Android Wear: the nine best free apps for Google's smartwatch

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Google’s smartwatches have only just arrived in the UK, but apps that show off what a good smartwatch can do have already appeared.

Running on Android Wear, Google's smartwatch-specific software, the best apps are beginning to show the potential for wearable gadgets. Here's nine of the best.


Dictating voice notes into your watch has never been so much fun. The Android Wear extension of Evernote allows users to pull up recent notes on their smartwatch – more useful than it sounds if you’re travelling and have book references and other things on your wrist – as well as dictate new notes without having to pull out a smartphone.

Google Keep

Google’s free Evernote competitor, Keep puts notes and lists on your wrist – great for shopping lists – and allows users to dictate new notes much like the Evernote app.


If This Then That, or IFTTT, is one of the most powerful services to grace smart devices and the web. It performs a set action if an event happens, like firing off a text message to your phone if you receive an email from your boss, or automatically uploading photos to Dropbox that you post to Instagram.

On the wrist IFTTT gives users a big button that triggers some user configurable action. Perhaps that’s turning off all the lights in your house, or sending a canned response to friends and family via text message. It could even turn off your Nest thermostat, if you have one installed. The possibilities are numerous.


Fitness trackers should be quaking in their boots right now, because smartwatches seem to be able to do pretty much anything they can do. Android Wear has built-in step counting (which I found a bit off compared to a Misfit Shine) but Runkeeper takes it a stage further offering much more information and run tracking.

It provides at-a-glance information on your run pace, distance and calorie burning, plugging into the existing service and app, which starts free with an option to upgrade to a monthly "elite" service for $9.99 (£5.85 in the UK) a month.

Runtastic is a similar app that does the same job and which one you pick up is probably determined by which one you already use on your phone.

Google Maps

Google’s built-in mapping for Android Wear works surprisingly well for walking directions, vibrating when it’s time to take another street complete with on-screen directions. It saves pulling out a smartphone and making yourself a mugging target when out on the street.

Wear Mini Launcher

Showing that Android Wear is just as adaptable on a smartwatch as Android is on a smartphone, Wear Mini Launcher is a custom application launcher for your watch.

To access apps normally you have to launch them via voice, or dig into the apps menu about three scrolls down within the Google search app. Wear Mini Launcher shows a draw of all the Android Wear apps installed on your smartwatch, which appears with a quick swipe from the top left.

The free app is so well integrated it looks like it should be baked into Android Wear; it even allows you to quickly adjust the screen brightness with a small slider.

Phone Finder

LG claims that the G Watch will still connect to a smartphone some 15m away, which gives quite a lot of potential for inadvertently leaving your phone behind somewhere while engrossed by something on your smartwatch.

Wear Aware – Phone Finder lets you know when you’re leaving your phone behind by buzzing on your wrist when out of range and allows users to trigger the phone’s alarm sound to find it if it’s buried in the sofa.


An app that shows the potential of Android Wear-powered smartwatches as part of the Internet of Things movement we’ve been heading towards for about 10 years.

Wear-a-tron is essentially a button on your watch that connects to a Lockitron-powered lock (a door lock controlled by a smartphone). One press and your door unlocks. Not particularly useful unless you have a Lockitron setup for your house, but shows that a smartwatch could be a great device for controlling and interacting with various connected devices as they become dotted around the home.

New apps appear on the Google Play store on a daily basis, so if you spot any good ones you think people should know about, tell us about them in the comments below.

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Powered by article was written by Samuel Gibbs, for on Monday 14th July 2014 15.17 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010