10 of the most annoying Wear OS problems, and how to fix them

Wear OS problems - Fossil Q Explorist
Simon Hill / Digital Trends
Simon Hill/Digital Trends

After a clunky start, Wear OS (formerly known as Android Wear) is beginning to hit its stride. Smartwatches are improving with every iteration, and Google rolled out a host of welcome improvements in Android Wear 2.0. Despite going in the right direction, however, it hasn’t gotten there quite yet. If you’ve running into Wear OS problems, then you aren’t alone. We’ve put together a list of the most common problems plaguing Wear OS users, along with advice on how to fix or get around them.

You should also read up on our Wear OS tips and tricks, and if you’re in the market for a new technological timepiece, then check out our picks for the best smartwatches.

Glitch: Rapid battery drain on phone

A lot of users on the Google product forums have been complaining about the battery on their connected smartphone draining faster than it should. This is probably the most commonly reported problem that people are encountering with Wear OS. Take a look under Settings > Battery on your phone and you may be able to see where the problem lies. There are various potential causes.

Workarounds:

  • Look for problem apps causing excessive battery drain and consider uninstalling them.
  • Some people report a significant drop in battery drain after turning off Google Now. To do this go to Settings > Accounts > Google > Search and tap Now cards at the bottom, then toggle it off.
  • Reducing the screen brightness will reduce battery drain. Swipe down from the top of the screen and tap Settings > Display > Adjust brightness.
  • It’s a good idea to turn off any notifications you don’t need on your smartwatch. Open the Wear OS app on your phone and tap the gear icon for Settings, then Block app notifications.

Potential solutions:

  • Start off by rebooting your watch and your smartphone and see if it makes a difference. Go to Settings > Restart on your watch.
  • Make sure you’re running the latest version of the Wear OS app that corresponds with Android or iOS.
  • Try resetting your watch to factory settings and pairing it from scratch. Remember that you’ll lose any data on the watch, so sync first. When you’re ready, go to Settings > Reset device on your watch. Try uninstalling and re-installing the Wear OS app on your smartphone. Now try pairing your watch with your smartphone again.
  • It’s possible that a Wi-Fi network is causing the issue. Some people have discovered the battery drains when connected to specific Wi-Fi networks. Test to see if the problem occurs when the phone is connected to your cellular data network. If the drain occurs when you’re connected to your work Wi-Fi then ask IT if they are limiting outbound connections, it may be that the app is continually trying to connect to a blocked port. You can either persuade IT to open them or use a VPN client to bypass the restrictions.

Issue: Watch won’t connect to phone

This 489 post thread is full of people having trouble getting their Wear OS device to connect to their smartphone. In order to ensure that your phone is definitely compatible go to g.co/WearCheck on your phone.

Potential solutions:

  • Make sure you have Bluetooth turned on.
  • Try restarting your watch and your phone.
  • Open up the Google Play Store app, tap menu at the top left and choose My apps. You want to make sure that Google Play Services, Google Search, and Wear OS are up to date. Have a look for them in the Updates list and update them, or just tap Update all at the top.
  • If your device was previously connected, open up the Wear OS app on your phone and tap Menu > Disconnect and then Menu > Connect.
  • Go to Settings > Apps and find the Wear OS app on your phone and tap Clear cache.
  • You could also try resetting your watch to factory settings via Settings > System > Disconnect & reset on the watch.

Glitch: Notifications not coming through

A number of Wear OS users are having trouble with inconsistent notifications. The watch will just randomly stop receiving notifications even though it says it is connected. This can happen multiple times in a day. Sometimes it will seemingly resolve itself, other times it won’t.

Workaround:

  • Restarting the watch seems to work for most people in the short term, but the problem can reoccur, sometimes quite quickly.

Potential solutions:

  • A few have found success after clearing all data for Google Play Services. To do this, tap Settings > More > App manager, then swipe to the All section and tap Google Play Services > Clear cache or Clear data.
  • If your phone runs Android 7.0 Nougat, go to Settings > Notifications > Settings > On the lock screen. Check to see if the Show all notification content option has been enabled.
  • Check the priority settings on your Android phone
    • Go to Sound > Do not disturb > Priority only allows. On this page, you can set your priority notifications, which includes Alarms, Reminders, Events, Messages and Calls.
    • Check to see if Priority Mode is on. In your Quick Settings, tap Do not disturb > priority only. From here, you can set Priority Mode to last for a specific length of time, or until you manually turn it off.
  • On iPhone, go to Settings > Notifications to adjust your notification settings, or go to Settings > Do Not Disturb to see if the feature has been enabled.
  • Check nothing is muted in the Android Wear app on your phone under Settings > Block app notifications.
  • Check the Show notifications box is ticked for the app in question via Settings > Apps > All on your phone or tablet.
  • Make sure that Theater or Cinema mode is turned off on your watch. You can turn it on and off by pressing the power button on your watch twice quickly, or swipe down from the top of the screen then swipe right to left until you see Theater mode.
  • Get rid of old Bluetooth profiles via Settings > Bluetooth on your phone. If you have other devices listed under Paired devices then tap the gear icon at the right and choose Unpair or Forget.
  • Try disconnecting the watch and forget the Bluetooth connection on your phone. Uninstall the Wear OS app on your phone. Reset your watch to factory settings via Settings > System > Disconnect & reset. Restart your phone and reinstall the Wear OS app and then set up the connection afresh.
  • If you’re still having issues then you may have to contact support.

Glitch: Wear OS keeps crashing

Several Wear OS users have been experiencing random crashes, sometimes with the “Unfortunately, Wear OS has stopped” or “Unfortunately, Android Wear has stopped” message. These can be frequent, or intermittent, with no obvious cause. There are a few different things you can try:

Workaround:

  • Some people have had success by removing Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync accounts. It may also be related to a recurring appointment in your calendar, or to the security policies on your Exchange account. Unfortunately, there isn’t a great deal you can do about this beyond removing the recurring appointment, or, if that doesn’t work, removing the account.
  • Another suggested workaround, if you’re using an iPhone, is to turn on Airplane Mode/turn off Wi-Fi, and enable Bluetooth before launching the Wear OS app. However, turning on Wi-Fi can cause the app to crash again.

Potential solutions:

  • Make sure that the Wear OS app is up to date on your phone by opening up the Google Play Store and tapping the menu icon at the top left, then My apps.
  • Make sure that you have the latest updates from Google in Settings > About > System Updates.
  • Try going to Settings > Apps, swipe over to the All tab and find Wear OS. Tap Clear cache, Clear data, and Force close, then try again.
  • Try deleting the connection, uninstalling the Wear OS app, reinstalling it, and then setting the connection up again.

Problem: Can’t connect to Wi-Fi

A few people have had issues connecting to Wi-Fi directly on their Wear OS device. Not every Wear OS device will actually support Wi-Fi, so check with your manufacturer.

Official solution:

  • On February 2, a community manager for the Google Products forums stated the Wi-Fi issue had been solved in a recent update to the Wear OS app. Those affected should update the Wear OS app for their Android or iOS device.

Potential solutions:

  • If you’re sure that your device supports Wi-Fi, then open up the Wear OS app on your phone and tap Settings > Privacy & Personal Data > Cloud sync and make sure it’s turned on. Next, go to Settings > Connectivity > Wi-Fi on your watch, and make sure it’s set to Automatic. You can also check saved networks in here and add new ones.
  • It’s possible that your watch doesn’t support the channel your router is set to. This was a problem for some LG Watch Urbane owners, because the watch could only go up to channel 11, but it was supposed to be fixed by a software update. Take a look in Settings > System > About > System Updates, to make sure you have the latest OS version. You could also change the channel on your router to a lower channel.

Bug: ‘OK Google’ appearing on watch face

Some Wear OS users have found that the “OK Google” phrase is present on their watch face when the screen comes on. Thankfully, it’s easy to get rid of.

Solution:

  • Just say “OK Google” three or four times and it will disappear.

Problem: Voice commands trigger search instead of app

Quite a few Wear OS users have encountered an issue with voice commands. They’ll say a command expecting it to relate to an app, but it actually just returns a Google search. This can happen when trying to set a reminder, an alarm, or launch a specific app.

Potential solution:

Problem: Can’t use or update to Wear OS 2.0 (Android Wear 2.0)

Despite Wear OS 2.0 (Android Wear 2.0) being the latest version of the app to come to Android smartwatches, some users are unable to use, or even install, the update. There are some people who have said they’ve downloaded the update, but their watch continues to show the incorrect version numbers. Others are curious about their watch’s compatibility, after being unable to receive the 2.0 update. In both cases, however, there are very simple explanations.

Official solutions:

  • The exact date you get the update depends on your your hardware manufacturer.
  • As for future Compatibility, new smartwatches moving forward will come with Wear OS 2.0 (Android Wear 2.0) preinstalled. The update will support some older models, save for the LG G Watch, Samsung Gear Live, Moto 360 V1, Sony Smartwatch 3, and the Asus ZenWatch V1. To see a full list of compatible models, look no further than our Android Wear 2.0 guide.
  • Additionally, make sure your smartwatch is on its charger, paired with your smartphone, and connected to Wi-Fi. Otherwise, you won’t be able to download the update when it arrives.

Problem: Unable to install Google Play Music app

LG Watch Sport users have reportedly been unable to find or install the Google Play Music app on their Wear OS device. When searching for the app on the watch’s version of the Google Play Store, the music app does not appear.

Solutions:

  • Open the Android Wear app on your phone. Tap Settings > Your smartwatch > Resync apps.
  • If you’ve recently used Google Play Music on your phone or a previous watch, open the Google Play Store on your watch and go to Apps you’ve used. Here, you may be able to find and install the Google Play Music app.

Glitch: Apps and updates won’t download

Some people are having trouble downloading apps or app updates from the Play Store on their Android smartwatch. The download just hangs with a “Download pending” message, according to posts on the Google support forum and Reddit.

Workaround:

  • Try turning Wi-Fi off on your smartwatch as that has worked for some people. Go to Settings > Connectivity > Wi-Fi and turn it off.

Possible solutions:

  • Open the Wear OS app on your phone and tap the gear icon for Settings, then tap your smartwatch name, Q Explorist, for example, and tap Resync apps.
  • Try going to Settings > Apps on your phone, find Google Play Store and tap Storage > Clear cache and Clear data. Repeat the process for Google Play services and Wear OS in the Settings > Apps list.
  • If that doesn’t help then it’s time to factory reset. On your watch, go to Settings > System > Disconnect & reset. Uninstall the Wear OS app on your phone. Go to Settings > Bluetooth on your phone and find your smartwatch under Paired devices then tap the gear icon at the right and choose Unpair or Forget. Try wiping the cache and data for Google Play Store and Google Play Services again, as described in the last possible solution above. Open Play Store on your phone, tap the three horizontal lines at the top left and tap My apps & games, then Update all and wait for it to complete. Once you’ve done that, reinstall the Wear OS app on your phone and set up your smartwatch as new.