The smartwatches are here! Pre-orders of the first Android Wear watches from LG and Samsung ship today. But what can you do with your new toy when it actually shows up? You can get notifications on your wrist(!) sure, but there's more where that came from. Here are some of the highlights.
In addition to the built-in notification functionality—which is pretty great in and of itself—the first Wear-compatible apps are here as well, and between them, your wrist can gain a whole bunch of superpowers from ranging from "awesome" to "stupid but still kind of awesome." And all you have to do is have the app on your phone, no wrist-installation required.
1. Control your music even with dumb headphones.
Some headphones have buttons on them so you can pause your hawt dubstep jams when a human attempts to talk to you. Some don't. With Android Wear it doesn't matter; every music/podcast/audiobook/radio app that can generate an actionable notification on your phone can do it on your wrist. Instant pause button.
2. Turn off the lights.
If you happen to have a houseful of Philips Hue lights—or even just one—they just got a new switch on your wrist. You can use the card the app will generate to turn your lights on and off, or you can dig deeper into the on-watch app itself to toy with the colour and other settings.
3. Board a plane.
If you just happen to be taking a trip by way of Delta Airlines in the near future, you'll find you have a handy new way to show your boarding pass. With the new Android Wear functionality, the Delta Airlines app can push your boarding pass info to your wrist-screen in the form of a big, ugly QR code. Explaining to the gate attendant that "No but really. This is my boarding pass" is up to you though.
4. Hit on strangers.
Tinder is on a watch! It's pretty much... just Tinder on a watch. Swipe away, and rest assured know one will know how geeky you are until you actually meet up. "So where did you guys meet?" "Oh, you know. A dating app on my smartwatch."
5. Have a singalong.
musiXmatch Music Player, which plays music from your library while throwing the lyrics on your phone screen, now works on watches as well. Karaoke just got even goofier.
With a new app called Bunting, tweeting is as easy as just shouting at your wrist. Finally you can annoy the people around you as much as you do your followers.
7. Brush up on your language skills.
You might not be able to learn a second language on your watch, but with Duolingo you can at least brush up on it. With Android Wear functionality, the language app can give you little flashcard quizzes on your second language of choice right from your wrist.
8. Get notifications when stuff you like is nearby.
Someday Android Wear might be able to notify you when there are points of interest nearby on its own. But until then, Pinterest will pick up the slack. Thanks to Android Wear the app will now point out if you're in the neighbourhood of places you've pinned.
9. Set up a "Do Anything" button.
Maybe the most powerful trick Android Wear has so far is thanks to If This Than That. With the app's new watch-based functionality, you can program a watch button that does just about anything. So far, popular recipes include uploading a map of your location to Facebook and jerry-rigging a "Find My Phone" feature, but the possibilities are limited only by your imagination.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. The stable of apps that are actively supporting Android Wear is actually pretty limited right now, so it'll only get better down the line. In the meantime, get tinkering and see what handy functionality you can scare up, and if we missed anything good, drop it below.