Android

How to get completely customized info on your Android Wear watch face

Android Wear watches have a frustratingly small amount of options available when it comes to faces. If you want to really unlock your Wear's power you need to make your own watch face.

iStock/william87

Last week I wrote about getting more value out of the watch face on an Apple Watch. Now it's time to talk about Android Wear. I wish it were as simple as telling you about complications, but that's not the case for this breed of smartwatch.

SEE: Android Wear smartwatches: The benefits for professionals (TechRepublic)

If you own an Android Wear watch you know that there are a million and one watch faces available to download from the Google Play store. You probably also know that most all of them are either ugly, devoid of useful information, or expensive (sometimes all three at once).

To make matters worse most of those watch faces are minimally customizable. You can tweak certain things about them, but beyond that you're stuck with whatever data the author thought was best for their watch face.

So here we are with the exact opposite problem of the Apple Watch: a lot of watch face options but no way to modify them with different complications. The answer is actually right in front of you, though: the watch face on Android Wear watches is just one big customizable complication—if you have the right app.

It's not that complicated, really

If your searches through Google Play for the right watch face have left you frustrated, don't worry. There's an easy way to create your own watch faces and customize every little bit of the screen: WatchMaker.

WatchMaker and apps like it allow you to design your own watch face from the ground up, which means you're getting complete control over the entire thing. Want to put your heart rate right on the face? How about the humidity, upcoming appointments, your compass bearing, Wi-Fi strength, or even the temperature of your phone's battery? All possible, and that's just some of what you can do.

The other great thing you can do is link the info on your watch face right to an app. Say you want to tap the forecast and open the weather app on your Android Wear—simple. The same goes for most every app on the watch.

SEE: Top IoT and wearable tech trends for 2016: Smartwatches in transition as smartglasses rule (TechRepublic)

What's the catch?

If you like the look of the modular watch face on the Apple Watch there's really no catch. If, however, you want to use custom images for the back or foreground of your watch face you'll need to pay $3.99 for the premium version of the WatchMaker app.

That's just WatchMaker, though. If you choose to experiment with some of the other watch face making apps for Android Wear you may find something that works for you, all without requiring you to make a payment.

I love the minimalism of the Modular Apple Watch face. All I want is information at my fingertips, and WatchMaker allowed me to get it on my Android Wear too.

If you want to see app-specific data (like turn-by-turn directions) appear like an Apple Watch complication you're not going to find WatchMaker as robust. It's great at providing information and allowing you to completely customize your experience, but it's going to be a generalized one unless you want to learn to program your own expressions using the Lua programming language.

Curious about customization?

Navigating WatchMaker can be confusing for new users. If you want to harness the power behind custom watch faces check out the gallery located here.


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About Brandon Vigliarolo

Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.

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