The best Android Wear apps of 2014

Google's wearable platform is off to a great start with apps like these.

best wear apps main image
Off to a good start

Android Wear hasn’t even had its first birthday, but already developers have stepped up to embrace Google’s wearable platform. There are apps for just about everything, even tasks you shouldn’t be doing on a watch. There are, however, plenty of things a smartwatch is great for. Here are the apps that made Wear’s first few months awesome.

wear mini
Wear Mini Launcher

It’s strange that Google has yet to address how horrifically unpleasant launching apps on Android Wear can be. You can either go by voice, and hope the app has a name you can pronounce, or find your way to the actions list after dismissing a voice command.

Wear Mini Launcher is so much easier. It’s a scrollable panel of your apps that can be pulled up with a swipe gesture from the edge of your choice. There are appearance options, layout tweaks, and more. There’s even a quick settings panel built-in. The developer is committed to making Mini Launcher better, and it’s free with optional in-app donations.

Wear Mini Launcher (Free)

attopedia
Attopedia

Browsing the web on Wear is an exercise in futility, but if you just need to find a specific piece of information, Attopedia could save you some time. Simply open this app and search by voice for a topic.

Choose from the presented Wikipedia listings and swipe to get through the various sections, which is better than scrolling through the whole article. That would get into just-use-a-phone land. 

 Attopedia (Free)

pixtocam
PixtoCam

Google hasn’t built support for cameras into Android Wear, possibly because of the perception problems it had with Google Glass. You can still use your watch as a remote shutter for your phone camera, but that's not especially useful on its own.

PixtoCam is more than a remote shutter, which is already included in the official Google Camera app. The app streams the viewfinder to your watch so you can frame a shot and capture it on your wrist. It’s also handy for shooting video and just looking behind things. It’s $2 well spent. 

PixtoCam ($2)

find my phone
Find My Phone

An Android Wear watch is many things, but at the most basic level, it's just a Bluetooth device connected to your phone. If it disconnects unexpectedly, that could mean you've left your phone sitting somewhere—or perhaps your phone is walking away without you.

Find My Phone will instantly vibrate the watch to let you know communication with the phone has been lost. You can also launch the app to make your phone ring if it's within Bluetooth range (perfect for the next time it goes on an adventure in the couch cushions). The developer has been keeping up with bug fixes and new additions too. The free version has the general features, but a $1 in-app purchase unlocks all the settings.

Find My Phone (Android Wear) (Free, in-app purchase)

wear apps tracker
Wear Apps Tracker

Android developers can package Wear apps with standard Android applications, and Android Wear doesn’t alert you when a new app is installed. Wear Apps Tracker does exactly that.

Each time an app is installed, updated, or removed, you’ll get a card notification on the watch. No one has yet figured out a better way to do this, so Wear Apps Tracker is definitely a top app in 2014.

Wear Apps Tracker (Free)

wear tip
Wear Tip Calculator

Okay, the bill was $64.50, and there are three of you. Assuming a 20% tip, how much does everyone owe? You can do the math the old fashioned way or go for your phone, but Wear Tip Calculator offers a third option.

Just a few taps on your watch and you can split a check complete with tip. You can use it on round or square watches, but it looks best on round ones. You drag the marker around the edge of the screen to adjust the bill, add the tip, then split it up. It’s slick, and you can try it for free. The splitting functionality is unlocked with a $2 in-app purchase.

Wear Tip Calculator (Free, in-app purchase)

facer
Facer

While Google has finally rolled out official support for Android Wear watch faces, Facer was offering similar functionality months ago. This app lets you download, design, and modify a huge number of watch faces. Facer can display both analog and digital faces with data like battery level, date, and weather. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but it’s a very powerful app for just $1. It also already has support for the new official watch face API.

Facer ($1)

staylit
StayLit Wear

Android Wear has a short screen timeout in order to save battery, which is usually fine. However, it can be quite maddening if you want to look at something for more than a few seconds without touching the screen. StayLit Wear allows you to manually extend the screen timeout by as much as 30 seconds. That will eat into your battery, so it’s not the sort of thing you’d want to leave on all the time, but it can be indispensable when the need does arise.

StayLit Wear: Longer Backlight ($1)

aeris weather
Aeris Wear Weather

Many Android weather apps have very basic Android Wear integration, usually in the form of a card that really just duplicates the functionality of Google Now. Aeris Wear Weather is unique in that you actually get a weather app on the watch that can be launched when you need more information. It contains current conditions, hourly/daily forecasts, and weather radar. It’s free with a $1 in-app purchase to get the radar and severe weather alerts.

Aeris Wear Weather (Free, in-app purchase)

pujie black
Pujie Black

Pujie Black is another custom watch face that has managed quite well even without the final watch face APIs. This watch face comes with a companion phone app that can be used to tweak just about every aspect of the UI. You can choose between analog and digital time, or even a mix of them. Colors, weather, and ambient mode layout are also configurable. It’s the best single watch face you can get on Android, and it’s only $1.27. 

Pujie Black ($1.27)