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Being a user of SmartWatch3 for nearly a year now, I'd like to share this detailed guide with you. You'll find interesting information about your SmartWatch3 and Android Wear in general. This guide covers a lot of aspects beginning from basic set up and up to advanced tips and tricks.
In case you have any questions or need more assistance or troubleshooting, feel free to PM me anytime.
Note: Most of this guide's content is extracted from Wearable.com website, with my own rephrasing and addition.
So what is Android Wear?
Announced at its I/O conference in March 2014, Android Wear is Google's first dedicated smartwatch OS based, of course, on the hugely successful Android smartphone platform.
If you want to get techy, Android Wear is based on the same Linux kernel as its smartphone brethren and developers will need Android Studio 0.8 and Gradle 0.12 or later in order to cook up new apps, or amend their current ones for Wear compatibility.
You will need to be rocking an Android smartphone with version 4.3 (Jelly Bean) or later on it. You'll also need a phone with Bluetooth connectivity on board but nowadays we'd say that's a given.
The big news of late 2015 is that iPhone users now get to play too. Windows Phone users – sorry, there's no room for you at the Android Wear party.
How does Android Wear work?
Android Wear, being a smartwatch OS, is understandably focused on a couple of key areas. The first being time-telling and the second being notifications. You might scoff at a time-telling feature but it's probably the thing that you'll use the most. You'll have a number of pre-selected watch faces to choose from – some swanky, some not so swanky – and it's as easy as pressing and holding the display to scroll through them.
Like the propriety platforms we've seen so far, notifications play a big part of the Android Wear experience. You'll get notified for incoming texts, WhatsApp messages, tweets you're mentioned in, Facebook updates, emails and more. You can manage the notifications on your smartphone's companion app and you can even blacklist app notifications on your smartwatch itself.
Google Now powers a great deal of what you'll see popping up on your Android Wear smartwatch, but just like Google Now on your smartphone, it's still a work in progress. Google Now updates, like notifications about incoming messages, are presented in card style, with updates from the same app or regarding the same subject nicely stacked.
It's a simple case of swiping up and down through the categories and swiping sideways to see more or to get rid of the lot. You'll also see the option to open up the relevant app on your phone for more info.
The first major Android Wear update added further card controls. There's now the ability to bring back a card you've swiped away to the right with an undo button appearing just after you've flicked away making it easier to bring it back. It sounds small but it gets rid of an annoying day-to-day problem.
The newest update also lets you navigate notifications using gestures. Flicking your wrist away from you scrolls forward one card, flicking backwards goes backwards. Every Wear smartwatch should have the Lollipop 5.1 update by now and with it comes a whole host of new features - Wi-Fi, gestures, emojis, and new launchers. More features since this update include watch to watch chat and interactive watch faces.
If you've just updated, you might need help navigating the new changes. It's quite a big update and one that vastly improves the day-to-day experience of Android Wear. Take a look at this post for more details about new features.
Apps are installed through your phone (and the regular Google Play store). Apps that have Wear compatibility will either link up with your smartwatch and offer you control options (such as navigating your Spotify tracks or getting turn by turn directions from Google Maps) or - now with the new update - present to you a mini app within the watch itself. Runkeeper is a good example of this; it provides a nice tracking UI for when you're out on a jog.
The apps, and default actions, are managed using the smartphone Android Wear app and the good news is you can have more than one Android Wear device paired up at any time.
One of the first things you will do once your smartwatch is paired is to swap out the watch face for one that suits you. Every Android Wear watch has a few pre-installed faces which you can access by pressing and holding on the watch face screen then swiping though them.
But things get more interesting when you head to Google Play to download free and paid for, watch faces from indie developers and designer names. In this part of the guide I’ll share my favorite watch faces that perfectly suit our square SmartWatch3:
Cool Circle (Interactive)
Minimal & Elegant (Interactive)
With more than 4,000 apps and games available to use with Android Wear, there should be something for everyone. As ever, check out reviews and star ratings on Google Play for guidance but a lot of these apps are free and so worth a punt to try them out on your wrist.
Note: These Google and stock apps are already compatible with Android Wear and will be synced automatically on first use if you have them installed: Google Fit, Hangouts, Google Keep, Maps, Music, Skype, Track ID, Google Translate.
Here's some of the most useful Android Wear apps you can download:
Endomondo, the hugely popular fitness platform has been updated for Android Wear, allowing you can tag your runs, cycles, hikes, climbs and so on. Also, on our Sony SmartWatch3 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.
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, the basic UI is a Godsend.
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.
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.
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.
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 amount of battery left, check how much mobile data you're using and more besides, all from one simple display.
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.
Feeling a bit shy about talking to your smartwatch? It's actually one of the most accurate voice control systems we've used yet on a gadget so chances are Android Wear will pick up your dictation or request without you having to repeat yourself three times in the street.
Voice control is the best way of unlocking everything that your shiny timepiece has to offer. Everything from appointments and holidays to emails and fitness can be accessed from your wrist. Read on for our round up of the best voice commands for your Sony SmartWatch3.
Google Now is the top dog for finding the right information and retrieving it for you – and it's capable of recognizing your natural language and interpreting it, rather than forcing you to learn awkward phrases. Here's some examples of getting contextual with Google Now.
Of course, you can access your smartwatch's apps and features using voice control as well, which can be much quicker than hammering your 1-inch screen with a sausage-like finger.
Android Wear is clever enough to be able to search through your calendar and find matches with the words you say, so you can ask for details of specific events and appointments (such as your next haircut) easily enough. If your smartwatch can't find anything to match in your upcoming schedule then you'll get a "no matching events" found message instead.
You might have noticed that many places in Google Maps have opening and closing times associated with them and you can mine this information from your wrist to make sure you aren't under pressure to finish your shopping (or your pint). As long as the location in question has shared the relevant opening times, Android Wear is able to find and display them.
"What time is it in …?"
Confused about whether a friend is going to be up and about or fast asleep? Simply ask your Android Wear smartwatch what time it is in a particular place and you'll get your answer (provided your watch understands where you mean). You can use the same trick for countries rather than cities or you can just speak out the name of a recognized time zone instead.
You could be sat watching the latest episode of your favorite television show or leafing through the pages of a number one best-selling book, but whatever the scenario you can get Android Wear to explain what a word means by saying "define" in front of it. For more complicated words you might have to be more careful about how you enunciate them.
Off on your summer holidays? Android Wear can cope with currency conversions very easily too, so you can make sure you're not getting ripped off by the shady-looking man sat behind the Bureau de Change desk. The word "dollars" refers to the US kind by default, but you can specify a different type of dollar (like Canadian or Australian) should you need to.
Sticking with the holiday theme, Android Wear is able to tap into the magic powers of Google Translate to give you off-the-cuff translations of foreign words (whether into or out of English). It's not quite the same as being fluent in the local lingo, so don't give up those Spanish lessons just yet, but your smartwatch can get you out of a sticky situation or two while abroad.
Google Translate has also been beefed up in the latest update - it now works to translate two languages in the same conversation back and forth and is compatible with 44 languages.
Android Wear brings the full power of Google (and Google Now) to your wrist so you can ask your smartwatch pretty much any question that would work on the main search engine. Find out who wrote particular books, who starred in particular movies, or how tall someone is (as long as they're famous — Google doesn't know that much about your friends just yet).
Trying to work a keyboard on a device strapped to your wrist isn't the easiest method of communication you're ever going to come across, so if you need to send a message from Android Wear then it's best to use your voice. You'll be asked which of your contacts you want to send a message to, then you can dictate the message itself (via Gmail of course).
Another useful bit of information you can get up on your wristwatch display is the latest score for your favorite sports team of choice. Android Wear will show the current state of play (or the most recent result) for the team you mention, using your previous search history on Google and your location to determine what you mean by generic terms such as "united" or "city".
Don't forget that your SmartWatch3 doubles up as a rather handy pedometer you can use to keep track of your daily activity — or at least the number of steps you're taking each day. Your step count will often show up as a card on Android Wear courtesy of Google Now, but you can use the voice shortcut as well to get an instant assessment of how you're doing.
Android Wear is great for taking notes on the go. Say "note to self", wait for the prompt, then speak out your memo. Your watch will use the default note-taking app (Google Keep or Evernote for example) to save the note back to your phone and the Web. If no app is configured, the note is emailed to your Gmail account instead.
About to set off on a journey and wondering what time you're going to get there? Ask "how far to..." and then the destination of your choice to see the estimated travel time, based on current traffic conditions. You can opt to navigate straight to the location from your watch, at which point the option to switch to walking or cycling directions appears.
Like the search engine on the Web, your smartwatch can tap into Google's vast knowledge reserves to pull out information directly (with no need to browse through a list of results). Ask how old your favorite celebrity is and Android Wear will let you know instantly. You can also request heights, birthdays and other essential information that's likely to be in the public domain.
One of the areas where Android Wear really proves its worth is in letting you stay on top of your schedule, displaying calendar cards as events approach. Say "what's my next appointment?" to see what's coming up in the near future. You can also use the voice command "agenda" to see a list of imminent events and appointments.
You're stuck in traffic and you need to let someone know: use the "text" command followed by the person's name to fire off an SMS message via your phone. You'll be prompted to dictate the text using your voice too. If Android Wear is confused about which contact you're referring to then it displays a choice of options to pick from.
Another one that takes advantage of Google's powerful search capabilities: ask "when is sunset?" or indeed "when is sunrise?" to see the times appear right on the Android Wear watch face. Handy if you want to know what time you need to be home for or when you're going to have to get up.
Android Wear makes it possible to set an alarm for the morning without touching your phone. Say "set an alarm for..." followed by a time and you'll be shown a confirmation screen confirming the action. Use the Android Wear app on your phone if you want to use a different alarm app to the Android Clock.
Your phone might be on the other side of the room or stuffed in a coat pocket but you can still get the tunes started with a simple "play music" command. For the time being Google's own Play Music app and Sony's Music app are the only ones you can utilize (it will pick up from where you last left off) but support for other players should be arriving soon.
Right now there aren't many tasks that your Android Wear watch can do without a phone, but launching a simple stopwatch on your wrist is one of them. Tell your gadget to "start stopwatch" and up pops a simple interface for recording your next lap time. The actual starting and stopping is done with a tap of the finger.
Location-based tasks are where Android Wear really can shine, so if you're out and about and what to get to the nearest pub, restaurant, bank, museum or park just ask "what's the nearest..." followed by the type of location. You'll be presented with a shortlist and you can then launch turn-by-turn navigation directions to your selected venue.
If you've just unwrapped your shiny new Sony SmartWatch3, you could be forgiven for wondering how to use it. The tiny screens and complex features of your smartwatch mean they can take some getting used to, which is why we've compiled our list of top tips and tricks for getting started with Android Wear.
check the battery status and see the remaining storage space on your Wear device through the app. Now with the new update you can also see what's hogging all your battery. All these options can be found in the Android Wear settings page (tap the cog icon to see it).
UPDATE: Starting from Android Wear v1.4, checking battery consumption was removed from the app.
From the same menu you can enable or disable the always-on feature as well as activate the 'tilt to wake' functionality that automatically switches on the watch's display when you turn your watch up to face you. Another option lets you mute notifications on your phone as long as SmartWatch3 is currently connected - it's in quick settings.
Android Wear is Android. As stupid as that sounds saying it out loud it's a phrase that has implications. It means it's a system built on an open platform and, as such, it's as easy to hack your SmartWatch3 as it is your Android smartphone.
But, while it is possible to enable developer and ADB debug options, unlock a boot loader, root your SmartWatch3 and sideload apps, this guide is more concerned with hidden features that won't end up with you bricking your new toy.
How to enable Developer Options on your watch: Go to Settings, the About, tap on build number repeatedly until you get a message on screen saying "You are now a developer", head back to Settings, you'll find Developer Options appearing there!
Other advanced tricks can be found on this blog.
If you swipe away a notification that you didn't mean to get rid of, you can get it back: swipe up from the bottom of the screen immediately afterwards and you'll notice a Dismissing... countdown. Tap the undo icon and the card will reappear in its previous position.
It's a handy feature to have in case you're trying to clear your screen of unimportant notifications and inadvertently get rid of an urgent email or text message that you want to check again.
You can store audio tracks on your watch and listen to them even when your phone is out of range by pairing a Bluetooth headset directly with your watch, so it's great for the morning jog.
For the time being it only works with Google's own Play Music app and Sony’s Music app:
- From Sony Music: Open the app on your phone, swipe from left to open side menu and got to "Playlists", open the playlist you want to sync and use the slider "Sync to SmartWatch3".
- From Google Play Music: Open the app on your phone, head to the Settings screen and you'll notice a new “Download to Android Wear” option - enable this to start syncing songs over to your smartwatch. Note that this will download ALL of your music files in your library into watch.
Now for a tip that doesn't require an app download – did you know you could find out what your remaining battery life is and mute your Android Wear smartwatch by dragging down on the homescreen? You do now.
There's also the option to specify the types of notifications you want to see on your watch by tapping on the icons at the top of the pull-down screen: you can choose from show all (show everything), none (show nothing) and priority (show only apps you've marked as important).
Priority apps can be set from the Android Wear app on your phone and work in the same way as lock screen notifications in Android Lollipop.
The easiest way to get more battery life from your SmartWatch3 is to uncheck the 'Screen always on' option from within the Android Wear app. Your smartwatch will still light up when you move your arm towards your face, and alert you when you have a notification, so you won't be missing out on anything.
There's also now more brightness controls, also turning off GPS, Wi-Fi and Gesture Controls will give you even more battery life.
On April 7th, 2016, global rollout of Android Wear 1.4 (Marshmallow 6.0.1) has started for Sony SmartWatch3.
This update brings some cool features and improvements to our beloved square wearable. This post will list most of the changes I could gather from my usage and online sources:
Doze: More battery juice
Battery life should be greatly improved thanks to the addition of Doze, a mode that helps to preserve your watch's battery life by shutting down background processes.The battery also gets a boost due to much more aggressive screen dimming.
Scrolling up and down your card stream is as simple as flicking your wrist. Starting today you can also expand a card, bring up your apps, or return home to your watch face with a push, lift or shake. Here's a full list of the new gestures:
- See more details or take action on a card by holding your arm in front and pushing down quickly, then bringing your arm back slowly.
- Go back on a card by holding your arm in front of you and quickly pivoting up, then bringing it back slowly to the original position.
- Opening the apps menu on the watch face by holding your arm in front of you and pushing down quickly.
- Pull down settings by slowly turning your wrist away from you then flicking back towards you.
- Exiting to the watch face by holding your arm in front of you and shaking your wrist quickly.
Go to your SmartWatch3 Settings -> Gestures -> Launch tutorial for an interactive guide to use the new gestures.
Send messages using your voice
Saying "OK, Google" now lets you do a variety of things, like texting or asking a question. You'll be able to verbally send messages through more apps like WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, Nextplus, Telegram, Viber and WeChat.
The official Android Blog notes you'll simply have command, "OK Google, Send a WhatsApp message to Nathan: I'll be right there."
Android Wear 1.4 brings support for Marshmallow’s permissions model. Google has ported over the full permissions settings on the phone to Android Wear. In settings, users have the ability to see what permissions an app is using and deny them access. When users first launch an app on their watch, it will pop up a prompt asking them to grant certain permissions.
Changes to Settings menu
There are new settings to manually set the date & time independent of the phone and an ‘unpair with phone’ option directly on the main settings menu. Unfortunately, the ‘restart your watch’ option has been removed.
Changes to Google apps
Google Messenger was updated with an Android Wear app that required Marshmallow to work. The app has a very similar interface to the Hangouts app. However, users have the ability to start a new conversation right from the watch app.
Android Wear 1.4 finally features the new Google logo. The Google app in the launcher users the new multicolored ‘G’ and the ‘speak now’ icon is a Google-colored microphone. Previously, tapping the Google icon would launch voice search, but now it takes users to their Now cards. Wear 1.4 also has a new reminders app. It shows a simple list of reminders along with a date and the app has the ability to add a new one.
More hidden changes
- Do not disturb mode has replaced Priority and Silence modes on drop down Sound options.
- 6 new languages supported.
- Bluetooth headset audio improvements to help eliminate choppy audio when on the move.
Android Wear version 1.5 with build number MWD49B is now rolling to SmartWatch 3. What's mentioned officially by Google about this update is:
- Google security bulletin dated May 1st 2016
- Various stability and bug fixes
Xperia Blog reported GPS issue fixed!
What I have noticed myself is:
- The option to restart your watch is back (YAY!)