You've got a brand new Wear OS watch for your fancy Android or iPhone and you're looking for some apps to use on it. We get it, it can be a bit of a hassle to know where to start β especially if you're new to the ecosystem.
And you very well could be, as Google decided to rebrand from Android Wear to Wear OS so it could appeal more to iPhone users (the Android bit was understandably a tad confusing when these watches worked with iPhones).
Essential reading: Best smartwatch to buy now
While the name has changed, though, getting those apps onto your Wear smartwatch hasn't. You can still browse from the companion app or, thanks to Wear 2.0, you can download some of them straight from the Play Store on your watch to make life a little bit easier.
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UV Index Now
As summer approaches, you'll be headed out for some fun in the sun. However, too much sun can be dangerous, so it's best to keep track of UV index. UV Index Now will do that for you, and it'll also give you advice based on your skin type, like telling you what time in the day to put on some sunscreen.
Free, Download UV Index Now
It's perhaps no surprise that Google has some fine apps for Wear OS, and near the top of that particular pile is Google Keep. The note-taking app finds the perfect balance between usefulness and simplicity β all your notes sync over swiftly from your phone, and you can create new notes and lists from your wrist.
Free, Download Google Keep
The overhauled Foursquare app on Wear OS is a delight to use, with easy navigation helping you find the best food, drink and activities in your local area. There are a handful of complications to choose from too, meaning you can get straight to the top coffee spots in the area with one easy tap.
Free, Download Foursquare app
Strava's app now works independently. For Wear OS devices like the LG Watch Sport, which include both built-in GPS and LTE, this means you can now track your runs and biking sessions sans smartphone. It also gives you another fitness platform to choose from besides the default Google Fit Workout app.
The first standalone podcast app for Wear, Wear Casts lets you download podcasts to, and stream from, the watch. The app will create playlists too, and let you know when the latest episodes of your favourite apps are available. You can finally go out and enjoy your podcasts without taking your phone along.
Free, Download Wear Casts app
App in the Air
If you're flying, you're not going to find a better assistant than App in the Air. It gives you all your flight information right there on your wrist, including real-time boarding and flight status. You'll also get airport tips and maps. Oh, and it works offline, and comes with its own Wear watch face. And yes, there's automatic check-in too.
The ride-hailing service is also a standalone app, so if you have LTE connectivity you won't even need to have it paired to a phone. The app lets you call a cab and check the status of your ride, although it doesn't have the full functionality of the smartphone app just yet.
Free, Download Uber app
Your watch might not be the ideal device for getting through large chunks of reading but if you do have to browse through an article or two then Wear Reader is the perfect option, giving you the ability to read ePub, PDF, Word and plain text documents one word at a time. You can set your own word rate and there's a handy night mode available too.
Free, Download Wear Reader app
Wear Audio Recorder
If you're in a lecture or an interview, or someone is just spouting hilarious nonsense on the train, you can quickly record the sound around you using this app. It lets you sync to both Google Drive and Dropbox, and you can even record with the screen display off to save a bit of battery.
The default Android Messages app has a Wear OS component, but if you need something different then Pulse SMS comes highly recommended: in fact, it lets you get at your texts from any device and through a web browser, if you're prepared to pay for the privilege. Subscriptions start at $0.99 a month, but a free trial is available.
Free (subscription required), Download Pulse SMS app
Facer Watch Faces
There are no end of watch faces to browse through on the Wear store, but that's not to say they're all good. Perhaps you want to make one of your own, in which case Facer is at hand with its excellent Wear face customiser app. And while you can build your own, Facer has partnered with watchmakers like MVMT to provide exclusive watch faces too.
The world's most famous streaming music service has made its way onto Wear at last, though it's not quite the full Spotify experience. You can't search, but you can browse through a list of your playlists and recently played songs/albums to play them again with a tap of the screen.
Free (subscription required), Download Spotify app
Even on Wear OS you'll still need the phone app to get Nest working, but once they're paired you can use your watch to control your home heating (assuming you do, in fact, have a Nest thermostat). There's also rotational input and friends. Assuming your watch has a digital crown, you'll be able to use it to adjust the temperature. It's the little things, eh?
Free, Download Nest app
Glide's phone app wants to make sending and receiving video messages as basic as texting, and on the Wear app you can watch video and hear audio from your conversations. You can also send back audio if your watch is rocking a mic like the one on the LG Watch Sport.
Free, Download Glide app
As we've already mentioned, Google has made sure its own apps have a high level of spit and polish on Wear OS, and Google Maps is no exception. You can get directions to places right on your wrist, as well as launch a new set of directions β complete with step-by-step instructions β without touching your phone.
Free, Download Google Maps
Read this: How to use Google Maps on Wear OS
If you want to keep track of your food intake, it's hard to get anything better than Lifesum. You don't just get to track independently on your wrist, but you also get complication widgets for the watch face. Keeping tabs on those calories is now simpler and easier than ever before.
Free, Download Lifesum app
WhatsApp supports Wear but still doesn't have a standalone app, so if you're looking for something more functional, Telegram is a great choice. It offers a full messaging experience across your different devices, and works nicely on Wear β stickers included.
Free, Download Telegram app
Seven β 7 Minute Workout Training Challenge
Let your smartwatch be your fitness coach with this surprisingly comprehensive exercise prompter β surprising because it manages to pack in so much on such a small screen. The routines are straightforward and simple to follow, though you will have to pay to access a lot of them. You don't need any equipment to get started and as the name suggests, each one takes seven minutes.
IFTTT stands for 'If This Then That', and enables you to link apps together to create applets to perform certain actions β for example, IF your weather app says it's going to rain THEN tell your Philips Hue lights to turn blue. The IFTTT Wear app enables you to automate a host of tasks such as sending automated SMS messages by tapping your smartwatch.
Free, Download IFTTT app
Calculator for Wear OS
Simple but useful, the Calculator for Wear app does exactly what it says on the tin, presenting you with a simple calculator for your wrist. The buttons are easy to hit, the colour scheme and layout are easy on the eye, and there are even scientific functions to make use of. You can control it using your voice as well.
Free, Calculator for Wear OS
Hole19 is one of the most comprehensive Android golf assistants and the Wear extension provides distance details for more than 34,000 courses around the world. The app itself is extremely in-depth, but as getting your phone out on the course is a big no-no, you'll be better off making use of the distance scoring features on your smartwatch.
Free, Download Hole 19 app
Bring! Shopping List
If you live with other people, or work with other people, and you ever need to coordinate buying things for the home or office, you know how frustrating it can be to create and share shopping lists. Bring! makes that easy, allowing you to easily create and share lists with family, friends and colleagues. It's also got a spiffy Wear app that'll let you see your lists with a beautiful interface.
Out of the many fitness tracking apps that work with Wear, RunKeeper is one of the best options for tracking the miles you're putting in around the park. It's the app's comprehensiveness that's most impressive β it monitors pace, distance, elevation and calories burned, and works with your walks and cycling trips as well as your runs. Plus, it's a standalone app that can take advantage of GPS.
Free, Download RunKeeper app
Sleep As Android
We're big fans of Sleep As Android, which lets you monitor your sleep patterns just by placing your smartphone on your mattress at night. If you have a Wear watch then the app can give you even more data on how you're sleeping: activate the wearable option inside the phone app and you can then start sleep tracking from either device.
Google Maps does a fine job already on Wear, but if you're in a part of the world that enjoys Citymapper coverage, this app is arguably even better for getting around via public transport. You can get live updates on buses, trains and trams, as well as precise directions right on your wrist. You need never be stuck at the wrong stop again.
Free, Download Citymapper app
Until Google builds a watch that automatically detects songs for you, you're still going to want to identify that catchy song in your local bar or Target. For that, there's no better option than Shazam on your wrist. You simply tap, wait, and enjoy your new addiction.
Free, Download Shazam app
Once limited to Apple Watch, one of the most advanced heart rate apps out there has made its way to Wear. Using its DeepHeart AI, Cardiogram is able to track your heart rate and give you trends based on that information. In the future, that may involve the detection of dangerous conditions like atrial fibrillation and sleep apnea.
Free, Download Cardiogram app
You may rely on your phone or tablet to give you recipes while you're in the kitchen. That's great, but sometimes your hands are all messed from wet flour and eggs and you really don't want to get your gadget gunky. That's where Healthy Recipes for Wear OS comes in. You'll get step by step directions right on your wrist, and images are included.