Did you get a shiny new Android Wear smartwatch for Christmas? Lucky you. How’s it going? Presumably, you’ve gotten as far as downloading the Android Wear app and pairing your watch with your handset. Now, it’s time to get a bit more advanced and take advantage of some of the many things you can do. Here are our 20 favourite Android Wear hidden tips and tricks to help you make the most of your new toy, whether for work or play.
Change the face
Change the face on your Android Wear watch simply by holding a finger down on the face that is showing. You can then scroll through the various pre-installed faces and tap one to use it.
Download new faces
If you aren’t excited by the faces supplied with your watch check out the Play Store for more. Some just add a new look, some are data driven and connected to apps. Take a look, for example, at InstaWeather for Android Wear which offers different watch faces for different kinds of weather information. Then explore the store for other kinds of data carrying faces that appeal to you.
We have a list of 21 gorgeous Android Wear faces for you to peruse.
Make your own face
If there’s nothing that really appeals to you on your watch or on the Play Store, then consider one of the tools that lets you make your own face. For example, Watch Faces for Android Wear, which is not only a vast gallery of watch faces but also a face editor with enough options to keep anyone who likes to ring the changes happy.
Use Cinema mode
Cinema Mode turns off the display and all notifications. It’s great for when you are at the movies, but also ideal when you don’t want to be disturbed or if you really need to conserve power if it is getting low. If your watch has a side button give it a double tap to set Cinema mode going. If there’s no side button swipe down then from right to left till you see the Cinema Mode screen. Tap to turn it on. To turn Cinema mode off press the watch side button once or make multiple screen taps.
Check battery level
Your Android Wear watch might have a couple of days of battery life. To check the current battery status open Android Wear on your Android device, tap the Settings ‘cog’, then tap your watch name. Now tap ‘Watch battery’ and you’ll get a graph showing the charge level.
See more in bright sunshine with brightness boost
Give the screen a quick burst of ultra brightness if it is difficult to see. If your watch has a button press it three times. If not, swipe down then swipe right to left till you see Sunlight Mode and touch that for a quick burst of brightness.
There are lots of ways to conserve power on your smartwatch. Here are the three we think are most effective.
- Turn off the always on setting: Open Android Wear on your Android device, tap the Settings ‘cog’, then tap your watch name. Now you can toggle the screen’s always on setting. You can do this in the Settings area on the watch too.
- Turn off the ‘Tilt to Wake’ setting: Go to the same screen as above and slide to turn ‘Tilt to wake’ on or off. When on, the watch face will illuminate if you lift the handset – which you might want to do, for example, if you take your watch off in bed but sometimes want to pick it up to see the time.
- Set auto brightness levels: On the watch sweep down then right to left till you see the Settings cog. Tap it and then tap ‘Adjust brightness’ and scroll the levels before tapping the one you want.
If you don’t want to use Cinema mode but do want to turn off notifications, swipe all the way down from the top of the watch’s screen and pick the notifications setting you want.
Check on watch storage
In Android Wear tap the Settings cog then tap your watch name and finally tap ‘Watch storage’. You’ll get information about the apps on your watch and about how much free storage is remaining.
Pick the right apps for the tasks you want
When you make voice commands to your watch it will perform actions using apps you have set up. To make sure it uses the right ones you can pick the default apps for particular tasks. On the Android Wear app on your handset tap your watch name then tap ‘Actions’. You can see a list of all the actions you can ‘speak’ to your watch, and the app it uses to do them. Where actions are greyed out, an app is not selected. Tap the action and you can set your preferred app.
Set a screen lock
If you’re worried about data security then set your watch up with a screen lock. Go into the Settings area – swipe right to left and scroll to Settings – then scroll down to ‘Screen lock’. Select to lock screen when you take the watch off and then draw a pattern on screen. You’re done. Just remember the pattern you set!
If you don’t want to see notifications from a particular app it is easy to block them. On the watch when you’re viewing a notification sweep right to left and hit the Block app, then tap the tick on the next screen to confirm. On your phone you’ll find a ‘Block app notifications option in Settings.
Get notifications back
If you’ve dismissed a notification too quickly then you can get it back again if you swipe upwards right away and tap the undo icon.
Use Together to pair your watch with a friend’s
Pair your watch with that of a special friend to send them direct messages and information easily. Sweep right to left from the watch face to see your apps list and scroll to ‘Together’. Your watch can look for nearby watches and pair or it will start a paring invitation on your phone. Once the two handsets are paired you and your special friend can exchange status, emoji, stickers, doodles and photos via the special Together watch face.
Just say ‘OK Google’ then ask your watch a question and it will show you the answer. Obviously the possibilities aren’t infinite. But if you don’t like sweeping and swiping, ‘OK Google,’ might get you around quicker.
Control with a flick of the wrist
Sweep and swipe is all very well, but turn on wrist gestures on the watch and you can flick your wrist towards and away from you to scroll up and down through cards on the watch face. Swipe down from the top of the watch face, then swipe right to left to get to Settings, scroll down to ‘Wrist gestures’ and tap to turn gestures on or off.
Put music on your watch
There isn’t likely to be a huge amount of free storage on your watch, but still you can try putting a few tunes on it if you like. Make sure Google Play Music is on your smartphone and you’ll be able to transfer songs over to your watch.
Pair some Bluetooth headphones
If you have copied music to your watch you might want to listen via Bluetooth headphones. You’ll find the pairing option in the Settings area under Bluetooth devices. Pairing starts as soon as you tap ‘Bluetooth devices’
Draw an emoji
No, really. If you are reading a message on your watch you can reply directly with a drawn emoji. Just view the message, then sweep right to left till you see reply, tap it and pick ‘Draw emoji’. The watch will make a match and you can pick one to send.
Get some more apps
There are lots of Android Wear apps and they can really boost the way you use your watch as well as adding extra and new functions to your favourite Android smartphone or tablet apps. Make sure you check out your very favourite apps first to see what their Android Wear version offers.
This post originally appeared on Lifehacker UK, which is gobbling up the news in a different timezone.