Google has finally made it easy for people to find, download, use apps for its new Android Wear operating system.
The company has simultaneously updated all Android devices to Google Play Services 5.0 and launched an Apps for Android Wear section on the Google Play Store. If you're interested in Google's first foray into the wearables market as well as how you can get access to the first Android Wear apps, keep reading.
Pocket-lint has detailed everything you need to know and provided resources that will get you started with Android Wear straightaway.
Preparing for Android Wear
Google Play Services 5.0
Google has said from the start that you can't properly use Android Wear apps until you've updated Google Play Services on your device to version 5.0. Both the Android Wear app and the Google Play Services update were expected to roll out before the full launch of Android Wear on 7 July.
On 2 July, Google announced it updated devices worldwide to Google Play Services 5.0. Apart from introducing support for Android wearable services, which includes the ability to sync data, exchange control messages, and transfer assets between apps on a compatible smartphone and Android Wear watch, the update featured a number of improvements for apps and features like Cast, Drive, Wallet, etc.
You won't have to do anything to get this important update. Nearly all devices running Android 2.3 Gingerbread through to 4.4 KitKat that connect to the Google Play Store (99.02 per cent, to be exact) have already updated.
You can watch the video above if you'd like more information on Google Play Services 5.0. It's a video for app developers though - so expect a lot of tech jargon.
Android Wear app
In an attempt to unify the many Android Wear watches that will presumably pop up in the coming years, Google has introduced a companion app that works with all Android Wear watches. It launched on the Google Play Store as a free download on 2 July, allowing you to configure various settings and voice actions.
Specifically, the Android Wear app lets you adjust notifications preferences, implement various voice actions for things like the alarm, timer, or agenda, and more. Manufacturers sometimes make it confusing for you to set-up their wearables, but Google didn't want that with Android Wear. It wanted simplicity. The idea is that the Android Wear app would make it easy for you to configure an Android Wear watch, no matter who made it.
You can download Android Wear on your Android smartphone or tablet straightaway, and then use it to fine-tune your Android Wear watches from LG, Motorola, and Samsung (when they finally arrive at your doorstep).
Finding apps for Android Wear watches
Apps for Android Wear on Google Play Store
Developers have already started to publish their apps for Android Wear, though unfortunately, it's been extremely tedious and difficult for people to find them on the Google Play Store. Until today, that is.
Google has just launched a dedicated section on its app store for Android Wear apps. Currently, there are more than 20 apps listed on a single page. The collection includes apps from both Google and third-party developers. Keep in mind there are notable apps still missing from the page (such as Evernote).
Google clearly has to finish putting all Android Wear apps into one place, but for now, it's a handy little hub to access and browse. At the moment, navigating to the collection only seems to work through a URL. Visitors to the Google Play Store won't find a dedicated section on the home page just yet.
There aren't enough Android Wear apps available on Google Play to start pitting them up against each other (and we haven't yet had the chance to fully test them on Android Wear watches).
That said, a few apps have grabbed a lot of headlines in recent weeks and are worth mentioning. Those apps include PayPal, Soundwave, Pinterest, Allthecooks, Eat24, Lyft, Maps, Hangouts, and Runtastic.
How do you use Android Wear?
Just remember this: Android Wear is like Google Now - for you wrist.
The new operating system integrates Now-like functionality with notifications from your phone to make a new experience that's both glanceable and simple. Pocket-lint has detailed exactly how easy Android Wear is to learn and navigate. We discussed everything from the interface basics to the different types of supported gestures. We also mentioned some nifty tips and tricks and instructions on how to set up your new watch as soon as it arrives.