What can Android Wear do? Here's all the best features explained, with tips and tricks

The world's first Android Wear watches have begun to launch for consumers, and that means it is time to review all the best features and hidden gems buried within Google's operating system for wearables. This is everything you need to know.

Let's just start by clarifying that Android Wear is Google Now - for you wrist. It integrates Now-like functionality with notifications from your phone to make a new experience that's both glanceable and simple.

In fact, Pocket-lint has detailed exactly how easy Android Wear is to learn and navigate. We've also included some nifty tips and tricks and instructions on how to set up your new watch as soon as it arrives.

If you want to find out more about Android Wear, keep reading.

Set up

Getting started with your Android Wear watch is easy. You must make sure you have the latest version of Google Play Services, then download the Android Wear app from Google Play on to your Android phone, and pair your phone to your new Android Wear watch.

Once that's done, visit your phone settings and give your watch permission to access your notifications. After you've allowed access, everything that shows up on your phone shows up on your watch.

You can also set different actions for different voice commands using settings in the Android Wear app. Other app settings worth noting include the ability to mute app notifications, hide cards on dimmed screen, and silence connect phone. Make sure to browse through them all when you have a chance.

Note: Both the Android Wear app and the Play Services update will be made available before the full launch on 7 July.

Also, Android Wear is designed to work with Android phones running 4.3 or higher. If you're not sure what version of Android you have, visit g.co/wearcheck on your phone to see if it’s compatible with Android Wear.

Interface

Android Wear looks a lot different from Android for mobile devices, because the interface was designed specifically for wearable devices. The operating system is built around micro-interactions and is meant to be glanceable.

Watchface - You won't see a grid of apps every time you glance at your watch but rather a main watchface. It's the first thing you see before navigating to other features buried within the watch. Although Google offers a variety of watchfaces for you to use (sort of like wallpaper), manufacturers can offer different custom-designed watchfaces for their watches too.

Context Stream - From the watchface, you can access something called the context stream by swiping upward. The stream shows all of your informational cards like notifications from Google and third-party apps. It is called context stream because it's contextual. That means, if you receive a text from someone, you will see the sender's photo behind the text.

Notifications - Most notifications appear as Google Now-style cards in your stream, and you can't re-organize them in the stream (other than dismiss them). Some notifications might also appear as notification stacks and notification pages, because they are enhanced for Android Wear.

Multiple notifications are grouped into stacks, whereas notification pages are simply notifications with further detail. You can tap on a notification stack to view each notification separately, and you can swipe through notification pages to read your entire notification in full over many pages.

Notifications sync between your companion device (such as Android phone) and your Android Wear watch.

Actions - You can respond to notifications or engage with cards in the stream using actions. Actions get things done. If you have an unread message, for instance, you can touch the notification card and then tap the reply action button to respond.

Search - This feature is what makes Android Wear really shine. Just say "OK Google" from the watchface to perform all sorts of things using your voice. You can search the web, send a text message, leave a note, set an alarm, and more. In addition, from this screen, you can scroll through available options. Keep scrolling to see settings and a Start menu (which shows any installed Android Wear apps).

Apps

There aren't a lot of Android Wear apps available at the moment. The operating system is still new however, so we can cut Google some slack.

A few of Google's own Android Wear apps include Google Now, Google Hangouts, Gmail, Google Keep, Google Maps, and Google Calendar. As for third-party Android Wear apps, the following apps were just introduced at this year's I/O conference: PayPal, Soundwave, Pinterest, Allthecooks, Eat24, Lyft.

Keep checking back for updates. Pocket-lint will add more notable Android Wear apps to this list.

Features

This is an overview of everything you can do with Android Wear.

Before checking out all the features, just remember Google wants you to use your voice. You can complete practically any task or access any feature by saying "OK Google" - and then following up with something like "remind me to...", "send text message to", etc.

Just say aloud what you want to do, and most of the time, a Google Now-like card will appear on your display with related options. It's easy.

Productivity - Android Wear helps you get things done. You can use your watch to set reminders, take notes, set alarms and timers, use the stopwatch, check your schedule, and control music, and more. Instructions for each task are available here.

Communicate - Android Wear lets you read and reply to texts and messages. You can also read and reply to emails, view incoming calls, and send pre-written text messages if you can’t answer an incoming call. Instructions for each task are available here.

Travel - Android Wear helps you get around. You can use it to hear turn-by-turn navigation, bring up traffic information, find a place or business, and
even check your flight or hotel reservations. Instructions for each task are available here.

Answers - Because Android Wear is like Google Now for your wrist, you can say "OK Google" to ask quick questions. You can then get quick responses in the form of informational cards. You can get sports scores and schedules, check the weather, see the time in other time zones, translate words or phrases, get calories counts, look up words, check stocks, convert between units, solve math problems, find out about events, and look up random facts. Instructions for each task are available here.

Fitness - Depending on your watch and its hardware, Android Wear lets you track fitness data. You can see how many steps you take each day, set simple goals for steps, and check your heart rate. Instructions for each task are available here.

Navigation

Android Wear supports a plethora of different gestures. Some of the gestures listed below are standard ones Android Wear developers have openly discussed in developer advocate videos on YouTube (there are likely even more gestures that haven't been detailed yet). Keep in mind third-party app developers must implement specific Android Wear code for these gestures to work with their apps.

General rule - The general for navigation in Android Wear is...swipe left to go back, or swipe right to go forward. When all else fails, this gesture gets you where you want to go.

Exit apps - When finished viewing an app and its content on your Android Wear device, you can exit the app with a quick gesture. Just long press on the display. An exit button then appear as an overlay above the app. You must tap the exit button to confirm.

Dismiss content (apps, notifications, and actions) - You can easily dismiss content - such as apps, notifications, or even an action menu - by swiping the content away from your view. Tap on the left side of the display, then pull to the right, and release.

Access actions - When viewing a notification or card, you can easily access any related action. An unread message notification, for instance, would have a reply action available. To use actions, tap on the right side of the notification or card, then pull to the left, and release. A separate screen (or actions menu) should immediately appear with all of your action options.

Access the context stream - You can view all of your notifications via informational cards in the context stream. To access this stream, swipe up from your watchface. Continuing to swipe will reveal additional notifications and cards.

Expand cards: Sometimes cards are too long to read in snippet view, especially on smaller Android Wear screens. To view and read an entire card in full (expand it), simply tap on the card.

View multi-page notifications: An app might sometimes push a single notification to you with extra detail to read. On Android Wear, this type of lengthy notification won't expand in full but instead lets you scroll through multiple pages. To scroll through multii-page notifications, tap on the notification and start swiping from the right. Indicators at the bottom tell you what page you're viewing.

View notification stacks: An app might sometimes push multiple notifications to you and display them in a stack (aka group). To expand the stack and see all of your notifications at once, tap the stack. You can then sift through the notifications separately.

Send replies: Android Wear offers the ability to respond to messages/emails with your voice or a selection of pre-set choices. Navigate to the message, then access the action menu, and select reply or quick reply. When finished composing a reply, you must confirm you want to send the message.

Extras

The list below features additional tips and tricks.

Change watchfaces - Android Wear lets you change watchfaces. Just hold down on the watch face, and then you'll be able to scroll down to settings and choose "Change watchface." Swipe left or right to view all the available watchfaces on your watch. When finished browsing, tap one to select and set it.

Mute - If you have notifications coming in constantly and don't want to be bothered by vibrations or sounds, you can mute your watch. To do so, just swipe down while you're on the watchface. Repeat the swipe to unmute.

View battery percentage and date - Wondering how much battery you have left? Swipe down while you're on the watchface to see your battery percentage and the date. This gesture mutes your watch however, so repeat to unmute.

View options - Tap the watchface to view options, including prompts of example voice commands and simple tasks, touch anywhere on the watchface. You can also say "OK Google" to bring up a search screen, and then scroll down from this screen to see things like alarms, settings, and installed apps.

Speak to view settings: If your screen is dim, touch the display to wake up the watch. From there, say “OK Google" followed by “settings".

Dim the screen - To dim your watch, put your palm completely over the screen until it vibrates.

Stop specific notifications - You can stop specific apps from showing up on your watch using the Android Wear app. Go to settings, then Mute app notifications, and tap the Plus icon. You can then tap the app you want to block.

Silence connected phone - If you want your phone to stop making sounds when your watch is connected, open the Android Wear app and go to settings. Tap the box next to “Silence connected phone" - and you're done.

Start stopwatch - You can start the stopwatch on your watch from most screens. Just say “OK Google, start stopwatch”.



>