Just bought a Google Pixel Watch or Pixel Watch 2? Even if it’s not your first time owning a smartwatch, Google’s stock Wear OS experience may differ from what you’re used to — especially a Samsung Galaxy watch. Here’s how to get the most out of it.
Launch Google Play from the Pixel Watch app to discover Wear OS apps
One of the main benefits of getting a full-featured Wear OS watch, rather than a more limited option or a fitness tracker, is the ability to install additional apps. But the Play Store doesn’t have an obvious watch section, and searching for “Wear OS” isn’t very useful.
Solution? Open the Play Store from the Google Pixel Watch app on your phone. This will bring up a list of Android apps that are compatible with your Pixel Watch. You can find the shortcut by scrolling down on the main page of the Pixel Watch app and selecting “Play Store”.
Change the color of your Pixel watch faces
Changing a watch face gives you the ability to change your style without having to take off what’s on your wrist. The process is pretty much the same on the Pixel Watch as changing the watch face on a Samsung Galaxy Watch, but you’re not limited to just swapping out one watch face for another. Each of the built-in faces comes with many colors. Some offer as few as four, while others let you choose from most of the spectrum.
To change the color of your watch face, hold down the watch face until the screen zooms out and a pencil icon appears at the bottom. Swipe left or right to select a watch face, then tap the stylus. Turn the crown on the side of your watch to change color.
When you’re done, click down on the crown. But if you want to see more options at once, you can open the Pixel Watch app on your phone and tap “Watches.”
Add, remove, and reorder Pixel Watch tiles
Swipe left or right on the watch face and you can see screens that show other information. These screens are known as “Tiles” and you have complete control over which ones you see.
Replacing a washer goes through the same flow as replacing your watch face. Simply swipe left or right from the watch face to view a tile, such as the one showing the number of steps or the current weather.
Hold down the tile until it zooms out and a plus icon appears at the bottom. Press the left or right arrows to move a tile in either direction. The tile all the way to the right of the carousel will be the first you see when you swipe left from the watch face. The tile on the far left of the list is the first one you see when you swipe right.
Tap the plus icon to add new tiles to the carousel. Available tiles are displayed in a grid. Tap a tile to add it to the carousel. Swipe up on a tile to remove it from a carousel. Press the crown down when you’re done.
Alternatively, you can open the included app on your phone and look for “Tiles”.
Get instant access to timers
There are many useful tiles, but I’d like to give a shoutout to one in particular. It is the plate that offers you the easy possibility to set timers from your Pixel Watch. This box displays a number of preset times on the screen at the same time. A single tap starts the timer, which you can also turn off with a single tap when it goes off.
The tile shows your last five timers, so if you regularly drink one type of tea for three minutes and another for seven, your Pixel Watch is there to help you stop overdoing both. Or you can bring meditation sessions without having to look for your phone beforehand. Maybe switch between 25-minute and 5-minute timers to use the Pomodoro method without messing around with a separate app. The use cases go on and on.
Use your watch as a flashlight
The best camera is the one you have with you. The same goes for flashlights. Usually this is your phone, but if you’re in the dark without your phone handy or you’ve been convinced not to use your phone as a flashlight, turn to your watch instead.
This feature is built in, but hidden away as a dedicated app.
Press the crown to open the app list. Turn the crown until you see “Flashlight”. When you press it, the screen will start to glow white. Tap the screen to switch from white to red. Press again to turn off the light.
Press the crown to stop using the flashlight.
Use your watch to find your phone
Here’s another useful item buried in your app list. If you often take your phone away, your watch can help you find it. You don’t need to sign in to a Google account and enable any type of location tracking to do so. It’s also a decent alternative in the absence of a Find My Device tracker, although it doesn’t cover distances beyond your Bluetooth connection.
The steps are the same as activating the flashlight, except you look for “Find my phone” instead. After opening the app, your phone will start ringing. You can stop your phone from ringing by pressing the “X” button on the screen.
Add Google Wallet cards to your Pixel Watch
I’ve tapped my Pixel Watch against payment terminals several times only to find the transaction failed. It turns out you have to manually add Google Wallet cards to the watch before you can use them. You cannot do this in the Google Wallet app. Here’s what to do instead.
Open the Watch app on your phone. Navigate to Google > Google Wallet. Tap “+ Add to Watch” at the bottom right.
Track your steps with a watch face or a tray
If you’ve bought a Pixel Watch, there’s basically zero chance you plan to wear a separate Fitbit at the same time. Like any modern smartwatch, the Pixel Watch can track your steps (in addition to tracking your sleep), and it features a couple of different ways to make this information visible.
Most of the Pixel Watch’s watch faces have the ability to show your steps, but not all show this information by default. Some show your heart rate, the date, the outside temperature or some other useful information. This section of extra information is called a “complication” and you can change it from the Pixel Watch app.
To add steps to your current watch face, open the Pixel Watch app on your phone.
Go to Watch Faces > Edit and scroll down to the “Complications” section. Here you will find up to four places, depending on the watch face, where you can add your steps. When you are done, press “Save”.
If you are adding a new watch face, the steps are slightly different. Open the Pixel Watch app on your phone. Go to Clock Faces > Add New and select the desired clock face. Scroll down to “Complications” and add step to desired location. When you’re done, tap “Add.”
If your preferred watch face doesn’t track steps, you can use the step tracking pad instead. Swipe left or right from your watch face, and if the step tracking tile doesn’t appear by default, follow the previous steps to add a new tile, and you should see it as an option.
The Pixel Watch might not be the best Android smartwatch for everyone, but unlike Samsung’s watches, you can access the full set of features no matter what phone you own. Plus, after the launch of the Pixel Watch 2, the original version isn’t as expensive as it once was. You no longer have to spend over $300 to enjoy what the Pixel Watch can do.
Google Pixel Watch 2
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Google’s Pixel Watch 2 has a sleek design with a 41mm round screen, multiple health and wellness sensors, fall detection and all-day battery life. Get the best of Google and Fitbit on your wrist.
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