Android Wear is a nascent platform, and as a 1.0 product, there are bound to be missing features and clunky options, along with a lot of room for improvement. Thankfully, the platform is now open to developers, and we have been seeing a steady trickle of Wear-compatible — and even Wear-specific — apps on the Play Store. Below are 5 really handy utilities that should improve your Wear smartwatch usage.

Wear Aware

Wear Aware uses the bluetooth connection between your watch and phone to keep track of the latter and avoid losing it. The idea is that since your watch is always on your wrist, its connection to your phone — or lack thereof — should help you determine whether you are near your device or have forgotten it, as well as locate it when it’s hidden away from your sight.

The app will force the watch to vibrate whenever the bluetooth connection with your phone is lost, reminding you that you have stepped away from it. It can also be launched from the watch to ring the phone in case you are connected but can’t find it (if it’s in the Silent mode for example and stuck between the sofa cushions).


Download: Wear Aware

Wear Unlock

Wear Unlock uses the same principle as Wear Aware: since you are always wearing your watch, if it is connected to your phone, it means that you are close to your phone. By extension, if the two aren’t connected, then you aren’t near your phone.

The app will use this knowledge to secure your phone when you aren’t near it, and make it easier to unlock when you are. It uses password locking when the phone and watch aren’t connected, and removes all protection when they are.


Download: Wear Unlock

Wear Mini Launcher

One issue with Android Wear in its current state is the contrived way in which you launch apps. You either have to use voice actions or start a series of tap / scroll / select / scroll. Wear Mini Launcher saves you the time or public embarrassment by adding a swipeable launcher on the right side of your screen. The app is customizable with various grid and color sizes, removable elements, another settings drawer, and more, making it an essential tool for any Wear owner who has more than a few apps installed.


Download: Wear Mini Launcher

Baby Time: Android Wear Lock

Kids love screens. If you are a parent or work around kids a lot, then you must have noticed that they all get attracted by that new screen on your wrist and end up tapping it and making actions you can’t undo. That’s where Baby Time comes into play. You launch the app and the only way to exit it is to swipe up twice then down twice. That considerably reduces erroneous clicks and swipes on the watch.


Download: Baby Time: Android Wear Lock

Display Brightness for Wear

The current crop of Android Wear watches (LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live) lacks one essential feature that has made our smartphones better at being used outdoors and indoors: the ambient light sensor. In lieu of this, this app will use your location and sunrise/sunset times to determine whether it’s night (low brightness) or day (medium or high brightness). In the latter case, the app will call for your Google Play Services activity detection (driving or not) to pick a maximum brightness when you are driving and a middle one when you are standing still. It’s not exactly an ambient light sensor, but it is the most elegant solution to this problem.


Download: Display Brightness for Wear

What are your favorite Wear utilities?

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