When it comes to smartwatches, new features—including Android Wear’s intuitive operating system—mean there’s a ton of cutting-edge things to try out.
Sleek, stylish and doggone handy, here are eight reasons why a wrist near you might enjoy wearing a smartwatch:
1. Get directions
With the car packed and your crew buckled up, get turn-by-turn directions (as long as your phone is in the car with you).
How it works: Just say “OK Google, navigate to” and state your destination. Turn-by-turn navigation such as “turn right on Washington Street in 50 feet” will appear.
2. Connect to your phone from afar
You can connect your phone to any of the smartwatches with the latest version of Android Wear, even when they're miles apart. If your smartwatch is connected to Wi-Fi while your phone is connected to Wi-Fi or a cellular network, you can send messages and access email on your smartwatch.
How it works: Make sure your Wi-Fi password is already loaded on the smartwatch. If you’re going to a new place and a Wi-Fi password is needed, your phone must be present to key in the password (but only once). To connect your compatible smartwatch to Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi must be set to automatic in its Wi-Fi settings. You also need to make sure Android Wear cloud sync is on. On your phone, open Android Wear, touch the settings icon, touch cloud sync, and move the switch to the on position.
3. Use voice search
Ask a question or text a friend hands-free, all while buying movie tickets or waiting in the checkout line.
How it works: To activate voice search, just say “OK Google,” which tells your smartwatch to start listening. Ask anything, such as “Will it rain tomorrow?” You can even set reminders, such as “Remind me to call Jill at noon.” Need to text a friend you’re running late? Just speak into the smartwatch, and what you say will be converted into a text that you can send. You can also start an app simply by saying “OK Google, open,” and then the name of the app.
4. Send “hand drawn” emojis to your pals
How it works: Simply draw them with your finger on your smartwatch screen. Suppose a friend texts: “drinks or a bike ride after dinner?” Just swipe your smartwatch until you see “reply,” then select “draw emoji.” When you start to sketch a cocktail glass, for example, the smartwatch recognizes it and gives you a list of emojis to choose from. Just select the one you want to send and, voila.
5. Stay informed
Get alerts about breaking news and weather, great for helping make sure your travel plans don’t hit any unexpected roadblocks.
How it works: With Google Now cards, your information is automatically organized into simple cards that appear when needed. Just sign in and adjust the settings to determine what info you want and when without having to search for it. Google Now will also give you info you didn’t realize you needed, such as “leave now for your 10 a.m. meeting,” while factoring in traffic, weather and location. View the list of cards now available.
6. Play music, shop, book a flight and more
Customize your smartwatch with thousands of Android Wear apps that let you do everything from making an airline reservation to changing your font size for a more stylish look.
How it works: Visit the Google Play™ store, then download apps to your smartwatch. There’s one that lets you shop on Amazon. Another lets you use Pinterest (the app will alert you if you’re near a place you’ve pinned). You can even track your steps or distance traveled. Use your smartwatch as a remote to play music on your phone or you can download music to your smartwatch and listen to it through a Bluetooth® speaker or headset.
7. Respond to messages on the fly
Access emails and messages and reply to them right from your smartwatch.
How it works: Digging for your phone to thumb out a reply can take more time than you have—and often isn’t necessary. Ping them with a pithy response from your wrist by using your voice, a canned response or a few emojis.
8. Dress it smartly with different watchbands
Bring a sense of personal style to your smartwatch by swapping out the band with one that better suits your tastes.
How it works: When it comes to replacing your smartwatch band, choices you’ll have include material and style. So what kind of options are out there?