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The only guide you need to get started with Android Wear

how to use android wear tag heuer carrera connected hands on review
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Your new Android Wear smartwatch has been unboxed, charged, and strapped to your wrist. What next? Setting up and using Android Wear is a simple process, and almost identical regardless of the model you’ve got. We can provide a comprehensive user guide on how to get started with Android Wear, to make sure you don’t waste previous time missing those all-important wrist-based notifications.

Android Wear is compatible with both Android and iOS smartphones, so we’ll be covering both during the guide. Watch at the ready? Let’s get started.

Related: The best Android Wear apps to download

Basic requirements and apps

Fossil Q Founder Close

If you own an Android smartphone, it’ll need to run Android 4.3 Jelly Bean and above, with a Bluetooth connection active. For the iPhone, it requires iOS 8.2 and above, again with an active Bluetooth connection.

While almost any Android phone will work with your smartwatch, some older models struggle on iOS. The app initially only supported the LG Watch Urbane, but updates have increased the number of watches that operate with iOS. The list now includes the brand new TAG Heuer Carrera Connected, the Fossil Q Founder, Moto 360 2nd Generation, and the Huawei Watch.

If you’re not sure if your watch will work, Google has a special webpage which, when visited using your phone’s browser, will show you if it’ll run an Android Wear watch. You can find the Android Wear app in the Google Play store here, and the iOS app in the iTunes App Store here.

Pair your watch and smartphone

Huawei Smart Watch
Jessica Lee Star/Digital Trends

Once the Android Wear app is installed on your phone, turn on your Android Wear watch. You’re going to need the charger to complete the setup process, so make sure you’ve got it nearby. Select your language of choice when prompted, then look for a Bluetooth pairing code and ensure it matches the one displayed on your phone. On iOS, enter it manually. Additional prompts will then appear for Google Fit and location data, which can be accepted or declined. If there are any software updates available for your watch, they’ll be installed at this time.

How to use Android Wear on Android phones

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Android Wear’s features and the supporting app differ depending on which OS you’re using. We’ll concentrate on Android here, and most of the usage instructions apply to iOS anyway, but there are differences that we’ll address in a later section.

Android Wear is controlled using simple gestures. There’s no onscreen keyboard, and actions are approved or declined using big, finger-friendly buttons. When you start the watch for the first time, or after a full reset, it’ll give you a quick rundown of how to use the OS.

Related: 10 of the worst Android Wear problems, and how to fix them

It’s simple: Information appears on cards, viewed by swiping up and down on the display, and dismissed with a swipe to the right. If you accidentally dismiss a card and change your mind, quickly swipe up on the screen to find a handy Undo button, which returns the card to the watch. Cards with additional information or more functions are explored using a swipe to the left. For example, swiping on the weather card shows the forecast for the coming days, then the option to open the app on your phone.

Tap the watch face and swipe to the left to enter the Android Wear menu. On Android, this shows three different menu screens, all accessed with a left swipe. The first is a list of installed apps, the second is a list of contacts, and the third is for Android Wear specific actions, such as Google Now voice control or step count data. On iOS, the contact list doesn’t appear.

Swipe down on the main watch face screen to see quick access controls for notifications. From here, you can select priority notification mode, or cinema mode for silence, and also adjust the screen brightness. Additionally, it shows the battery percentage, date, and connection status. To quickly dim the display, cover the watch for a few seconds with your palm.

Once you’re familiar with the basics, you’ll probably want to take a look at the different watch faces that are installed on your watch. This is done with a long press on the main watch face screen. Watch faces appear in a horizontally scrolling list and are selected with a tap. Some faces will have customizable options, accessed using a settings cog shown beneath the face.

Alternative watch faces

Android Wear Ted Baker

If the pre-installed faces don’t present enough choice, others are available from either the Android Wear app or the Google Play store. On iOS, inside the Android Wear app, a small selection of third-party faces can be downloaded. On Android, there are hundreds of options available inside the Google Play store, accessed through the Android Wear app, or by a simple Play Store search.

Related: Best Android Wear watch faces

Downloaded watch faces are synced across to the watch automatically, but may take a few moments to install, so have patience. Unless the face has its own app that installs on your phone — the Disney Star Wars app, for example — there’s no need for any further action. When it’s ready, a notification shows on the watch, from which a tap will set the new face.

Download apps

Huawei Smart Watch
Jessica Lee Star/Digital Trends

Adding apps to Android Wear is a similar procedure. If an app is made to run on an Android Wear watch, it’s downloaded as usual from Google Play. The quickest way to find them is through the Android Wear app by tapping the More button alongside the Essential Watch Apps section on the main screen. Let’s use Runkeeper as an example.

Find it using the search bar, install it, and the app will automatically transfer to your watch. A notification will show up when it’s ready, and it’ll appear in the list of apps under the main menu. Tap the watch face, swipe left, then scroll down to find it. Tap to start a workout. Most apps follow this process.

Share with a friend

Using Android Wear’s Together feature, it’s possible to send an Android Wear-using friend images, emojis, and messages directly from the watch. This requires a quick set up from the Android Wear app, and it is only available on Android devices. Tap the cog at the top of the screen to find the Settings menu, then the Together option. From here, tap the plus sign or Pair With A Friend button to invite or quickly connect with another Android Wear watch.

Related: Here are the 5 best smartwatches you can buy right now

Once you’re connected up, you’ll be able to draw images on the screen to send each other, or choose from a list of emojis. There’s even a Together watch face to make sharing easier and faster.

Next Page: Customizing apps, voice control, adding music, and more

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