The best Android Wear apps of 2015

Google's wrist-based computing platform got a whole lot better over the last year.

best wear apps 2015 primary
Credit: Ryan Whitwam
Android Wear grew up this year

There were some big updates to Android Wear in 2015, and new watches finally started showing up after a long dry spell. Even if you have a fancy new watch with its spiffy new Android Wear OS, you're still not taking full advantage of having a tiny computer on your wrist.

For that you need apps, and good ones! These are the best Android Wear-compatible apps from 2015, all of which are worthy of being on your wrist.

best wear apps 2015 do
Credit: Ryan Whitwam
Do Button

The folks from IFTTT launched a new app in 2015 called Do Button, and it has Android Wear support. Why is that a big deal? Because IFTTT can be used to automate a ton of services and products using recipes following the formula: if this, then that. Do Button basically makes the ‘“if” part a button that you can tap at any time to perform an action. All those buttons are available on your watch too. So what can you do? Lot’s of stuff including control Philips Hue lights, send emails, and more. As an example, you can make a button that rings your phone with a dummy call from IFTTT. Perfect for getting out of an awkward situation using only your watch.

Do Button (free)

best wear apps 2015 field trip
Credit: Ryan Whitwam
Field Trip

The Field Trip app from Niantic (formerly part of Google) is an app geared toward letting you know when there’s cool stuff nearby. It used to only work on your phone, but in 2015 an Android Wear module was added. Getting location-based updates from Field Trip makes a ton of sense on your watch. When something cool is close, a card will pop up on the watch with basic info, a map, and a link to open the app on your phone. You can chance your app settings to control how often points of interest appear and what sort of locations will be included.

Field Trip (free)

best wear apps 2015 lightr
Credit: Ryan Whitwam
Lightr

Lightr is a simple app meant exclusively for Android Wear, but it’s one I use frequently. This app lets you override the intentionally short backlight timeout on Android Wear. It’s great if you’re using your watch for managing a list or reading feeds (we’ll get to that later) and you’re sick of it going to sleep every few seconds. It’ll drain your battery faster; that’s the tradeoff. Lightr includes timeout settings as long as a minute, significantly longer than the five seconds you get by default. That goes up to five minutes in the pro version.

Lightr (free, $1 in-app upgrade)

best wear apps 2015 authenticator
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Google Authenticator

Keeping your online accounts secure is important, and 2-factor authentication is the best tool you have to do that. This feature is available on most services (eg. Google, Dropbox, and so on) and requires a secondary code along with your password before you can log into your account. The code is usually delivered via SMS or generated with an app like Google Authenticator. It just so happens that Google Authenticator now supports Android Wear, which is really convenient. Just open the Authenticator app on your watch and it’ll show you the necessary code.

Google Authenticator (free)

best wear apps 2015 wear charging widget
Credit: Ryan Whitwam
Wear Charging Widget

Motorola has a cool charging widget on its watches, and a few other OEMs have tried to ape the design. Not wanting to straight up rip the Motorola design off, these haven’t been very good attempts. Wear Charging Widget takes the Motorola design and adds a ton of customization including weather, date, colors, and clock modes. Just drop it on the charger, and your customized widget will come up. The basic circular charging widgets are free, but the ones with cool backgrounds are only available in the €1 pro version.

Wear Charging Widget (free, €1 in-app upgrade)

best wear apps 2015 photo gallery
Credit: Ryan Whitwam
Photo Gallery for Android Wear

A lot of Android phones have great cameras these days, so you probably take more pictures than you once did. Photo Gallery for Android Wear is exactly what it sounds like—a gallery app for your watch. Adapting phone apps to a watch is usually a bad idea, but this one works pretty well. Photo Gallery has all the image folders on your phone and preview the images right on the watch. You can tell a lot about the image if your watch has a good screen. From the watch, you have options to share, delete, and open an image on your phone. Photo Gallery for Android Wear is free to try, but it costs $1.49 if you want to see more than 50 pictures per folder.

Photo Gallery for Android Wear (free, $1.49 in-app upgrade)

best wear apps 2015 moveup
Credit: Ryan Whitwam
MoveUp! MultiTimer

Android Wear has a dedicated timer app that was added in a semi-recent update, but it’s pretty lacking in features. MoveUp! MultiTimer, on the other hand, has all the features you could ever want in a timer app for your watch. You can have multiple simultaneous timers, timer names, custom colors, vibration patterns, and more. There’s a $1.99 pro version upgrade that adds unlimited timers. It looks like the free version is limited to four, which is still plenty for most people.

MoveUp! MultiTimer (free, $1.99 in-app upgrade)

best wear apps 2015 shazam
Credit: Ryan Whitwam
Shazam

Shazam has existed for ages, but in 2015 an Android Wear module was added. Now you don't have to break out the phone to figure out what that song is. Just open the Shazam app on your watch and it'll use the built-in mic to listen for music and ID the track. The matches will be saved in your phone's Shazam app for future reference. You can even get real-time lyrics synced to the song, sometimes. Shazam is free, but there are some ads in the phone app. The Android Wear functionality is unaffected.

Shazam (free)

best wear apps 2015 source
Credit: Ryan Whitwam
Source

Source is just one of many capable feed readers for Android, but it has the best Android Wear integration of any of them. This app was released to the public in early 2015 after a short beta test, and it integrates with several feed aggregators like Feedly and The Old Reader. On Android Wear, you can scroll through your entire feed, which is handy for triaging a big list of unread content. The watch also has the ability to pull up all the text you'd see on the phone. This will eat into your battery life, but that's the price you pay.

Source ($1)

best wear apps 2015 at hand tuner
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At Hand Tuner

If you play a musical instrument, you know how often you need to tune up. There are plenty of apps on the Play Store that can act as instrument tuners, but At Hand Tuner stands out by being mainly an Android Wear app. It works on your phone too, but you can tell from the design this app is intended to be on your wrist. It works on a wide range of tunings, and is apparently very accurate. It picks up a low A, for example, which many other tuners can't. It's $2 in the Play Store, but it seems to be the best at what it does.

At Hand Tuner ($2)