Behind the slim, compact frame of your Android Wear smartwatch sits a wealth of functionality, most of it provided by the Google search and Google Now digital assistant apps.
Voice control is the best way of unlocking everything that your shiny timepiece has to offer. Everything from appointments and holidays to emails and fitness can be accessed from your wrist. And the latest Marshmallow update threw a few more ingredients into the pot as well.
Essential reading: Android Wear super guide
Read on for our round up of the best voice commands for your Android Wear smartwatch.
Saying “OK, Google” now lets you do a variety of things, like texting or asking a question. You’ll be able to verbally send messages through more apps like WhatsApp, Hangouts, Nextplus, Viber and WeChat.
If your Wear watch is either the Huawei Watch or the larger 42mm Asus ZenWatch 2, then you are also one of the few who can make and take calls through Bluetooth, and listen to audio and video messages with the Glide app.
Contextual information from Now
Google Now is the top dog for finding the right information and retrieving it for you – and it’s capable of recognising your natural language and interpreting it, rather than forcing you to learn awkward phrases. Here’s some examples of getting contextual with Google Now.
“When’s my next haircut?”
Android Wear is clever enough to be able to search through your calendar and find matches with the words you say, so you can ask for details of specific events and appointments (such as your next haircut) easily enough. If your smartwatch can’t find anything to match in your upcoming schedule then you’ll get a “no matching events” found message instead.
“When does HSBC shut?”
You might have noticed that many places in Google Maps have opening and closing times associated with them and you can mine this information from your wrist to make sure you aren’t under pressure to finish your shopping (or your pint). As long as the location in question has shared the relevant opening times, Android Wear is able to find and display them.
“What time is it in Sydney?”
Confused about whether a friend is going to be up and about or fast asleep? Simply ask your Android Wear smartwatch what time it is in a particular place and you’ll get your answer (provided your watch understands where you mean). You can use the same trick for countries rather than cities or you can just speak out the name of a recognised time zone instead.
You could be sat watching the latest episode of your favourite television show or leafing through the pages of a number one best-selling book, but whatever the scenario you can get Android Wear to explain what a word means by saying “define” in front of it. For more complicated words you might have to be more careful about how you enunciate them.
“What’s twenty-five pounds in dollars?”
Off on your summer holidays? Android Wear can cope with currency conversions very easily too, so you can make sure you’re not getting ripped off by the shady-looking man sat behind the Bureau de Change desk. The word “dollars” refers to the US kind by default, but you can specify a different type of dollar (like Canadian or Australian) should you need to.
“Say ‘beer’ in Spanish”
Sticking with the holiday theme, Android Wear is able to tap into the magic powers of Google Translate to give you off-the-cuff translations of foreign words (whether into or out of English). It’s not quite the same as being fluent in the local lingo, so don’t give up those Spanish lessons just yet, but your smartwatch can get you out of a sticky situation or two while abroad.
Google Translate has also been beefed up in a recent update – it now works to translate two languages in the same conversation back and forth and is compatible with 44 languages.
“Who wrote Catch-22?”
Android Wear brings the full power of Google (and Google Now) to your wrist so you can ask your smartwatch pretty much any question that would work on the main search engine. Find out who wrote particular books, who starred in particular movies, or how tall someone is (as long as they’re famous — Google doesn’t know that much about your friends just yet).
“What’s the score?”
Another useful bit of information you can get up on your wristwatch display is the latest score for your favourite sports team of choice. Android Wear will show the current state of play (or the most recent result) for the team you mention, using your previous search history on Google and your location to determine what you mean by generic terms such as “united” or “city”.
“Show my steps”
Don’t forget that your Android Wear smartwatch doubles up as a rather handy pedometer you can use to keep track of your daily activity — or at least the number of steps you’re taking each day. Your step count will often show up as a card on Android Wear courtesy of Google Now, but you can use the voice shortcut as well to get an instant assessment of how you’re doing.
Using features in Android Wear
Of course, you can access your smartwatch’s apps and features using voice control as well, which can be much quicker than hammering your 1-inch screen with a sausage-like finger.
Android Wear is great for taking notes on the go.
Say “note to self”, wait for the prompt, then speak out your memo.
Your watch will use the default note-taking app (Google Keep or Evernote for
example) to save the note back to your phone and the Web. If no app is
configured, the note is emailed to your Gmail account instead.
About to set off on a journey and wondering what time you’re going to get there? Ask “how far to…” and then the destination of your choice to see the estimated travel time, based on current traffic conditions. You can opt to navigate straight to the location from your watch, at which point the option to switch to walking or cycling directions appears.
“Write an email”
Trying to work a keyboard on a device strapped to your wrist isn’t the easiest method of communication you’re ever going to come across, so if you need to send a message from Android Wear then it’s best to use your voice. You’ll be asked which of your contacts you want to send a message to, then you can dictate the message itself (via Gmail of course).
Like the search engine on the Web, yoursmartwatch can tap into Google’s vast knowledge reserves to pull out information directly (with no need to browse through a list of results). Ask how old your favourite celebrity is and Android Wear will let you know instantly. You can also request heights, birthdays and other essential information that’s likely to be in the public domain.
my next appointment?”
One of the areas where Android Wear really proves
its worth is in letting you stay on top of your schedule, displaying calendar
cards as events approach. Say “what’s my next appointment?” to see what’s coming up in the near
future. You can also use the voice command “agenda” to see a list of
imminent events and appointments.
You’re stuck in traffic and you need to let
someone know: use the “text” command followed by the person’s name to
fire off an SMS message via your phone. You’ll be prompted to dictate the text
using your voice too. If Android Wear is confused about which contact you’re
referring to then it displays a choice of options to pick from.
Another one that takes advantage of Google’s
powerful search capabilities: ask “when is sunset?” or indeed
“when is sunrise?” to see the times appear right on the Android Wear
watch face. Handy if you want to know what time you need to be home for or when
you’re going to have to get up.
Android Wear makes it possible to set an alarm
for the morning without touching your phone. Say “set an alarm
for…” followed by a time and you’ll be shown a confirmation screen
confirming the action. Use the Android Wear app on your phone if you want to use
a different alarm app to the Android Clock.
Your phone might be on the other side of the room
or stuffed in a coat pocket but you can still get the tunes started with a
simple “play music” command. For the time being Google’s own Play
Music app is the only one you can utilise (it will pick up from where you last
left off) but support for other players should be arriving soon.
Right now there aren’t many tasks that your
Android Wear watch can do without a phone, but launching a simple stopwatch on
your wrist is one of them. Tell your gadget to “start stopwatch” and
up pops a simple interface for recording your next lap time. The actual
starting and stopping is done with a tap of the finger.
Location-based tasks are where Android Wear
really can shine, so if you’re out and about and what to get to the nearest
pub, restaurant, bank, museum or park just ask “what’s the
nearest…” followed by the type of location. You’ll be presented with a
shortlist and you can then launch turn-by-turn navigation directions to your