A smartwatch can be a great business tool, especially when paired with the right apps. Watches such as the LG G Watch, Samsung Gear Live and upcoming Moto 360 run on Android Wear, a new mobile operating system designed by Google specifically for wearable devices. Android Wear smartwatcheslink wirelessly to your smartphone to push notifications, alerts and other content straight to your wrist. By downloading an Android Wear-compatible app to your smartphone, you can enable new productivity-boosting functionality right on your watch. The current crop of Android Wear-enabled apps is small but growing. Here are eight of the best.
Evernoteis a powerful note-taking application that's now compatible with Android Wear devices. When you want to take a note, say, "OK, Google, take a note," to activate Evernote, then dictate your note verbally. Alternately, you can tap on your home screen, then select "take a note" before dictating. In addition to taking notes, you can also view an existing note on your smartwatch by viewing it on your phone, then locking the screen; the note will beam straight to your watch. You can even search for a specific note right on your watch using voice commands, and you get automatic alerts on your watch when you set a calendar event in Evernote.
Google Mapsis an invaluable tool to get you where you need to be, whether you're going to the airport or just meeting a colleague for lunch. The navigation app is built right into Android Wear, so you can get turn-by-turn directions on your wrist. To activate Google Maps, say, "OK, Google, navigate to," then state the address of your destination. Alternately, you can issue commands such as "navigate to Work" or "navigate Home," so long as those locations are already saved to your Google account. You can also make general navigation requests, such as "navigate to the nearest gas station."
Hangoutsbrings SMS text messaging to your wrist, to help you keep in contact with employees, coworkers and colleagues. When you receive a new message on your smartphone, you'll automatically get an alert on your wrist. You can read a new text message, delete it or reply using voice dictation. All your actions are synced across your devices, so you can send a few messages on your smartwatch, then pick up right where you left off on your smartphone. If you want to send a new message, just say, "OK, Google, text (contact name)," then state your message.
Google Keep is a pinboard-style app that lets you create notes, to-do lists and more in a hurry. Just open the app on your Android phone and add a new item by speaking, snapping a photo or manually entering text. The app's highly visual layout lets you survey your tasks, lists and notes at a glance. Google Keep also includes Android Wear integration. Just set it as your primary notes app, then use voice commands to take a note on your smartwatch; your note will automatically sync with your Google Keep account. You can also set an alarm to serve as a reminder for any item, and receive an alert on your smartwatch for when an item's time comes.
Cloud Magicis a pretty good alternative to Gmail for business users who want a mobile email app with expanded functionality. The app lets you combine multiple email accounts into a single unified inbox, with color-coded tags on each message so you know which account it came from. It also features a powerful search bar that lets you look for a specific email message across all your accounts at once. And the Android app integrates with Android Wear smartwatches as well, so you can receive email alerts on your wrist. When a new message arrives, you can archive it, delete it or reply to it with a few taps.
Unexpected weather events can throw a wrench into your business plans, but an app like 1Weathercan help ensure a storm won't catch you off guard. It's a full-featured smartphone app that offers real-time weather alerts, extended forecasts and more. And you can view that weather information on your wrist by linking the 1Weather app to your smartwatch. The app will show you current conditions in your main Android Wear feed, and let you swipe over to view the extended forecast for your current location.
Level Moneyis a personal finance app that can help small business owners track their spending and manage their money. To get started, just link your bank account or credit cards to the Android smartphone app. The app will automatically track your income, savings and recurring bills, then show you your "spendable" cash, so you know how much you can buy that month, week or day. Level Money also links to Android Wear devices so you can view your spendable balance and transaction info at a glance.
Contacts+is a beefed-up contacts manager for Android that integrates with social media channels. That means you can quickly view a contact's up-to-date information and any recent activity on social networks at a glance. And now Contacts+ supports Android Wear devices with extra functionality. For example, you can easily share your contact details by bumping your smartwatch to another NFC-enabled watch or smartphone. And if you use Contacts+ for text messaging, it can show you incoming text messages on your watch, and let you reply or snooze a message for later.