Android ar is primarily a notification platform. en an alert comes to your phone it’s replicated to the watch; the idea being that you don’t have to constantly reach for your phone every time it buzzes.
But a few apps have gone further than just pinging you with alerts by putting some actual utility on your wrist. You can tip that Starbucks barista, share a photo, or turn your watch into a calculator. ile your patience for maneuvering a small screen may vary for some of these tasks, it’s worth exploring how some developers are pushing the Android ar platform forward.
ave a tip with the Starbucks app
The Starbucks Android app lets you leave a tip for your barista even after you walk out of the coffee shop with your latte.
It resides as a notification on your Android ar watch for a while after your transaction, so if that particular barista really nailed your drink you can tip them an extra dollar or two.
To make this happen, make sure you pay for your order with the Starbucks Android app. Then look for the notification that lets you add up to $2 for a tip on your watch. st touch the amount you want you’ll make someone’s day.
Turn your watch into a calculator
The Calculator for Android ar app is pretty much what it describes: a simple calculator for the small screen. It’s surprisingly powerful, as it also can do logarithmic, trigonometric, other advanced calculations.
tch apps really only make sense if they can do something quickly more easily than reaching into your pocket or purse for your phone. Even though the buttons are small, I didn’t have any problem hitting them, even on the G tch’s rather paltry screen.
The default view matches well with Material Design, though there’s a more retro option if that’s to your liking.
View, share, delete your photos with MyRoll Gallery
The MyRoll Gallery app is an excellent replacement for the stock + otos app if you’re looking for something minimalist that does some automatic grouping of photos. But here we’re focused on its Android ar capabilities, which include putting images on your watch enabling you to share them with others.
en testing I found it had two folders: camera screenshots. In the former, the watch app only listed the 15 most recent images from my camera. After you touch the name of a folder you can swipe through the images. You’re then able to delete it, share to Facebook, set it as your wallpaper, or open on your phone to share it with the Android menu.
Experiment with typing on the small screen
st the idea of typing on a watch may be enough to make your fingers hurt. But that isn’t keeping Minuum from trying to make it happen.
Don’t get any crazy ideas about responding to text messages just yet. This is straight from the developers in an email introducing you to Minuum on Android ar: “It’s important to note that Minuum for Android ar isn’t yet a very useful product, as there aren’t any text fields in Android ar apps – this A is purely for testing purposes…”
So think of it as a proof of concept, showing what typing on a watch face could look like. It’s actually not bad—Minuum obviously relies heavily on predictive text, grouping letters together then suggesting words once you’ve hit a few characters.
To get Minuum on your watch, however, you’ll need to know how to use adb comms sideload an apk on your watch. If you’ve done this on your phone it’s a similar process; Minuum will email you with detailed instructions when you sign up for access.
If that sounds too intimidating then you’ll probably want to skip this one. It’s worth keeping an eye on, however, to see if some form of text input comes to Android ar.
Surf the web from your watch
The ar Internet Browser shrinks down web browsing to the watch face. As you can imagine, it’s not exactly an ideal method for going online. However, just as with Minuum I was surprised that some functions worked rather well.
Its best innovation is the keyboard: it slides to the right left leaves enough place to hit the keys. It’s ideal for when you want to type out a specific word don’t want autocorrect to jumble up what you’re trying to enter.
The browser gives you a list of suggested bookmarks a button for performing a search. The bookmarked sites were actually readable. th the BBC, for example, you could reasonably scroll through the site read specific news articles. Other sites are definitely hit miss. was difficult to navigate, even though the site is fully responsive for mobile browsing, but that was intended for smartphones tablets, not watches.
ar Internet Browser is free if you want to give it a go, but you’re locked to the preprogrammed bookmarks. Unlocking the full functionality is $3, also gets you an Android phone app for customizing your own favorite sites to visit.
The bottom line is it’s neat to tinker with, but don’t expect to rely on it for any serious type of web browsing.
at will they think of next?
ile some of the apps in this roundup are more useful than others, it gives us a peek at the type of functionality that may come down the road as the Android ar ecosystem matures. Developers are still trying to find that sweet spot between freeing you from being tied to your phone without cramming too many capabilities that don’t make sense.