The coolest apps for smartwatches are the ones that make you feel like an all-powerful digital wizard. Unified Remote for Android Wear is one such app — it lets you command the various elements of your home entertainment system, like your TV and audio receiver, through controls on your wrist. Google Camera and Viper SmartStart are two others — the former lets you use your Android Wear device as a live viewfinder, and the latter allows you to start your car from your wrist. On Monday, a new, equally magical app — albeit one with a productivity bent — hit the wearable scene: Google Slides.
Google Slides is not new on the block, exactly — Google’s presentation app for the web and mobile has been around since 2006. But before Monday, sifting through slides required access to a keyboard, mouse, or touchscreen. Now, thanks to the update, all you need is an Android Wear device; upgrade to the latest version of Slides and a companion remote will install to whatever smartwatch you have paired with it.
The companion app is versatile. When you launch a presentation, a notification appears on your watch — tapping on it opens the Android Wear app. A running timer shows you how long you spent on the current slide and an orange bar and slide thumbnail previews indicate how far you progressed through the current presentation. Tapping the left side progresses through the slides while tapping the right side regresses. When you reach the final slide, a green checkmark indicates that you have done so.
Google Slides is far from the first productivity app to gain smartwatch integration, of course. Early last year, Microsoft released pint-sized versions of OneDrive, OneNote, Skype, Yammer, and Cortana voice assistant. In August 2015, the software giant debuted Outlook for Apple Watch, a fully featured email client that allows you to archive, delete, flag, and schedule emails.
Slides’ Android Wear controls and Chromecast integration are a pairing made in heaven. Back in June 2015, the Google Slides app gained the ability to beam presentations to Google’s Chromecast dongle: approach a Chromecast, hit the Cast button that appears in the app, and your smartphone becomes a controller from which you can progress backward and forward through slides, keep track of the presentation’s progress, and view slide notes.