When Google rolled out the 5.0 Lollipop update for Android Wear, it brought with it a number of cool features, not least the ability to install any watchface from Google Play (rather than just the ones pre-installed on your device). What’s more, you can now manage them from your smartphone more easily. Here’s how to change the look of your smart wristwatch.
Before you get started, make sure you’re running both the latest version of the Android Wear app on your smartphone and the Android Wear firmware on the watch itself. In the case of the latter, choose About and then System updates from the Settings app to see if version 5.0 or above is on its way (for this guide we worked through the process using the 5.0.1 firmware).
Just like apps, you can browse through watchface via the Play Store on the web or on your mobile device. Many of the offerings are free to install and use, though some charge a premium of a few cents. These ones are usually the more advanced choices. Opt to install any of the faces to your phone and they will appear within the Android Wear app and automatically show up on your watch the next time you change the face.
There isn’t a huge selection to pick from right now, but these early skins do show off some of the potential of Android Wear: Episode tells you what the weather is doing right now and which way it will go next, while Speeds Watch Face Pro includes an integrated speedometer. Several developers seem to be releasing bundles of watchfaces as well as individual ones, and as you would expect each one has to work on both square and circular-shaped devices.
There is an option to change the Android Wear watchface buried in the Settings app on the watch itself but it’s much easier to simply tap and hold on the front of your smartwatch to bring up the selection. Switching between your favourite options is made a little easier thanks to the way that the faces you’ve used most recently are listed first.
With the latest round of updates, you can also switch and manage watchfaces from the Android Wear app on your phone. Launch it and the watchfaces section is right at the top. Tap on a face to set it or choose More if you want to see the whole list. It’s a much better way of getting an overview of the available watchfaces. Via the More menu (three vertical dots) that appears next to each unused face you can prevent it from showing up on your watch, making switching faces on the go even easier.
To actually uninstall a watchface, you’ll need to head to the Apps page of Settings on your Android smartphone. Only third-party watchfaces can be uninstalled; the ones that came with your smartwatch can’t be removed. There really should be an option to uninstall faces from inside the Android Wear app, but it hasn’t appeared yet.
It’s also worth mentioning some of the other new features available in the Android Wear app with the latest update. You can check up on both the battery life and storage space of your device from the settings screen, for example, and like the smartphone version of Android 5.0 you can also set a list of priority apps that are allowed to display notifications on Android Wear. On your watch, drag down from the top of the screen to choose between all notifications, priority notifications and no notifications.