily maximizes your screen's brightness and shows a plain white background, allowing you to create a small beam of light if you aim your wrist in the right direction. Enable it by swiping down from the top of your display and selecting the torch icon.

Just be careful with this one, obviously, as it does drain battery life pretty quickly. Press the crown to return to the home screen and disable it.

Connect headphones and listen offline

Whether you want to listen to Spotify, Amazon Music, or even Deezer from your Wear OS smartwatch, you'll first need to know how to pair your Bluetooth headphones.

Begin by following the required steps from your headphones manufacturer to place them in pairing mode, then head to Settings > Connectivity > Bluetooth > Pair new device and then tap your device name when it appears.

Read more in our guide to downloading music on Wear OS for offline listening.

Clear all notifications at once

Wareablewear os clear all notifications

Things can get overwhelming pretty quickly if you swipe up from the bottom of the display and bring up all your outstanding notifications. Luckily, you can deal with them all at once and avoid wasting time dealing with them individually. 

Simply swipe down to the very bottom of the list and find the 'Clear all' option before selecting it to start with a fresh stack.

Browse for the perfect watch app

The Play Store took a huge stride forward with the launch of Wear OS 3, with plenty of developers reimagining their apps for the smartwatch platform. 

Another benefit here is that it's never been easier to search for and download apps for your smartwatch. 

Simply head to the 'Play Store' app which is pre-downloaded onto your device, and then use the keyboard or dictation function to find what you're looking for. 

Get directions without your phone

Wareablewear os 3 google maps

Navigating around a big city or a new place can be pretty difficult if you're having to pull out your smartphone every couple of minutes to double-check directions.

With the power of your Wear OS 3 watch and Google Maps, though, following routes and instructions is made much simpler. 

Unless your watch has a cellular connection, you'll have to start route guidance from the Google Maps phone app, but then directions can be buzzed directly to your wrist for you to follow. 

Read our extended guide to Google Maps on Wear OS for more details.

Control your smart home gadgets

Google Home has never really been a big part of the Wear OS app experience until recently - and it got a big shot in the arm in 2023.

Not every smart home device can be controlled via the Home app on Wear OS, but most of it can - and it's the easiest way to subtly tweak light colors, room temperatures and check whether security systems are armed. 

Don't expect the same kind of treatment for Alexa-controlled smart homes any time soon, mind.

Take a screenshot

Wareablewear os 3 screenshot

In truth, taking a screenshot on Wear OS was much simpler before the latest versions of the software rolled around.

However, it is still possible - and some, like the Pixel Watch, still allow you to take one by pressing the crown and a side button at the same time.

As we've covered in our guide to taking screenshots on Wear OS, this does vary a little bit depending on the brand of your smartwatch, but the action should always be available from within the companion app.

In the Pixel Watch app, for example, it's available from the menu in the top-right.

Chat with Google Assistant

Not every Wear OS 3 smartwatch has access to Google Assistant, which means those that do have a considerable leg-up when it comes to answering queries or shouting commands from the wrist. 

You can even turn on 'Hey Google' detection, which means you don't have to bring up the app in order to start conversing with the virtual assistant. 

Use Do Not Disturb correctly

Wareablewear os 3 DND

Unlike the Cinema Mode discussed above  - and Sleep Mode, which is available on some Wear OS 3 devices - Do Not Disturb acts a little differently.

With this setting turned on, notifications and alerts are all turned off except for calls, while the always-on display and tilt-to-wake function are also disabled. 

In this mode, though, you can still do things like track exercise or have alarms enabled. It's good for when you're in an office environment, but less so for quiet trips to the theatre or bedtime.

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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