​How to install official and custom watch faces on your Android Wear smartwatch

A simple guide to getting creative with your Wear watch
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Anyone can give their Android Wear smartwatch a makeover with official or custom watch faces and the process only takes a matter of minutes.

There's watch faces out there to suit both circular Wear watches like the LG Watch Sport and the Asus ZenWatch 3 as well as square faces like the Polar M600 and the Sony SmartWatch 3.

Read this: The best Android Wear watch faces

Most unofficial watch faces will have migrated over to the official selection of watch faces on Google Play since the API was made available way back in December 2014. That allows developers access to things like when the smartwatch is in ambient mode. But there will be a few people with a hankering for something off piste too.

Install watch faces from Google Play

Installing official Android Wear watch faces is pretty straightforward with thousands to choose from on Google Play. Just open up the Android Wear app on your smartphone, hit 'more' and then have a look around the interactive and standard watch faces.

The installing process is the same as downloading an Android app onto your phone, the watch face then appears in the Wear app so that you can either select it on your phone or longpress your current watch face choice to switch it out on the watch itself. Simple.

How to install custom watch faces

Now don't you go downloading those Rolex, Breitling and Omega knock-off designs that are plentifully floating around on the web. Despite being wonderful to look at they're 100% illegal.

Here's how to get unofficial watch faces on your Android Wear watch.

Download a watch face installer app

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First up, you a watch face installer app on your phone. Two of the most popular at the moment are WatchMaker and Facer.

We had a go with both and found WatchMaker easier to deal with. It's available for free but get the paid for version with easy access to 'featured' watch faces each week.

Find yourself some watch faces

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The internet is swimming in custom watch faces. You just need to know where to look. Try XDA Forums, torrent sites (keep it legal, kids) and Reddit with a nod to all sorts of subreddits within each watch, each installer app and on the 'Android watch faces' topic itself. WatchMaker also has a Google+ community which polices itself for copyrighted watch faces.

Most of the good folk who have downloaded their own watch faces then upload them to sites like FaceRepo or to Dropbox and Google Drive cloud folders.

Download the custom watch faces

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OK. So, you've found the faces you're looking for. You can either download them direct to your phone or probably easier is to use a computer.

It might be easier to use a computer for the hunting around but in some cases, for instance, if you use FaceRepo (which works with Facer and WatchMaker) do it on your phone and it will simply open the watch face in the watch face installer app.

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If not, the aim of the game is to get all your custom watch face files into one folder. Then get that folder onto your phone's internal memory. It doesn't really matter where. You'll need to side-load with a USB cable if you're going via a laptop.

Now, a word of warning. The custom face files and folders you download are likely to either be .face types or .zip folders. Don't be tempted to unzip the zips. You don't need to. In fact, it won't work if you do. Got it?

Import the watch faces into your app

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Boot up either Facer or WatchMaker. If you're using Facer, head to the My Watchfaces tab and then click the icon in the top-right that indicates a download. That opens up a file tree on your phone which you use to navigate to that folder you imported in the last step. Click on each .face or .zip file and, hey presto, it'll turn up your collection back on the My Watchfaces panel.

If you're using the WatchMaker app instead, it's the same process. Just look for 'Import Watch' under the Home tab. Easy peasy.

If you can't find your watch files at all, then close down the app and reboot it. Use the Force Stop button in the Apps section of Settings on your phone or, you know, just switch the whole thing on and off again.

Transfer the face from app to watch

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Right, well, that's the hard part over. Select Facer or WatchMaker on your Android Wear watch and choose it from the scrollable list of watch faces.

Then head back to your mobile, choose the watch face you want and hit the 'Transfer to Watch' or 'Set Watchface' button. A little icon spinning later and, bingo, you've got the smartest smartwatch in town. Enjoy, and don't forget to try creating some watch faces of your own.

Customising Android Wear 2.0

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With the arrival of Android Wear 2.0, watch faces can have complications: small widgets that display information like the steps you've taken today or the current date, pulled from data provided by third-party developers (whether that's Spotify or Strava).

The Facer watch designer doesn't include complications yet, but you can edit them on existing faces from Google Play. Press and hold on your current watch face to enter edit mode (if it doesn't appear, the watch face doesn't currently support complications).

Scroll down to see your options, which may include the face colour and background image, depending on the watch face developer. Meanwhile, tap on any of the complication slots to bring up a list of possible widgets, based on the apps you've got installed.

You can, for example, have one of the complications showing a quick link to a favourite contact, readouts from Google Fit, the next item on your Google Calendar, an unread notification counter, or a link to a specific app on your smartwatch.

The available editing options are determined by the developer of the watch face, but there's far more flexibility with Android Wear 2.0


By

I'm a technology and sports journalist and writer with over 15 years experience. Most recently my role centres around monetising editorial in a content lead role at Future Publishing, writing for What Hi-Fi, TechRadar.

I'm also a published author and a presenter for both national radio and for video too. I've appeared on TV news channels, online videos, podcasts and I've worked for BBC Radio 2, Radio 4 and had a regular slot on BBC Asian Network as the resident gadget expert.

In a previous life, I was a professional actor. I also lectured at Harlow College on digital publishing for two years. Loves include skiing, cats, canoeing, singing and football.


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