Android Wear apps is now just Wear apps. That's because Google has decided to rebrand its smartwatch operating system from Android Wear to Wear OS. Why? Because it wants to start offering the same watch experience for Android and iPhone owners, so it's ditching Android from the name to make things a little less confusing.
While the name has changed, getting those apps on your Wear smartwatch hasn't. You can still browse from the companion app or thanks to Wear 2.0, you can download them straight from the Play Store on your watch to make life that little bit easier.
Essential reading: Best smartwatch 2018
Still, some Wear apps that sound promising just don't cut it once downloaded. So to save you time, we've rounded up the ones we think are worth your time.
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The overhauled Foursquare app on Wear 2.0 is a delight to use, with easy navigation helping you find the best food, drink and activities in your local area. There's 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
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—all your notes sync over swiftly from your phone, and you can create new notes and lists from your wrist.
Free, Download Google Keep
Strava has given its app an update for Wear 2.0, letting it work on the watch independently. For devices like the LG Watch Sport, which include 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's Fit 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 favorite apps are available. You can finally go out and enjoy your podcasts without taking your phone along.
Free, Download Wear Casts app
If you rely on Facebook Messenger to keep in touch with friends and family then get the Messenger app installed on your smartwatch as well. Once it's installed, you can bring up your most recent chats and send responses right from your wrist. Using the app on your phone is obviously easier, but this is good for at-a-glance checks.
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 available for Wear 2.0 as 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.
Free, Download Uber app
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/£0.99 a month, but a free trial is available.
Free (subscription required), Download Pulse SMS app
Facer Watch Faces
There's 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 customizer app. And while you can build your own, Facer has also 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.
Even on Wear 2.0 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). So what makes it better on Wear 2.0? Rotational input, friends. Assuming your watch has a digital crown like the LG Watch Sport and Style, 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, enhanced for Wear 2.0, 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 — complete with step-by-step instructions — without touching your phone.
Free, Download Google Maps
If you want to keep track of your food intake, Lifesum gets even more handy on Wear 2.0 as 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 more simple 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 – stickers included.
Free, Download Telegram app
Despite the small screen size and limited input options offered by Wear devices, there are some pretty neat games for Google-powered smartwatches, including PaperCraft. The game is set in space but your ship is made of paper and so are all the bad guys you have to blast your way through. A lot of fun if you've got a bit of time to fill.
Free, Download PaperCraft app
Seven - 7 Minute Workout Training Challenge
Let your smartwatch be your fitness coach with this surprisingly comprehensive exercise prompter—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 – 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
Your wristwatch 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
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 is 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 – it monitors pace, distance, elevation and calories burned, and works with your walks and cycling trips as well as your runs. And now, with Wear 2.0, it can work without your phone to make use of the watch's GPS.
Free, Download RunKeeper 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.
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