Android Wear: everything you need to know

Google smartwatches for Android rival Apple Watch

Google Wear fitness apps

Google's Android Wear smartwatches can solve everyone's pesky pedometer gripes, whether it's always losing the easy-to-misplace device or not having it with you at all times.

This should remedy the problem we have with Samsung's S-Health app in Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy S5. These phones are sometimes sitting idle on a table while we move, robbing us of our workout goal.

It'll also give Google a way to rival Apple's iOS 8 Health app that's a part of iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and other iDevices including next spring's Apple Watch. Right in Android Wear's territory.

Google Android apps
Check in for flights without ever losing your boarding pass again

Latching a wearable to our wrist can count every step and chart whether or not we're meeting our exercise goals. Fitbit Force, Nike FuelBand SE, Jawbone Up24 and Samsung Gear Fit have all proven this.

Google Fit promises to aggregate data like heart rate, steps taken and blood glucose, and to connect with our favorite fitness apps for real-time speed, distance and time data while walking, running and cycling.

So far, Google's app underwhelmingly tracks steps, in the case of Samsung Gear Live and Moto 360, a semi-accurate heart rate. Motorola's Heart Rate Activity app just adds a extra motivational interface.

The app needs more metrics and really needs the graphs that break free of the watch interface. Why isn't this data on an Android or computer yet?

Google Android apps
The worst part is that Google Fit's metrics are stuck on the watch

The wait may be worth it. Fitbit Force and FuelBand lack smartwatch capabilities and, as stylish as the Gear Fit may be, it's only accessible by Samsung smartphones, not all Android devices.

That leaves the door wide open for Google among Android owners, and with GPS now enabled hopefully we'll start seeing more watches and apps using the chip, beyond just the Smartwatch 3 from Sony.

QR codes, music and Chromecast

Google's Android Wear multitasks you run for an already-boarding flight. You can keep count of calories burned while flashing a QR code in front of the airline employee in order to board the flight.

Music can be stored onboard the (usually) 4GB memory, with the Sony Smartwatch 3 kicking off housing songs on the wristwatch. All watches can still activate song playing via voice commands too.

Google calls this a "key to a multiscreen world." Further out, it promises to cast movies to a TV, presumably with its inexpensive Chromecast streaming device, open garage doors with smart home connectivity.

"There's a lot of possibilities here so we're eager to see what developers build," wrote Pichai toward the end of his announcement post.

Android Wear apps
The first wave of third-party Android Wear apps

Third-party apps on Google Play

Android Wear is made even more convincing as a smartwatch because developers will be able to easily translate their apps from Google's mobile ecosystem.

There are now more than 4000 Android Wear apps in the official subsection on the Google Play Store with the best coming directly from Google.

Maps makes it convenient to pull up walking directions or, if you're in the car, voice activate navigation to your dash-mounted smartphone without awkwardly leaning over into the steering wheel.

Android Wear apps
Google Maps is one of the best apps

Hangouts beams text and instant messages to the wrist. It's one of the best features, as you can quickly dismiss trivial correspondents while getting a head start on the important ones.

We've finally got an Uber app, Lyft can call cars with a simple voice phrase, Evernote can help you jot down thoughts, you can see the power left in your Ford (and find your car) Hue Control can turn your lights on and off and Glympse can beam your location to friends.

Outside of the official apps, all notifications that appear in your smartphone's notification tray make their way to the smartwatch.

Android Wear apps
Beam your real-time location to friends you're supposed to meet while briskly walking

There are also apps and watch faces that don't appear in the Android Wear subsection, but work with the watches nonetheless. We particularly like the unofficial GoldenEye 007 watch face.

Ware Aware is also a developer-made top pick for us because it vibrates every time we accidentally walk away from our phone. It doesn't appear in Google's special subsection and it's clear third-party devs are moving quickly.

It shouldn't take long for your favorite apps to appear on the Android Wear range whereas developers may struggle to navigate Samsung's Tizen platform that's limited to its Galaxy devices.