Samsung Gear Live review

An Android Wear smartwatch for early adopters who can't wait for Moto 360

Samsung Gear Live review
The surprise smartwatch at Google IO with an unsurprising design

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Right now, Android Wear is more like "Android Where?" with a lack of apps. It's to be expected. Gear Live and other smartwatches need to latch onto developers first.

There are 42 apps within this special section of the Google Play Store, up from the 35 at at launch a month ago, though this is far from the full list of Android Wear apps. A few are missing.

Samsung Gear Live review

Of course a Flappy Bird clone is among the first Android Wear. Of course!

Evernote for Android Wear and Flappy Bird-clone Flopsy Droid, for example, are compatible, but for some reason didn't make the cut in the official subsection. You have to search for them.

Google pulled this same stunt when it first launched Chromecast. A few featured apps by big-name firms were highlighted when smaller developers only appeared after searching.

Digging deeper by searching for "Android Wear," there are new watches faces, calendars, calculators and a dialer for your Android phone in the Google Play Store.

Waiting for Android L's Personal Unlock feature so you can bypass the PIN lock with a Bluetooth-connected wearable? Someone went ahead and created it for Android Wear. You just have to find it.

Just as convenient but curiously hard to find is the Wear Aware Phone Finder app that buzzes you when your phone is out of range, likely forgotten in the car again. Something like this certainly deserves to be surfaced by Google.

Now that some of the smaller developers have gotten their due, some apps in the official list are worth mentioning.

Google Maps is incredibly handy when asking the watch, "OK Google, navigate to..." The route appears on the phone and turn-by-turn directions populate the watch.

That's convenient when driving. Normally, the phone interface is dangerously complex and takes too many presses to get the route to show up. Not here.

Samsung Gear Live review

A great companion to reaching for a dash-mounted phone with Google Maps

Voice recognition also makes it easy to send Google Hangouts and texts and the same technology can be used to call a driver when logged into Lyft.

Dropcam, a recent Google Nest acquisition, turns its small security cameras off and on as you enter and exit your home's WiFi fence. "Welcome back. Camera is off" and "See you soon. Camera is on" messages let you know everything is safe.

Gear Live doesn't contain a speaker, but calling up a song with "Play: Turn Down for What?" pushes the track to your phone thanks to Google Play Music. That's great for the gym.

Also practical when working out are Runtastic and Runkeeper, allowing you to start running, biking and tracking other exercise sessions without fiddling with the phone.

Samsung Gear Live review

Android Wear fitness apps are starting to show up for download

Google Fit is built into the smartwatch and tracks daily steps and, when asked, your heart rate. My steps score was inflated compared to the far more accurate Jawbone Up24, a problem I have experienced with Fitbit's line of wearables.

The heart rate monitor was all over the place too, jumping more than beats per minute with each reading. As Samsung contends, the heart rate monitor is not for medical purposes.

While Lyft is here, Uber is late to this smartwatch platform party. Level Money is here, but Mint is missing out. We're hoping that they and other notable apps are on the way to expanding Android Wear.

Matt Swider