Smartwatches may not have stormed the world like many anticipated when they first hit the market, but they are still very useful and often stylish gadgets to own.
Of course, the key to getting the most out of your smartwatch is to know the best apps to equip your device with.
Here are the top five smartwatch apps for Android Wear in 2017.
The IFTTT platform adds an extra layer of functionality to all devices, and that includes your Android Wear smartwatch.
If you still haven’t gotten to know IFTTT, now is the time to get acquainted. It stands for “If this, then that,” and it allows you to create “recipes” — or functions that are triggered by another action.
One simple example for Android Wear watches is to get notified about the current charge percentage of your phone. If you’re busy at work and notice your phone’s battery is low, you can use this recipe to plug in your phone and monitor its charge right on your wrist.
With IFTTT, the possibilities are nearly endless. Similar to the above example, you can receive a notification on your watch when your phone’s battery is low. Social media junkies can set it up to alert your watch when somebody tags you in a Facebook post. Sports fans can set it up to get final score alerts on their favorite teams from ESPN as soon as games end.
Another cool thing about IFTTT is you can use it to connect to trigger your smart home devices based on your location. For example, if you go out for an evening run, IFTTT can turn on the smart lights in your home when you (and your watch) return within a designated radius.
Tech gadgets and platforms are all about making your life easier, and using IFTTT with your Android smartwatch is a good way to do so.
The Lifesum app is like having a personal health and lifestyle guide in your pocket, or in this case, on your wrist. Whatever your lifestyle goals are — lose weight, build muscle, eat healthier, etc. — Lifesum can help you get there.
The core feature of the app is its ability to track your meals and physical activity. When you enter individual foods, the app gives you a letter grade on an A-E scale. If your food item gets and A, it doesn’t get much healthier. If it gets an E, it means it’s high in either saturated fat, calories, sugar or sodium (or all four).
Lifesum is also a nice motivation tool that gives you inspiring tips to help you stay on track to meet your goals. It’s also compatible with various social media platforms so you can connect with friends and help motivate and challenge each other.
The Lifesum app is free, but there is also a premium version that allows you to sync it with other fitness apps including Runkeeper, FitBit, Jawbone and Moves.
The premium membership also gives you access to more specialized diets and detailed nutrition information, so you can track your 4 R’s for exercise refueling.
The app isn’t perfect, though. Some have complained that nutrient data for some foods is wrong, but the data that is verified by Lifesum and includes a logo indicator is typically right on.
Overall, Lifesum is one of the best fitness and food trackers on the market, and it’s a must-have for your Android watch.
For years the Shazam app has been great for helping you identify new songs or maybe letting you know the artist of a catchy tune you’ve been hearing a lot lately. The app is simple enough to use, but admit it — there has been a time or two when you were fumbling around with your phone and by the time you had the app ready to go, the song was over.
That’s never the case with Shazam for Android Wear, which syncs when you pair your watch and phone. Now, instead of having to pull out your phone, you can easily use Shazam and the microphone on your watch to identify that hot new song you’ve been hearing.
Also, since the watch app syncs with the phone version when your devices are paired, anything you Shazam from your watch will be saved in the My Shazam section on your phone. That means you can go back later and buy any tracks you’ve identified using Shazam on your watch.
There is one caveat. Since the watch app syncs with the phone version, it means your watch needs to be within Bluetooth range of your phone to function. That’s typically not a problem since it’s likely your phone is in your pocket or purse anyway, but if you forgot your phone or happen to be away from it, Shazam won’t work on your watch.
That said, the app is ultra-convenient, particularly if you’re driving and hear a song on the radio you want to learn more about. It’s not advised to pull out your phone to Shazam a song while driving, but it’s much easier to do so from your wrist.
If you love snapping photos with your phone — and who doesn’t — then the PixtoCam app for Android Wear is a must. Think of the app as a remote viewfinder and controller for your phone’s camera, allowing you to see what your phone’s camera sees on your watch’s screen.
The app costs $1.99, but you’ll quickly realize it’s worth every penny. It’s useful in so many situations. For example, if you’re using your phone’s camera and timer to take a group photo, you can make sure you’ve got the perfect shot by previewing it on your wrist first. The watch app gives you a preview in real time, and on most phones, this also works in movie recording mode.
It’s also very useful when your phone is in an awkward position. For example, if you want to take a photo with your phone positioned on the ground, you can use PixtoCam to make sure your angle is right without having to get on the ground yourself.
PixtoCam is even easy to launch. Simply use the voice command “start viewfinder” to open it. Then you can use your watch to control just about every camera function on your phone. You can switch between rear and front cameras. You can turn the flash on or off. You can zoom in and out. You can set the phone camera’s self-timer. You can even use it to turn on your phone’s flashlight feature.
Whether you’re a budding photographer or an expert Instagrammer, the PixtoCam app is a great companion tool to help you get the most out of your phone’s camera.
If you do a lot of shopping, whether for you or for the family, it’s likely you have a stack of rewards loyalty cards from various retailers stowed away in your wallet or purse. These rewards programs are nice, particularly if you frequent a particular store often, but it’s not exactly the most convenient thing to dig through your wallet to pull out the correct card each time you make a purchase.
That’s where the Stocard app comes in. The app stores all of your loyalty cards on your smartphone and allows you to redeem them right from your phone. The smartwatch app makes it even easier, allowing the cashier to scan a barcode on your wrist to make sure you get the rewards you earn.
The app works with rewards programs from a long list of major retailers, including Starbucks, Lowe’s, Rite Aid, Sephora, Best Buy, Walgreens and CVS. The latest version of the app also allows you to check the balance of each of your rewards or loyalty accounts.
If you’re the type of shopper who loves getting deals and rewards for your purchases, you’ll want to give the Stocard app a try.
Get More From Your Smartwatch
These are five of the best apps for Android smartwatches, and they should certainly be in your regular rotation. But there are also plenty more useful apps out there.
Which apps do you use and love?
Image by Jack Moreh