Just get Android Wear? These are the first 10 things you need to know!

Android Wear is a different way of doing things, but it's not overly difficult

Thousands of eager Android fans are picking up a LG G Watch or Samsung Gear Live today at Google I/O. And thousands more are awaiting theirs to arrive in just a couple short weeks after being ordered on Google Play.

It's Android all right, but it's a different kind of Android, designed to work on the small scale, with minimal touch input, all on your wrist. Android Wear also is still in its infancy. And while we're mostly impressed with what we see thus far, there's always some room for improvement. We've got some quality time with Android Wear under our belts already, and we're hear to help you on your way. First and foremost is that you'll need the updated Google Play Services 5.0 app, as well as the Android Wear app, which you'll use to set up the connection between your phone and your watch. (It's not unlike any of the other smartwatches in that respect, really).

That's the easy stuff. We'll help you through some more. (And check out this post if you need some help setting up your Android Wear.) If you're just getting your Android Wear device, we've worked up a list of the top 10 things you need to know right this second.

Need more Android Wear tips? Check out our next 10 things you need to know!

1. Your watch is listening

Speak to me

That it constantly says "OK Google" on the face should be a bit of a hint, but we'll forgive you if you overlook this one. Android Wear is heavy into voice activation. And so all you have to do is wake it with a tap, then start talking. It's that simple.

2. Tap the clock to do things, and swipe down to do more

Swipe down

Notifications are a big part of Android Wear, but they're just one part of Android Wear. No matter what watch face you've got on your Android Wear device, you can tap the clock to get to more options, including prompts of what you can say.

But if you don't want to talk to your watch, it's cool. Not everyone wanted to be Michael Knight when they were a kid, and that's OK. And if you don't want to talk to your Android Wear watch to get it to do things, you don't have to. Once you're on the search screen, just swipe down (as in flick your finger up) to scroll through the voice prompts. Keep scrolling even farther to get to your alarms, settings and any installed apps.

And speaking of apps, there aren't that many just yet. You'll find them at the very bottom, under "Start." So far we've got a compass, Android Fit, Google Keep, the remote control for Android TV, and a World Clock.

3. Swipe down to "mute" your watch

If you've got a notifications rolling in uncontrollably, and that buzzing vibration motor threatening to rip your arm off, it might be time to "mute" your phone. To do so, just drag down while you're on the watch face. (That's also an easy way to glance at the date and battery percentage.) When you want your watch to buzz you again, just repeat that swipe.

4. You can subdue the colors

The first batch of Android Wear is a full-color affair. That can be more harsh on battery life than something more more monotone, and Google's thought of that. Place your palm over the face of the watch to put it in "dark" mode. That temporarily lowers the brightness and removes some of the color. A simple tap (on the G Watch, anyway) will wake it.

If you'd prefer the watch display not be on all the time — as in full dark, no stars — that's an option both in the watch settings, and in the Android Wear app.

5. Developer options are available


Android Wear is a full version of Android. That means you can do things that you can on a phone or tablet, which also run full versions of Android. And that means Android Wear has hidden developer settings. To get to them, go to Settings>About and tap on the build number, just like you would a phone or tablet. From there, you can choose to (among other things) enable USB debugging, which then lets you have a little fun by placing the watch in its charging cradle, and then plugging the whole thing into your computer.

What can you do? All sorts of stuff. Take screenshots. You can easily enter the bootloader. You can unlock the bootloader with the fastboot oem unlock command. You can sideload apps. (Flappy Bird installed and immediately crashed, which is ironic when you stop to think about it.)

Again, this is a full but modified version of Android. If you can dream it, you can do it.

6. It's running Android 4.4W

In case you were wondering.

7. Swipe left to go back, right to go on

Another gesture you need to know: Flick to the right (as in if you're scrolling left) to go back a level or to exit out of an app. Some actions move you on further by swiping to the right. But left is what will get you out of trouble.

8. To change the watch face, hold down, or go to the settings

Watch faces

Two ways to change your watch face: The easiest is to just hold down on the current watch face, then scroll through.

The more manual method is to tap on the clock, then scroll down to the settings menu. Scroll down again to "Change watch face." Flick through them and find something you like.

9. Check the settings on the companion app

App settings

There are a few settings in the Android Wear companion app that are worth noting.

First is "Mute app notifications." This allows you to blacklist certain specific apps and keep them from sending notifications to your Android Wear watch. You have to pick them one at a time, though. We'd prefer checkboxes so that you can do more at once.

"Hide cards on dimmed screen" is another good one and can keep your watch looking more like a watch when it's dimmed.

And "Silence connected phone" will keep your phone from getting the alerts while your watch is connected. Or not. Your call.

10. Patience: More is on the way

Remember, Android Wear hasn't been officially released yet, and we're all lucky to get to play with it. We need developers to update their apps to serve as companions. (The Google Play listing for Android Wear apps points to more on July 7, which is what we were given as the street date for the LG G Watch.) And it wouldn't surprise us to see Google tweak things between now and then.

So if you've got a G Watch or Gear Live already, enjoy it. This is fun. And more is on the way.

Phil Nickinson
  • Any word on other OS compatibility?
  • I think that would have been a big part of the announcement if it were going to happen.
  • I agree, and think it would have been interesting had they made it compatible with other OS especially to try and maybe steal some sales from apples iwatch
  • I think the point of announcing it now was to beat Apple to the punch. This way people who are thinking about wearables are now a lot more likely to go with Android. Posted via Android Central App
  • They said clearly it requires Android 4.3 or higher.
  • Wow... these are powerful little devices.
  • Phil did you mean to say "got" in the heading? Posted via Android Central App
  • No, what he put is correct.
    Get it? Posted via Android Central App
  • Got it. Posted via Android Central App
  • Good Posted via Android Central App
  • "Get it?" "Got it?" "Good."
    That played out perfectly.
  • Should I sell my pebble steel? Posted via Android Central App
  • I wouldn't just yet, but that's me.
  • Which do you think for someone who has neither? Android wear is obviously more powerful, but will it actually be more useful? Maybe unfair to ask on day one lol. Posted via Android Central App
  • Thanks for your input. I try to resist the temptation of the LG G watch and to wait for the moto 360. Posted via Android Central App
  • For #8, they showed in the keynote that you can long press the clock to change the watch face. Is that not available on the watches they handed out?
  • Hell, you're right! Updating!
  • So does the G watch speak whale? Slightly more seriously, I wonder if that bootloader is nexus style easy to unlock... Posted via Android Central App
  • According to this post, it is.
  • Yep, it does say that. Not sure how I skipped over it the first time... Sorry! Posted via Android Central App
  • I noticed this is all on the G watch, but is the unlocking universal for all android wear watches or no. Asking because Samsung has the knox deal on most new products, curious if they would limit unlocking on this as well. This may be obvious, but I'll be first to admit to missing something key when reading a post excitedly.
  • First, they all will have KNOX baked in with this "L" release, maybe you missed that yesterday. Next I do not think that KNOX is part of AW, and I do not see it being that way with the way BT is.
  • #1 Should have been, you sucka- you should have waited for Moto 360.
  • Yeah, that doesn't really work for people who don't want a moto 360 though... Posted via Android Central App
  • Yes but Ratnok know what is best for all of us. We done messed up...
  • I'd say more like "Shoulda waited for reviews". I wouldn't want to choose between the Samsung and LG (and Mototrola) without comparisons. It's always possible the 360 will not be as good as people are expecting, although it does look pretty good. Certainly, I'd expect it to fit less information on the screen, due to the shape.
  • Will the watch work when a phone is not connected to it via Bluetooth? i.e. if I'm nowhere near my phone charger and the battery dies, will the Moto360 keep telling time, etc?
  • If it works like the Pebble, then I would imagine that time will continue to function but you won't get notifications (obviously) and most likely won't be able to do anything else that requires an internet connection since it connects through your phone. Think of the functionality on your phone when in airplane mode.
  • it should preform all the basic functions, but anything you might need the watch for obviously won't work (email, texts, notifications)
  • Thanks for not making me click through 11 pages to read your article!
  • i absolutely loath websites that do that. esp when on mobile versions.
  • The AC app doesnt make you do that...
  • Neither does their mobile or desktop site. we weren't being sarcastic
  • I got what you guys are saying(that this article is not like that at all) but what I am saying is that on articles that are like that, the app shows it as one page Posted via Android Central App
  • I can't wait for reviews of these watches, no way am i buying one without an editorial review. In all likelyhood I'll wait to see what the 360 price is but i'll admit the lg has my interest piqued
  • There's really not that much to "review" Posted via Android Central App
  • Well mostly I mean hardware wise, like how the screen is outdoors or in it's "always on" state, battery life, comfort, etc. I'm quite curious about the lg vs samsung with a those features. if the 30 extra for the lg is worth it.
  • As someone who got the LG watch this morning (not to brag much, but i was first in line :D), it started at ~95%. With always on, swiping away notifications, and just generally being amazed by and playing with it, it's now at 20% (this would make it about hour 14 or so, give or take the time it took to set up). Pretty decent battery life. The screen is very easy to see (though, I was indoors pretty much all day). It's not "comfortable" but only because I've rarely worn a watch lately; I'm not used to there being an object on my left wrist. Samsung has Heart Rate monitor and slightly bigger screen, but less battery.
  • How is the charging connector? There seems to be next to no press on this, and the wireless charging on the Moto is making me hold off for it as much as the roundness.
  • LG's dock is magnetic, while I believe Samsung's kind of "snaps on"; both are good. Also, it seems to charge really really fast. I did a test on the battery: from Friday around 10:30am EST until Saturday night midnight, I didn't charge the watch; it got to 4%, and even that lasted a few hours at the same level (I turned the screen off, though, and it was more so in standby mode for the last 8 or so hours). Then I went to charge it and after about ten minutes, it was already over 20%. Also, both charging docks are SUPER small, so in theory if you loosen the strap a bit you can still wear the watch while it's charging.
  • I want the 360 and im soo tired of waiting in secret. im not claiming im not gonna get it when it finally does become available but jeezz its already summer 2014 give us something!!
  • I'd guess they'll launch it alongside the new Moto X in August. This would generate extra buzz for both devices, especially if they offer a nice discount if you buy both together!
  • #11 should have been that AW works with all devices. That the Samsung only works with Samsung crap floating around yesterday was the biggest amount of misinformation going yesterday
  • The worst part being that the misinformation originated directly from Google play. Bad form. Posted via Android Central App
  • I understand the wording is misleading, but isn't all advertising? That is exactly why Samsung worded it way, to advertise for the phones. It doesn't say that it only works with Samsung, just that it does work with Samsung. People around here read into way to far Posted via Android Central App
  • It didn't say that it only worked with Samsung phones, but it certainly implied it. I have a reasonable grasp of how wear works, so I wasn't misled in the least. But I could certainly understand how someone actually dropping 170 quid/200 bucks on one would be given pause. This is a product page, not an advertisement. And there are actually laws against false or misleading advertisements anyway (whether they are followed or not). At least in the UK. Posted via Android Central App
  • I am in agreement with you overall, just wanted to say that first. I am with you that people with lesser knowledge may have pause to buy it. I do think that it was a bit misleading but you are wrong that this is not an advertisement. Every product page is an advertisement and part of selling stuff is upselling. Attempting to get you to buy another Samsung product at the same time as the watch. It can be said that they are not being misleading or false, they are touting it as a feature. Again I really do not agree with the terminology, but can understand it.
  • Definitely misleading, otherwise people wouldn't have been confused. Not unlike Samsung's reputational strong arm approach, sometimes illegal, that has served them well among the mass market, thus far. Cheat, lie, and steal then occasionally pay a fine.
  • I don't think the people that got android wear from attending I/O need an article with a click bait title. Why are you guys going in this direction? This sucks.
  • You realize people bought them yesterday right? Sure they do not have them yet but may need this article when they do. Not to mention when 'normal' consumers get them this is a perfect beginning guide for the non-geek Posted via Android Central App
  • I'm here at IO. And I'm pretty good at this stuff and still had to figure out a few things. Dude's just trolling. Posted via Android Central App
  • Does it have a speaker and can you play music from it, or is it only on phone?
    Can you turn it off? How do you turn it on if so?
    So developers coule make games for it like snake or other simple ones? Posted via Android Central App
  • No speaker. (At least on the G Watch.) Posted via Android Central App
  • So navigation is not voice activated? Posted via Android Central App
  • There's a microphone no speaker.
  • So when does the Android Wear App get released?
  • What happens if you get a phone call and accept it on the android wear device? Do you hear and talk into your watch or something?
  • With at least the G and 360 seemingly not having speakers, this is a good question. Posted via Android Central App
  • If it is like pebble it will answer the phone call, but you still have to use your phone. I personally only find it useful declining a phone call. If you are driving, you most likely have the controls to answer/decline on the steering wheel. The only time I answer (make the call be answered on my phone) is if I am far away and do not think I will make it before it stops ringing.
  • Phil, Do you think you could put a Nato strap on the G Watch and still be able to charge it in the charging cradle?
  • Hey Phil - we actually make NATO bands specially made for Android Wear. They won't interfere with charging or your heart rate monitor... SouthernStraps.com Hope that helps!! :)
  • Yea if I heard right people at I/O got it all. G Watch and Gear live now and Moto320/360 when it becomes available. That is awesome and I/O had just started. haha
  • I am yet to get overly excited about these smart watches but i do think there is a lot of room for improvement and at some point i could see me interested in the purchase.
  • Hi there. I followed the link you have to setup Android Wear, but I can't find the Android Wear app on the Play store. Is this a recent issue? Or am I missing something?
  • Aside from your misuse of irony, I enjoyed this article.
  • I have a butterfly 901e , a nexus 4 , and a nexus 7 2013 none of them are picking up the Google Play Services 5.0 , all my devices are on version 4.8.20. I have my LG watch here with the Android Wear app installed and all seems to be working fine. I have tried pulling Google Play Services update logged in to google play from the desktop , but it says all my devices are up to date. Where are you guys getting the 5.0 from ?
  • Is there a setting that I can configure so that if I answer with the watch, the phone automatically turns on speaker phone?
  • use the app "trigger" for this
  • Good article. I picked up my LG G Watch R on Friday and have been getting used to it this weekend and learned a trick or two by reading the article. The G Watch R is exceeding my expectations. Display is beautiful and the vibrating alarm helps me catch calls and texts I might have missed. The thing I most like about the software driven SmartWatch is that is will improve over time. I've been in IT full time since 1981 and have seen a few changes. The Google Android developers community has shown a phenominal capacity for innovation and it will be fun to see what all those creative people come up with. I'm very happy with my purchase.