With over 4,000 Android Wear apps available, there's no excuse for settling for the default functionality that comes built into your Android Wear smartwatch. You need to take advantage of some of the best new apps for your smartwatch and really make the most of your intelligent wearable.
A good Android Wear app should give some serious added value to your newest gadget, take you away from your smartphone, and generally make your life a lot easier.
Essential reading: How to install apps on your Android Wear smartwatch
Still, some Wear apps that sound promising just don't cut it once downloaded and the most popular apps on Google Play are actually watch faces. To save you time, we've rounded up our favourite apps to install straight away…
An obvious candidate for wrist-based access, Shazam's Android app was updated with Android Wear support last year. You can use the smartwatch app to launch the app (obviously set it in settings to start tagging on launch) then the tracks will appear in the main smartphone app. Handy if you have only seconds to spare before a track ends and you're fumbling for your phone.
Lifeline & Lifeline 2
Text based adventure games have found a new home on smartwatches, and Lifeline is one of the best. In Lifeline you help the protagonist, Taylor, survive after a spaceship crash that's left him marooned on a distant planet. Guide him through a series of options, with each decision changing the outcome of the game. Plus in Lifeline 2, the storyline of the character Arika (avenging her parents and rescuing her brother) is twice as long and fully optimised for Android Wear.
$0.99, 3 Minute Games
Vibrations for Android Wear
With this handy app, you can turn your smartwatch into more subtle smart jewellery, some of the time. It allows you to set specific vibration patterns (one to five repeats) for individual apps – for example, three repeats for Gmail, four for WhatsApp. So if you're in a meeting or out at dinner, you don't have to even look down to figure out if you need to be a little bit rude or it's just a Facebook message. It's worth paying for premium, though, otherwise there's a limit to the number of messages.
$0.99, Bilbo Soft
IF by IFTTT
IFTTT stands for 'If This Then That', and the service enables you to link apps together to create recipes to perform certain actions. For example, IF your weather app says it's going to rain THEN tell your Philips Hue lights to turn blue. The IF Android Wear app enables you to automate a host of tasks such as sending automated SMS messages by tapping your smartwatch.
SofaScore Live Scores
If you rely on Android Wear alerts for sports scores you might want to think about downloading this live scores app, which adds a little class to proceedings with club badges, start times and whatnot as well as scores. It gets you live coverage of all leagues for 17 sports including football, cricket, basketball and tennis.
Google's own Keep is a neat, colourful note-taking and to-do-list-making app for Android Wear. The cloud-based service is fuss free and handy for grocery shopping or any other sitch where your hands are full. View your archive, add recurring reminders and check stuff off plus add notes via the voice command "take a note" or by drawing an emoji.
Free, Google Keep
Wear Audio Recorder
If you're in a lecture, an interview or someone is just spouting hilarious nonsense on the train, you can quickly record the sound around you using this simple app. Using the Google Material design guidelines, the app lets you sync to both Google Drive and Dropbox, and you can even record with the screen display off if you'd prefer people not to know.
Endomondo, the hugely popular fitness platform, has been updated for Android Wear, allowing you to tag your runs, cycles, hikes, climbs and so on. Also, if you're rocking a Sony SmartWatch 3 with its GPS skills, you don't even need a companion smartphone; a standalone mode stores all the metrics from your exercise sessions directly on your watch.
Hole19, one of the most comprehensive Android golf assistants, makes the jump to Android Wear by way of an extension that provides distance details for more than 34,000 courses around the world. The app itself is extremely in-depth but as getting your phone out on the course is a big no-no, you'll be better off making use of the 'distance to the pin' (using your mobile's GPS) and scoring features on your smartwatch.
Free, Stat Track
This is a no brainer. The popular notes and reminders app – which you probably have on your phone already – has been reworked to give you glanceable info on your wrist. Everything is very clean and simple with some full background images, but otherwise it's just checking off to-dos with taps and adding new reminders with voice control.
Whether you're into cycling, running or gym-based workouts, Interval Timer will come in handy by allowing you to record your split times, reps, rest periods and the like. The interface is simple, but when you're sweaty and busy in the gym you'll find the basic UI is a godsend.
Free, Wearable Software
Wrist-based computing lends itself to quick, uncomplicated actions, such as checking off items on a to-do list. Enter Todoist, already a well-respected smartphone and web app, which makes the switch to Android Wear seamlessly, enabling you to bring up and clear tasks with a few taps of your finger.
Video for Android Wear & YouTube
How much you like this app depends on how you feel about video on smartwatches. If you have good feelings, give this a whirl – you can view videos directly on your watch with Bluetooth headphone support for audio and a cast button if you have a Chromecast plugged into your TV. Check the app page for the list of compatible AW smartwatches.
Free, Video for Android Wear
Turning various settings on and off on your smartphone (such as Wi-Fi and aeroplane mode) can be a pain, so transfer the necessary switches to your wrist. Adjust phone volume, see the remaining battery life, check how much mobile data you're using and more besides, all from one simple display.
$1.31, Toggles Wear
We like apps like Wear Buddy: small, straightforward and designed specifically for Android Wear. You can check up on the status of your phone's battery and find it when it's lost – it's even possible to activate the ringtone remotely and get an alert if you leave the house without your phone connected.
Free, Wear Buddy
InstaWeather puts location based weather reports front and centre on your smartwatch with seven free custom watch faces which feature radar maps, hourly forecasts, wind conditions and more. The premium version also offers extended forecasts, a bunch more faces, customisable location trackers and an animated radar.
One for serious Twitter addicts, Tweechip! enables you to check your timeline, mark tweets as favourites and retweet stuff you like. Its simplistic design makes it easy to keep up-to-date with what's going on in the Twitter-verse without pulling out your phone.
Free, Saul M
UP by Jawbone
The Jawbone UP app enables you to keep track of your daily steps from your Android Wear smartwatch. There's no need for a separate band, yet you still get to tap into one of the best fitness tracking ecosystems out there.
Wunderlist is one of the most connected to-do list apps out there. You can select a specific list to show on your Android Wear device and use 'OK Google' to add items using the power of voice control. You can also get reminders about your projects and reply to comments from others.
Free, 6 Wunderkinder
Find My Phone (Android Wear)
While Apple Watch users get this feature baked into watchOS2, Android Wear users will need this third party app. Find My Phone enables you to start an alarm on your smartphone if you're struggling to locate it, change volume, turn on the vibration feature and even set the flashlight to help you track it down.
Free, Nick Apps
Turn your smartwatch into a viewfinder for the camera app on your smartphone. Set up your phone for a selfie and then use your Android Wear screen to check you're in-shot. You can also access features like the flash settings, self-timer and zoom. When you're ready, you can even take a picture from your smartwatch with the one-tap shutter.
All of these apps can be downloaded from Google Play. Let us know what your favourite Android Wear apps are using the comments below and tell us what you'd like to see.