I’ve recently released version 7 of Wearable Widgets, which includes a feature I’ve been working on (and testing) for some time: the capability to display phone widgets as complications on Wear OS watch faces.
This was an idea that occurred to me at I/O 2016, when Google first announced watch face complications. Complications are really just widgets by another name, and since I’d already been in the business of bringing widgets to watches for a couple of years, it seemed a natural next step. And now, it’s finally ready.
What’s all this then?
If this all makes sense to you, go ahead and skip on to the next section. But if you’re sitting there, scratching your head and thinking what the $#!+ is all this, let me try to explain:
- Start with widgets: a feature of Android phones that lets you add information and controls from various apps directly onto your home screen.
- My flagship app, Wearable Widgets, brings those widgets from your phone to any supported smartwatch.
- Separately, Google’s Wear smartwatch platform includes support for watch face complications: a way to customize a watch face with information and controls from other apps on your watch. Kind of like widgets, see?
- And now, I’ve brought the ability to place phone widgets directly onto any watch face that supports the small-image complication type.
Does that help?
On most watch faces, complications are tiny, so many phone widgets don’t work overly well. But some really do… Here are a double-handful of widgets that I’ve found to be especially useful as I’ve been dogfooding this feature for the last couple of months.
Disclaimer: I have no connection with any of the below apps, and am not responsible for them in any way. If you’re the developer of one of these and would like it removed from this list, drop me a line and let me know.
I’ll start things off with a basic one: turning your phone’s wifi on and off from your watch. I use this one frequently, saving my phone battery when I’m out and about, then reconnecting when I get home. As a bonus, this widget has multiple colors to show your phone’s wifi state on your watch face.
While we’re on the subject of network connectivity, here’s a little widget to let you know how strong the signal getting to your phone is. It has options to show either wifi or cellular signal, and I’ve found the latter useful in areas of marginal coverage.
Another network-related widget – we’ll move on in a moment, I promise – this one simply turns your phone’s bluetooth radio on and off. I use it to turn off BT before going out on my bike, so that Google Fit will use my watch’s GPS, then turn it back on after I return.
Silent Mode Toggle
Another remote-control for your phone: cycle it through silent, vibrate, and normal ringer modes with a tap on your watch face. Not one I use every day, personally, but I could certainly see situations when I would.
So, it also turns out that with a widget in a complication, you can control more than just your phone from your watch face. This widget enables you to set up actions to control linked smart home devices. I haven’t tried it myself (my home doesn’t lend itself to that sort of automation), but I know of WW users who rely on it.
And for the ultimate in flexibility, add a Tasker widget to your watch face. If you’ve ever used Tasker, you know that just about anything goes – and now it can go straight from your watch face.
Moving on from actions for a bit, how’d you like to see your phone battery charge level on your watch face? This is another one that’s found a permanent home on my own wrist; as my Pixel XL battery is aging, its battery needs closer monitoring, and this is just the ticket.
If your phone has a pressure sensor (and many flagships do, these days) you can add a barometer to your watch face. Great for an old-school weather geek like myself! Also, as an alternative to the previous item, note that the same dev has a battery widget.
Finally, a bit of fun, and one of my all-time favorite widgets in any context: tap a complication on your watch and get the classic, corny, wah-wah-wah-waaaah trombone sound effect. Indispensable if you (or someone you know) thrive on bad jokes. The same dev, Colin O’Dell has other sound effect widgets too, including the good ol’ ba-DUM-tsshhh rimshot – a close runner-up in my book.
Of course, you’re not limited to the above list; you can use any widget that’s 2×2 cells or smaller. Got a widget you’d like to put on your own watch face? Install Wearable Widgets, give it a try, then tell us all about it in the comments below!