40 best Android Wear smartwatch apps 2015
Android Wear apps 1-10
Although Apple Watch captured headlines when it appeared, Android Wear had a year's head start on it and continues to tick along nicely, with its May update now rolling out across compatible devices, making it more powerful than Apple's Watch in many respects.
The flow of devices may have slowed to a gentle trickle, but the likes of Sony's Smart Watch 3, LG's G Watch Urbane and Motorola's Moto 360 continue to fly the flag for Google's wearable OS.
There are now hundreds of apps available for the OS, augmenting your Android Wearable's powers beyond the standard notifications 'n' fitness realm. Some are decidedly lacklustre, but to help you avoid the real chaff, we've picked 40 of our favourites, in no particular order…
Take all the settings from your phone that you often need to flip on and off quickly, such as airplane mode, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and silent mode to name just a few, and transfer them to your watch face in one handy group. You can also check your battery life and see how much data you're using, all on the same screen.
One of the simplest yet key USPs of a smartwatch is being able to customise the display. This app lets you pick from a packed gallery of round or square faces from the WearFace community - http://wearfaces.com/featured/ - and you can also create and share your own designs. An essential first purchase for any new Android Wear user.
Wear Mini Launcher
Opening and using an app on an Android Wear device can be fiddly; this takes the hassle away by letting you quickly launch any app without heaps of scrolling and swiping. It also helps you quickly access settings, such as brightness, Wi-Fi and ringtones for your smartphone, while granting access to loads of customisation options. Hundreds of thousands of downloads can't be wrong.
You know the deal: swipe right to like, left to pass, like a horny modern day Roman Emperor. But what you might not know is that the phenomenon that is Tinder and Android Wear is a match made in heaven. Just say "Start Tinder" to start swiping, send messages and view profiles all from the privacy of your wrist.
Named as one of Google's best apps of 2014, IFTTT stands for "If This Then That" and lets you link your 'Channels' - i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Gmail etc - by creating 'Recipes'. So, for instance, you can set things up so when you like an Instagram photo it's instantly saved to your Dropbox. You can do this, get alerts and more straight from your Wear device.
WatchMaker Premium Watch Face
Build up a collection of watch faces for your Wear device, complete with animations, calendars, multiple time zones, stopwatches, countdowns to special occasions… anything you can think of. There are thousands to choose from and up to eight new designs are added to the collection each week.
We love this Tetris-style block game for its simple, retro-futuristic Tron-ish graphics. The game itself is a classic format - drop the 4-block bricks to form complete lines to clear them and net yourself a high score - but it's no less addictive for its familiarity. You can also check the time while you play, which had us sold. That and the fact it's free.
A charmingly simple premise, Yo allows you to "get notified about the things you love as they happen". You can add links to your Yos and also Yo your location to your contacts. You can also Yo your location to specific Yo-collaborating accounts which will tell you the best places to go near you. When it's this easy, there's no excuse to be a recluse.
Open the Mini Dialer app or say 'Open Mini Dialer' and you can then initiate phone calls from your watch. You can access your contacts, speed dial preferences and call log, or simply use the number pad to make an outbound call. End phone calls with a tap and set it up to enable auto speakerphone, all while your phone stays safely tucked in your pocket.
Android Wear apps 11-20
Evernote for Android Wear
Loads of you will be long-time Evernote fans and won't want to use Google Keep, the default note app for Wear devices. Well, you needn't have to. Evernote for Android Wear lets you create notes through voice command, check off to-dos by tapping your watch or find notes by speaking the text that you're looking for. Simple and highly effective.
Wear Store for Wear Apps
If you've just got your Wear device you'll probably go to the Google Play store to have a browse, or you can come to us, but you should also download Wear Store, a handy service that lays out all the Wear apps in easy-to-navigate categories, from time added, name, rating, function and ratings. It also has video reviews and handy tips.
With a five star average over 4,000+ ratings, everyone is raving about this excellent weather app. Its main focus is to present the weather conditions in three formats: the next hour, next 48 hours and next week. Colours play an important role in giving you a quick insight into the mood of the weather gods and you can even check what the weather was like decades ago, if you wanted to.
Golf Swing Analyzer
Record your golf swing at up to 200 samples per second, then receive data reports on your swing speed, tempo, swing plane, impact angle, path, grip angle and power. You can also download a visualisation of your swing in 3D and rotate to view it at any angle. There's no hardware to buy, no calibration and you don't need to change any settings when you change club.
This app spells the end to leaving the house without your phone, as when you and your handset become unbearably far apart your watch will start buzzing in a mad panic. It also doubles as a phone locator; just say "OK Google, start Phone Finder" and your mobile will start sounding an alarm signal, even if you've got it switched to silent mode.
In one hand you have your phone - displaying the virtual tennis court - and your other arm (the one with the watch on it) is where you hold your invisible racket. You can then play a game of tennis, Kinect-style, either solo or against someone else using their own phone and Wear device. Your phone and Wear will work together to sense how hard you're hitting the ball and, naturally, in what direction.
Memory Info for Wear
And now without any fanfare whatsoever: Memory Info for Wear. This app has no bells and is also completely devoid of any whistles. All it does is simply provide information about internal memory for your Android Wear Device. To switch to a more detailed analysis, click on one of the icon on the main screen. Pleasingly straightforward.
Invaders (Android Wear)
An unofficial Wear version of the late-70s Japanese arcade classic, Invaders will keep you hooked for hours. All you have to do is tap to move the spaceship and fire in a bid to destroy all aliens before they reach the ground. Your spaceship can take two extra hits before being destroyed and there are hidden modes to be uncovered.
This fitness app helps you manage your work and rest times, whether you're cycling, running, weight lifting, stretching or boxing. It has a simply, intuitive interface, letting you set repetitions and rest times with ease. You can set hours, minutes and seconds, and pause, resume and reset with a few taps. An essential bit of gym kit.
Flashlight for Android Wear
"OK Google, start Flashlight". And just like that, your Wear watch will glow like the sun itself, helping you guide your key into the front door after a late night or lighting your path to the bathroom at 3am without waking your partner. As one of the 548 five-star reviews says, "Not a lot to say - this app does one thing but it does it well".
Android Wear apps 21-30
Wear Fitness Personal Trainer
A PT on your wrist, this app counts your reps automatically using your watch's motion sensors - so, for example, as you do press ups it'll keep a log of how many - and creates exercise routines based on your fitness level, customised for weight loss, strength, cardio or muscle building which you can follow by watching videos of the routines as performed by a world-renowned personal trainer.
Timeish Watch Face
We're about half way through our list. Time for a silly (but still great) one. If you're not overly fussed about punctuality and like a more relaxed life, then this is the watch face for you. It tells you the time like you'd tell someone else the time, e.g. "getting on for eight", "almost nine", "well past eleven", "dinner" and "twoish". Don't worry, it'll still tell you the exact time too, you big square.
Wear Audio Recorder
Handy for recording conversations, lectures and meetings, as well as any thoughts, song lyrics or poems that your mind may spring on you throughout the day. It's all very simple, just start and stop the recording as you wish and then scroll through a list to revisit previous recordings. You can share, delete and rename them as you see fit, and it also works when the screen is off, for covert missions.
Over a million Android users swear by this location-tracking app, which lets you keep in touch with friends and family, helping you safely find and notify of your exact whereabouts. The Android Wear optimisation lets you view any active Glympse simply by swiping, and you can easily send info to social media accounts and to your contacts without touching your phone.
Harking back to the mathematical Casio wristwear of yore, which what many of us would consider our first foray into the world of the 'smartwatch', WearCalc lifts the burden of complex sums and restaurant tip calculations from your phone and gifts the responsibility to your timepiece, complete with a stylish, clean design.
Another of Google's picks for best apps of 2014, Duolingo on Android Wear lets you learn another language on the go, for free. You basically earn achievements by answering linguistic conundrums correctly in fun, bite-size lessons. The Android Wear application keeps it simple, displaying flashcards for you to have a go at when you're, say, on the bus. Take enough bus rides and one day you'll realise you're fluent in French.
Advanced Wear Visualizer
Designed purely for aesthetic fun, this app features 42 different music visualizers that bounce and twist along to your tunes, to mesmerise and celebrate your smartwatch's vibrant screen. Simply swipe left or right to switch the pattern and swipe vertically to increase or decrease the sensitivity. Yes, it's a simple premise, but sometimes they're the best. Try the 8-visualizer free version for size first.
Golfshot: Gold GPS
Placing aerial flyovers, precise yardages and statistics to more than 40,000 golf courses onto your wrist, it's no wonder that golfers around the world rely on Golfshot to improve their handicap. Android Wear support means you don't have to hold your phone while you take your swing, something we find improved our game immeasurably.
This apps lets you view and control front and rear cameras from your watch to take snaps and videos, regardless of whether your phone is on or off. Just voice command "start viewfinder" to launch, double tap to zoom and easily set flash, light torch or activate the self-timer. It's also "Spy Ready", so no shutter sound or phone notifications when in use.
A clearly laid-out, easy to read running app for joggers who don't like fiddling with their phone but who also don't like the complication that some dedicated running watches present. Features include one-tap operation, start and stop with voice commands and easily viewable time, distance and calorie stats. Over 40 million registered users are ready to be out-healthed by you.
Android Wear apps 31-40
Find My Phone
Just because you may not always need your phone these days, you still want it nearby at all times. Stray too far from it and, thanks to this app, your Wear watch will start buzzing. Tap "tap to find!" and, even when on silent, your phone will launch into the alarm and visual signals you've set it up with, leading you quickly back into its metallic, cold embrace.
Android Wear 2048
One of the most popular Android apps of last year, the Android Wear version brings a simpler 4x4 square interface to this highly addictive puzzler. Swipe to move the tiles; when two tiles with the same number touch, they merge into one. The aim is to get higher sums and when a 2048 tile is created, the game is won. Double tap to display your current score.
Android Wear apps 30-40
Wear Tip Calculator
If you're exacting enough to want to work out the precise 12.5% of your bill, but polite enough not to want to go waving your phone around the table, the Wear Tip Calculator offers a discreet alternative. Just type in your bill, then the tip percentage, et voila, the total amount you need to pay. And everyone thought you were just checking the time.
InstaWeather for Android Wear
Choose from multiple attractive weather faces, satellite view (visible and infrared) and have 24-hour forecasts a wrist lift away. Receive notifications if a shower's heading your way, with distance details included. There's also the option to run in low power mode so your obsession with meteorology doesn't drain your battery.
If you want to become generally a bit more active without having to wear a secondary tracker or fitness band, Google Fit - now compatible with all Android Wear devices, as you'd expect - can provide just the motivation you need. Set daily goals for over 100 activities and control them from your watch. It'll connect to third-party apps to keep all your data in one place.
Task Manager for Android Wear
It's easy to lose track of what's running on a relatively small screen. Task Manager cleanly lists all programmes and processes running on your watch, helping you stop tasks easily and quickly, saving you potentially hours of battery life. Just say "Start Task Manager"and take it from there. You can even close all opened tabs with one tap of the "Close all" button.
An addictive falling bricks game, TetroCrate (sounds familiar…) challenges you to drag blocks around, spin them and land them to fill spaces without leaving gaps. Guess what happens when you create a gap-free line? Yep, bye bye line, hello points. A old-school concept for a cutting edge device, and - partly because it's attached to our arm - we can't put it down.
Simple games, clever watch faces, a simple weather app… all sound like the sort of thing smartwatches are designed for, but the idea of using wristwear to browse Wikipedia seems bananas. That is until you try Attopedia, which manages to take one of the most text-heavy websites going and make it easy to navigate on a tiny screen. Great for cheating at quizzes, too.
Calculator for Android Wear
The first and best calculator app for Android Wear received an update in March, making it slicker than ever. Carry out simple calculations on the go, or switch to scientific functions to go all Beautiful Mind with trigonometric functions, logarithmic functions, exponential functions, modulo operation, constants pi and e and square root function.
Billed on Google Play as "an experimental game inspired by a certain other Bird-based game", the graphical style and aim of this side-scrolling title will probably ring some bells (hint: it's Flappy Bird). Fine tuned for Android Wear devices, you must navigate a floppily limbed droid through a series of pipes to rack up the points. So long, social life, we hardly knew ye.