If there is one thing that I like the most about Android Wear watches, it has to be their ability to swap watch faces. Unlike most other smartwatch based operating systems that prevent you from making custom watch faces, or require you to have some serious coding ability, Android Wear has some enabled workarounds and I love them!
If you’ve ever considered installing your very own custom watch face that nobody else has, read on because I’m going to show you how to install it on your device.
If you’re an iPhone user don’t go, Android Wear is compatible with the iPhone so you can make use of this tutorial to! However, you would have to consider getting an Android Wear Watch first. At this point you may be thinking “But, Android Wear does a lot less with iOS” and you would be correct. However, I’ve discovered that Android Wear provides a much better wearable experience than the Apple Watch (seriously, I’m no fan boy) and it works better and stays paired to my phone for much longer.
But apart from OS preferences Android Wear is the only Watch OS that has simple options for making and installing custom watch faces. In a recent article Gizmodo talked about a few different ones that Android users can use easily, but in this article I am going to share with you a process for which even an iPhone user can do!
How to Sideload Watches Faces in Android Wear
Adding a custom watch face or in fact any other APK file to your Android Wear Watch, is called sideloading and you can do this with any APK you can get your hands-on. If you already have a custom Watch face, all you need to do is follow a few simple steps, and have a computer ready. Otherwise you should follow all the steps below, word for word.
1. The first things you will need to do is download and install the Android Developer Tools, this can be done with a Windows, Linux or OS X based PC. From the tools provided, you will only really need the adb command line tool, but this is the fastest way to get everything working properly so that your watch and computer can talk to each other correctly.
There is a harder way, which means installing less. Download the adb file and the Google USB drivers. At this point you will also need to download drivers for your Watch, but I can’t help you with that.
2. So, next you will have to go to your watch and enable developer mode, this is done in the same way as you would on your Android smartphone. Open settings, find the about section, and then tap the build number until your watch informs you that you’re a developer.
3. Head back to the settings menu, and go to the now accessible developer options and enable ADB Debugging. (Sideloading happens over USB, so it is fine if you want to leave Bluetooth debugging disabled.)
4. Now take the watch face APK that you want to download and change it from .apk to .zip.
5. Next extract the zip file and look in to it for the actual APK file. It will be in /res/raw.
6. At this point you should connect your Android Wear watch to your computer via USB.
The six steps I’ve outlined above, will take you most of the way however, moving forward from here is where things can get a little tricky due to this being possible on different PC based platforms. So, what you will need to do next is pick your preferred platform from below to finish the process of sideloading.
If you’re using Linux, the instructions will be virtually the same as those for Mac OS. So, you could just follow those and replace “Macintosh HD” with the name of your boot disk and the terminal with the command line app.
How to install with Mac OS X
1. Open up the Terminal (in Macintosh HD ? Applications ? Utilities) and connect your Android Wear Watch to your computer via USB.
2. Type in the following command (do not press enter!): ./adb install.
3. Next after that command, insert the location of the APK that you want to sideload (you can type the path name or dragging the APK file into the window of the Terminal). The command should now be something to this: ./adb install /Macintosh\ HD/locationofapk/apk.apk.
4. When you’ve done that correctly, press enter and leave adb to do its job. The sideloading install process should only take around a minute. But, don’t be concerned if you do not get any feedback straight away. It can take time to let you know what’s going on.
How to Install with Windows
1. To start with, open the command prompt by typing cmd in search. To make sure it is working, type adb devices, this will make sure your computer can see the Android Wear watch. If all is good, you will likely see a serial number with your “device” next to it.
2. Now add in the following command (do not press enter!): adb install.
3. Once you’ve added that command, insert the address of the APK you are choosing to sideload (this can be done by typing the path or by dragging the APK file into the command prompt window). Now that you’ve done that the command should look like this: adb install C:\Users\BestUserEver\locationofapk\apk.apk.
4. Now that you’ve added all of the correct details, press enter and let adb do what it was designed to do. If you’re pushed for time, don’t worry this process should only take around a minute. But, don’t be concerned if you don’t see any feedback straightaway.
Now that you’re done, you may be concerned that the above is a lot of work, but it is really easy to do once you know how. So with the watch face installed on you Android Wear device, you can now go ahead and select it. You can do this by pressing and holding your watch face and wait for a selection screen to appear, or you could go to the Android Wear app and choose it there.
Once you’ve found it, you may have noticed that the app is displaying its name, but not a preview image. Don’t be concerned this is not an indication of a problem; it’s just the way it’s done.