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Decrypt Android Wear with these 16 essential tips and tricks

Using Android Wear isn’t always easy, but it’s beginning to catch on. Google has been busy packing new functionality into Android Wear, and though smartwatches — like any new piece of tech — have a steep learning curve, they’re quickly becoming more practical with each and every iteration. To that point, here are some essential tips to get the most out of your Android Wear smartwatch, whether you want to listen to music offline, dim the display with your palm, or take copious notes.

More: The 5 best Android Wear devices right now

Check and manage battery life

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Checking the battery life is a cinch. Simply swipe down to see a quick summary of your battery life. If you need more information, go to the Android Wear app on your phone by choosing Settings > Watch Battery. From here you can see how much juice you’ve got left, which apps are burning the most battery, and enable power saving features like dimming and theater mode.

Bring back a card you’ve dismissed from the Context Stream

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If you accidently dismiss an important card, swipe down from the top of the screen. The down swipe action will make the dismissing button appear. Press the button and presto, the card will be retrieved, where you can interact with it or dismiss it again after taking a better look at it.

You can still have your phone ring and not your watch

Google Android Wear

If you’re not impressed by Android Wear’s vibrating notifications you can always mute watch notifications by swiping from the top to the bottom of the watch face. Touch the mute icon to mute your watch.

Use Theater Mode to mute and silence notifications

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Swipe down from the top of the screen. Then swipe right to left until you see theater mode. Touch to activate. Even if you move your wrist, the screen won’t light up and you won’t see notifications.

  • To deactivate Theater Mode, tap the screen twice quickly. If your watch has a power button, tap the button twice quickly.
  • To temporarily turn off Theater Mode, simply press the power button once. When you release the power button, the watch will resume theater mode.

Use Android Wear’s other modes

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  • Brightness Boost automatically makes the screen brighter. The idea here is that you can more easily see a brighter screen when you’re out on a sunny day. To preserve battery, this mode lasts for a few seconds. Enable Brightness Boost by pressing your power button three times quickly. If your watch doesn’t have a power button, swipe down from the top of the screen. Then swipe right to left until you see Brightness Boost. Touch to activate.
  • On phones with Android 5.0 or higher, you can also set up priority notifications which allows you to manage who can interrupt you and at what time. This feature can be set up from your phone by going to Settings > Sound & Notifications > Interruptions. Take note: adjusting priority notifications on your watch will also adjust the notifications on your phone.

Install a web browser

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Wear Internet Browser lets you browse the Web from your watch. You can tap into your phone’s browsing history and access bookmarks. In most cases, however, viewing the Web on the sub-two-inch screen on your wrist will be a frustrating experience, and you will have to pay for the full version of the app if you want to use this for more than Search.

Listen to music offline

Android Wear update

Android Wear lets you store music on on your watch. For now, it’s only available from Google Play, and it’s extra handy (yep) for the gym or morning run. Open Google’s Play Music app on your phone and choose settings, then choose the option labeled “download to Android Wear.” You’ve now enabled your watch to download music from your Play Music App. However, any song marked as available for offline play will appear on both your phone and watch — there’s not a way to separate these yet — it’s a bummer considering the limited space offered on most Android smartwatches.

Block notifications from specific apps

You can block notifications on your watch by swiping left to right on the context stream until you see the card Block App. 

If this doesn’t work — you can also block apps from your phone. Go to your Android Wear App on your phone, choose settings > block app notifications. Touch the plus icon then select the apps you want to block.

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