Android Wear — LG G Watch

If you ordered a new Android Wear smartwatch — that'd be the LG G Watch or the Samsung Gear Live — you should see it very shortly, as early shipments are reaching doorsteps today. And on one hand (erm, wrist), these watches are simple creatures, devices on which to display the Android Wear software. But on the other hand (OK, OK, wrist), this is an entirely new platform for Android. It's familiar, but also very new, with a few idiosyncrasies.

So there are the watches, and then there's the software that's running on them.

So as you unbox your new watch today, there are a few things you need to know up front. We can help. In fact, we've already done so with our first list of 10 things you need to know about Android Wear. Today we're following up with a few other tips we've collected after a couple weeks of use. Some are basic. Some aren't. Enjoy.

Android Wear app

1. You'll need Android 4.3, the Android Wear app, and a Bluetooth connection

Let's start with the most basic of basics: To use your new Android Wear watch, you'll need to be running Android 4.3, and have the Android Wear app. If you haven't already done so, you can download the app through Google Play.

The app does a great job of walking you through the setup process, so we won't worry about that too much here. But the short version is it prompts you to connect your watch over Bluetooth, just like any other accessory. (And occasionally you might have to reconnect it to Bluetooth, like other accessories.)

2. Take a minute to go through the tutorial

We know, you've read all our Android Wear coverage so far. You know it all. But we'd still recommend paying attention to the tutorial in the Android Wear app. If you skipped over it, you can find it again in the overflow menu.

Android Wear apps

3. There already are a bunch of apps available for Android Wear

So you've got your watch — now what do you do with it? Notifications are fine and all, but it's time for some apps. Google is currently curating the best of the best, which you can find linked at the bottom of the Android Wear app, or see our list here. The way it works is that Android Wear functionality is baked into a traditional Android app, and the watch-specific stuff gets passed on to the device from the phone. One app to rule them all.

But it's worth noting that we're still very much in the early days of Android Wear apps, and there's a little bit of wonk going on. If you look at Google's curated list, you'll notice that every one of those apps is free. Paid apps apparently aren't working right just yet. That's a headache for devs and a boon for consumers.

There's also no proper way to create custom watch faces yet, which seems very strange.

Pebble Locker

4. Invest in Pebble Locker

We know, we know. You think Android Wear is way better than Pebble. (We've argued to the contrary, however.) But the Pebble Locker app is still very useful with Android Wear, turning your watch into a trusted Bluetooth device. With it you can have a PIN lock on your phone, but have that lock disabled while your phone is connected to your Android Wear device. (Yes, just like you can out of the box with a newer Motorola phone, and eventually with the L release of Android.)

Pebble Locker is free in Google Play, and an in-app purchase of $2.99 allows you to use more than one device to keep the phone unlocked.


5. Don't be afraid of a custom watch strap

If you've never changed a watch strap before, the prospect of swapping the stock one out for a custom job can sound a little scary. Tiny spring pins and tools that look like they belong in a dentist's office. Removing links with yet another tool.

But if I can do it, so can you. It's easy, and it takes just a few minutes.

And it makes your watch look so much better.

As we talked about on a recent podcast, however, the Samsung Gear Live can look a little off with a custom strap because of the way the watch body is designed. The LG G Watch is a little neutral in that respect. But custom straps are a relatively inexpensive way to make your Android Wear watch more comfortable, and look cooler.


6. Carry your charger with you if you can

We've been getting about a day's worth of use out of our watches, with less than 50 percent battery remaining at the end of the day. You'll want to charge up overnight. If you're moving between home and an office, however, you'll need to keep your charger with you. That's especially true if you've got the LG G Watch, as you'll need the charger (or a sharp point) to turn your watch on should it decide to conk out.

The good news is that the chargers for the G Watch and Gear Live take standard microUSB cables, so you only have to carry the base with you, and not a cable and wall wart.

7. Not all notifications have to hit your watch

We've got plenty of apps that have worthless notifications. You've got a couple options here. One is to disable those notifications in the app itself, which will keep them from appearing on the phone as well as the watch.

If you don't want to use that nuclear option, you can blacklist individual apps on the Android Wear device itself.

8. The basic Android Wear gestures

  • Swipe up to move down to the next card.
  • Swipe left to see actions for a given card.
  • Swipe right to get rid of a card.
  • Tap a card to read any overflow.
  • Tap the clock to get to the menu options.

Google Now

9. If you're not using Google Now, you've got to give it a shot

Chances are if you're an early adopter of Android Wear, you're using Google Now. But there are a few who have shunned Google's life-prediction service. But Android Wear is the perfect application for it. At a glance you can see how long it'll take you to get to home or work. Or what the weather is. Or when you need to leave to get to an appointment on time. It's not hidden behind another screen like it is on a phone.

You don't have to completely give yourself over to Google if you don't want to — and we'd argue that you're still not doing so by using Google Now. But it's definitely a service you should consider.


10. It's a great step tracker

If you don't want to be bothered with one of those fitness trackers, both the Samsung Gear Live and LG G Watch have proven to be excellent step trackers. In fact, you don't have to do anything. Just wear it, and it tracks your steps. Plus you'll get a seven-day history, so you can see how you're doing throughout the week. You also can choose to not show the step card if you prefer, and you can change the daily goal from the default 10,000 steps.

For more on Android Wear, be sure to check back at our Android Wear page, or swing by the Android Wear forums!


Reader comments

The first Android Wear watches arrive today — here are 10 more things you need to know


no i am pretty sure every video i have seen has people swiping to the left to bring up the actions. and swiping up to get to their notifications. etc. the way they have it in this article would be like swiping up to bring down the notification shade.

Its the difference between the motion and the UI.
Swiping "Right" in terms of UI is moving your finger from right to left.
Hope that helps.

Pebble Locker does not appear to support Android Wear devices. It didn't work for me, and then I found this on the app's page in the Play Store:

Device Support
Pebble Locker only supports bluetooth devices that show up in your list of paired devices. It does not currently support bluetooth low energy devices like a Fitbit.

EDIT: Hmm, and yet I see the watch in Phil's photo. That's strange.

It appears they do. I'm not sure what the issue is on my end, then.

EDIT: Well, I uninstalled / reinstalled / rebooted, and now it seems to be working. How strange.

that's not what Phil said. on a side note, AT&T rep today told me the G3 was coming out in 1-2 months and that they should be getting them soon. LOL.

I didn't see any at Best Buy this morning when I went. I was going to ask someone in the mobile department but I stood around for 15 minutes with no help and decided to go back tomorrow when their app says it'll be available.

Just spoke to Bestbuy on live chat and they said they have not received any from Samsung as of yet. Called the store as well with no love...

Pebble Locker doesn't seem to recognize my LG G Watch as being connected. Are you sure this works, Phil?

EDIT: Ah, so here's the answer:

Device Support
Pebble Locker only supports bluetooth devices that show up in your list of paired devices. It does not currently support bluetooth low energy devices like a Fitbit.

EDIT 2: Hmm, and yet I see the watch in Phil's photo. That's strange.

EDIT 3: Well, I uninstalled / reinstalled / rebooted, and now it seems to be working. How strange.

Is there a way to export the step data? The 7 day history is nice, but how can I check long term progress and trends?

My AC App signature lacks a witty comment.

So why is android wear such a power hungry OS? I just can't believe the fact that it only has one day battery life when Tizen gets 3+ days battery life... one day battery life is a deal breaker for me.
Posted via NEXUS 5

That's obviously false when the Tizen version of the Gear Live is the exact same hardware, yet gets 3 days of battery life.

And gear 2 has a camera and IR blaster lol so it makes it even harder to digest about poor battery life of android wear.

Posted via NEXUS 5

Most likely the answer is that Android Wear is heavily using Google Now and Google Services rather than the OS being overly battery hungry. I'm sure it'll get much better with each iteration. I'd rather have a smartwatch with great functions and usefulness over one with better battery life. That said, I don't plan on jumping into the smartwatch pool for a while so it has time to evolve. I barely had an interest until Android Wear at Google I/O though. Sammy early attempts were laughable.

The watch face is always on for these watches, while Samsung's Tizen phones turn off the display when you're not looking at them.

Well that sounds like an inherent OS problem to me. Do we even have an option to turn the screen off when not looking? Gear 2 wakes up with a gesture...

Posted via NEXUS 5

Actually, you can turn the screen off. In the Settings there's now an option "Always-on-screen" turn that to off and the screen goes dark when you're not using it.

Interesting.. i wonder if battery life would be significantly different with always on function is off... i guess is it wouldn't be tho.
Posted via NEXUS 5

Your swiping directions are reversed, semantically. You'd want to swipe FROM the left, or TO the right, to dismiss, swipe FROM the right or TO the left to see actions, swipe TOWARD the top or FROM the bottom for the next card, and swipe TOWARD the bottom or FROM the top to turn on DND mode.

And not to hate on Best Buy but anything beyond what's listed on that placard with the price tag they're clueless on. I'm not surprised they have no idea when these watches will hit their doors.

Posted via my SM-G900V

Sadly, this is exactly my experience. The mobile accessories department didn't have a clue what I was talking about when I asked them about the Gear Live. The Samsung mobile dept rep didn't have a clue either (which is just unacceptable... he has one department of one brand to worry about, and failed).

my samsung rep for target mobile knows about tha watch but doesnt kno if we will b able to sell them any time soon, most of tha people that work in these mobile stores and departments are sales people not real tech geeks like us so they dont know about products till they're trained on them

Yeah, Android Wear has us dorks excited, but it's not really a thing that a bunch of people are going to come in off the street to ask about. You can expect the BB guys to be reasonably well-informed about the next iPhone or Galaxy device, but they don't seem to get trained on anything that doesn't have huge popular appeal.

Called Best Buy and they said their system shows that they will have them in the stores... but not just yet. They aren't sure when they will be coming in. So no go. Glad I didn't cancel my Google Play Store order... that is showing it will ship tomorrow.

I had one ordered until I started reading that it was very difficult to view in bright sunlight and nearly impossible with polarized sunglasses. After that, I canceled my order and will wait to see how future devices work outside.

Just hold the watch closer to your face and you can read it pretty well in direct sunlight. Just like you would when you need to glance at your phone in sunlight. Same concept since they use the same screen technology. At least compared to my Samsung Gear Live watch (AMOLED).

I was just wondering if anyone can share which Google Now notifications this device offers that are not already available on Galaxy Gear?

Currently I am receiving Google Now push notifications for:

Current weather conditions
Travel time to home/work
Time to leave information for upcoming appointments
Google Wallet transactions

I'm trying to determine which notifications I would gain over my current GG if I purchased Android Wear? From a review of all the videos I've seen, I cannot see any notifications that I do not currently have.

i dunno all tha notifications that tha gear gets but im getting all tha ones u mentioned plus tv shows movie times, google map directions, groupme, emails, facebook, text, and google play music controls

Went to 4 Best Buys in town. None of them are carrying the smart watches. A majority of employees were clueless as to what I was talking about until they looked in their inventory systems. They will have then in stock Wednesday/Thursday.

Posted via Android Central App

Hey guys... If anyone has a fitbit and a g watch, I'm wondering if you've tested the 2 together. In other words are the step counts close to each other? I'm interested to learn if one is more accurate than the other. I have a fitbit pulse and my gwatch will be here Wednesday. So I'll find out soon enough on my own. But I'd still like to hear from someone in the know.

Posted via Android Central App

Please update the article. You CAN then the G Watch on without the charging base. The power button is small and recessed, but it's there - right next to the charging pads on the bottom of the watch.
Posted via Android Central App

I think I'm the only one who thinks that metal band is horrendous! I'm with Gerry, the Samsung looks the better of the 2.

Posted via Android Central App

i doubt it u kno how apple likes to play it safe and by tha time it comes out we will be getting updates that add more and better features and functionality

I can't figure out how to read a text on my Gear Live. I get a card at the bottom of the screen that just says "Messaging New Message." Nothing happens when I tap the card. All that happens when I swipe right to left is "open on phone." If I swipe left to right, the card goes away.

This is what I learned from a chat with Google Support. "The messaging app you are using (Samsung's messaging app is a third party app, created by Samsung) may not be updated to fully function with Android Wear yet. Hangouts is Android messaging app. At this time we need to test to see if when you use Hangouts for messaging on your phone. The watch is like any new technology, since the watches just released not all developers have caught up or updated their apps yet to be compatible with the wearable platform, this is why we have to test it with another app that we know is fully compatible to see if the issue is the watch or the app." Hangouts works!