11
Jul
g

Android Wear does a lot of things well right now, but launching apps by touch is not one of them. If you don't want to shout at your wrist, you have to scroll way to the bottom of the options list to see your installed mini-apps like Keep, Evernote, and IFTTT. Wear Mini Launcher makes it much, much easier by showing all your apps with a quick edge gesture.

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This is a first of its kind app, so there are a few weird things to consider going in. First, the gesture area is just the top left corner of the screen. So you swipe in from the edge and the scrollable app list should pop out. You have to be careful not to drag down at all, as that pulls the mute panel down. Starting your gesture too low can also grab your top card and swipe it away – it's best to go slow.

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Launching apps from Mini Launcher seems to work just like it does in the native app list, but it's much more convenient. We're seeing a number of reliability issues with this app on the Gear Live, so maybe wait if that's your watch of choice. It seems much better and more consistent on the G Watch, though. The dev is looking into the bugs, but this is great for a first effort. Hopefully more developers will get to work on similar ideas.

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    This is the #1 missing ingredient for me. Works amazingly well on the G Watch.

    Unfortunately, on the Gear Live, it's very unreliable and works maybe 20-30% of the time - the other times, the gesture just ends up dismissing, swiping down, or going to the watchface selector. The developer says he's on it, so I'm keeping the review at 5 stars.

    I'd love a setting to be able to swipe from the right or left side of the watch, and if possible, remove the icon from the list of apps.

    • Michael

      Does he plan on making this work on Moto 360? I don't see how you could define the top left corner of a round screen.

    • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

      Did you have to trigger anything to get it working the first time, or something? It's not working at ALL for me on my G Watch. Shows up in Start and everything, but no amount of swiping, with or without notifications, seems to work.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        Cody said the same happened to him for some reason. I think he got it to work by toggling it off and on in the app settings.

    • Nicolas POMEPUY

      I will try to answer to everybody ;)
      The Samsung Gear Live issue (which was my first priority) has been solved and an update is available.
      I will work on the bug where the app stops to work after a while, now.
      About your suggestions (different positions, ability to hide apps), it has been put in my TODO list.
      About the Moto 360, I think the positions will be restricted to the one that can be triggered. I have to admit that, for now, it's not my first concern. I will focus on it when it will be announced.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        o/

  • Dave

    I don't get why Google didn't put this into Wear by themselves.
    Swiping from right to left on the watch face or the solution this launcher uses wouldn't be that hard to implement I think.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Because reasons. Google is very opinionated. If they don't think we need it, they won't put it in, based on unknown logic of whoever is in charge.

      • Dave

        Yeah, we know that Google somehow is kinda opinionated :D
        But come on, no proper way to access apps?! That indeed is a very poor attempt!

        • Kaero

          The "proper" way to access apps is to shout at your wrist. :P

          • NinoBr0wn

            I'm shouting at my wrist right now, and the only thing happening is people on the train moving to another car. Maybe I'll try again when I get an android wear device.

          • michael

            you're a stupid nigger, aint ya boy?

          • NachoKingP

            You should just go ahead and follow Adam Richman's advice.

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      • Brady

        1. replace "Google" with "Apple"
        2. change subject from "Wear" and "watch", to "iOS" and "iAnything"
        3. now qft

        • Rovex

          Not entirely. Yes its true of Apple, but Google isn't immune. Some of the decisions they make are just plain idiotic. They seem to be made by someone that hasnt left Google headquarters (and therefore a brightly lit, Fibre broadband wifi enabled environment with a charging port within 10 ft) in 6 months. They often seem to forget that people actually go outside sometimes.

      • NachoKingP

        Yes, but when Google doesn't think you need it, it still lets developers make third-party apps (such as this one) to let you try it. If the feature gets popular enough, Google generally adds it to the main feature set. We've seen it time and again. Apple on the other hand will actively prevent you from doing what they don't think you need to do, unless you jailbreak their device, and will only add something popular when every other phone can do it already and they are looking outdated.

        • steve

          youre a stupid little fanboy, aint ya?

          • NachoKingP

            Okay, for one, who upvotes their own comment? That's pretty sad. Secondly, if you have something constructive to add to the conversation, that's perfectly fine, but you're just a pathetic little troll who doesn't realize that calling someone a "fanboy" is generally only done as a fall back by people that are fanboys themselves and can't think of anything intelligent to respond with. Go crawl back in your cave.

          • michael

            you mad.

          • NachoKingP

            LOL no! why would I get mad at some moron who doesn't have a clue what they're talking about? It's not worth my energy, there's more important things to get mad at. Also, nice ironic upvote of your own comment there. I see what you did there. ;-)

          • michael

            sheesh. get off the internet and attempt to be a good father... kids with downs need all the help they can get!

          • NachoKingP

            WTF are you even talking about?

          • michael

            YOU'RE A HORRIBLE FATHER AND HAVE A RETARD FOR A KID.

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            LOL, you're hilarious!

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            It's pretty good actually, but thanks for the compliment! I'll add "approved by an internet troll" to my resume.

          • michael

            no problem, bro! Take it sleazy!

          • NachoKingP

            Wow, you really are a pathetic little turd. You should grow up some time.

          • michael

            get back to work, man!

          • NachoKingP

            You keep having fun.

          • steve

            wow... what happened here?

          • NachoKingP

            This guy wrote some really awful things and then changed them after the fact, that's what.

          • NachoKingP

            FYI, changing your comments after the fact doesn't change the email notifications I get with your original comment.

    • black

      What's next, a tiny keyboard?

      It's not the way they want you to use the watch. You can do whatever, but they have a certain UX they want to offer.

    • money

      To get all apps don't you just have to tap the google now mic symbol and scroll down .. How hard is that Hahaha

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  • Walter Black

    Do you really need $300 dollar extension/accessory to your phone that just gives you notifications on your wrist and Google search. I love that feature but just that for 300 ? Nah

    • Walter Black

      When they lower the price. That's when I think it'll take off. No one NEEDS this. I have enough money to buy one BTW. This isn't me complaining because I'm broke

      • PhilNelwyn

        Oh, look! It's already lowered!
        It's $200 now.

      • Johnathan Rodriguez

        No one NEEDED the iPad, and it took off.

        Not saying this might sell as much, but when it comes to gadgets and gizmos, bringing up if it's a necessity is a little pointless.

        • Walter Black

          Honestly. I love android btw (HTC One m7 owner)... But I don't think smartwatches will take off until Apple introduces theirs. It always seems to go that way.. Most of my friends never even heard of a Moto 360 unfortunately

          • Johnathan Rodriguez

            Most likely because it hasn't hit the media. Only tech blogs.

          • Walter Black

            Yeah exactly

          • Johnathan Rodriguez

            So don't you think it's a little unfair to compare it to an Apple product in that sense?

          • Walter Black

            All I'm saying is it's a little expensive for a device that you doesn't offer features that really need. Not for 250 dollars at least. It's an accessory . the moto 360 is a looker though . I'll purchase if the price is right.. But it'll probably be around 250-300

          • Sundeep Vallabhajosyula

            How do you think Apple's device will be priced if thats the case? You believe that an Apple device will take off but not the Moto 360 because of the price? We should wait for the device to release and for the general population and widespread media to talk about it before making any judgements.

          • Walter Black

            No I think the apple device will take off because the modern population tends to purchase everything Apple. When you walk around town.. What phone do you see the most. People don't care about the technology as much as they do the Brand these days

          • Sundeep Vallabhajosyula

            I can definitely agree on that, whether or not the Moto 360 is a success will depend on how those same people perceive this device...I hope its a huge success though.. (I want one!)

          • Walter Black

            As do I my friend. AS DO I .

          • XerBlade

            When I walk around town, I mostly see Nexus 5s, Moto Xs, and Galaxy S4/5s (with that last entry being probably the most common) with the occasional old 4-series iPhone (hard to tell which one, because the 4 and 4S look kinda identical). But you and I obviously are in very different environments. Note the majority of these people are also carrying laptops.

            Although note I am still the only person I know or ever see who has a smartwatch of any kind (and it's a Pebble).

          • Walter Black

            Haha yeah we definitely live in different environments because I can't look out the window and exhale without seeing an iPhone

          • NachoKingP

            And for that reason alone you may not see the 360 take off. Most people DO seem to be walking around with iPhones, and Android Wear (obviously) won't support them. I personally can't wait for the Moto 360, day 1 purchase for me, but I fear the install base will hurt its chances.

      • http://www.scottcolbert.com/ ScottColbert

        No one NEEDS a smart phone either.

        • Walter Black

          We do need a form of communication though and that comes in the form of SMARTphones in this decade. Which prices are varied to fit whatever financial state you happen to be in. From free to $800

    • Roger Siegenthaler

      For the same reason I need a multiple thousand dollar watch.. that does nothing but tell me the time ;).

      If they're built with the correct amount of quality then they deserve that price tag. Also, the gear live at least has quite some fitness metric measuring stuff in it that makes it on-par with the fitbit/jawbone UP.

  • Johnathan Rodriguez

    This should be fun on the Moto 360.

  • Zimmerman

    Smart Watches are useless and extraneous so long as there unable to operate FULLY independent of an attached smartphone. I want to be able to send text and place calls with just a watch.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Useless to you.
      Once you start thinking about Android Wear watches as companions, suddenly they become quite useful.

      • Zimmerman

        Why do I need a companion screen with terrible battery life? I'd rather the option to leave my big Note 3 at home when I'm running short errands and use my smart watch (with voice, data, and text).

        • XerBlade

          Well, there's your problem then, right there. You're using a Note 3. Totally counter to the idea of portability from the start.

          • Zimmerman

            Haha nice aversion of my initial question there buddy. Your trolling days are limited!

          • XerBlade

            No, that question was already answered in other comments. More than once. You're just too bullheaded to see it.

            In that comment I was just pointing out one thing that hadn't yet: that if your problem is that your phone is too big to carry around on small errands, perhaps getting a gigantic phone wasn't thinking ahead very well. You are evading the real cause of your problem by trying to look for other random ways out.

            And the tactic of calling someone who doesn't go along with you a troll never works in the real world, you know....

    • Armando

      Yup, this video shows how useless they are http://goo.gl/b7iKBt

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        Awesome video, Armando. My only big issue with all these demos is how long it takes for voice recognition. It needs to be like 10x faster.

    • XerBlade

      Those already exist. They're just not smart watches. Smart watches and watch cell phones are different things. A smart watch is a smart phone accessory. That's just kinda the point of what they are and what their intended purpose is.

      • Zimmerman

        Ok but I said I wanted a Smart Watch that can do everything that a our current watches can do but independent of a smartphone. Samsung is making one now. Did you know that?

        • zimmerwho

          Where is your proof?

          • Zimmerman

            "Apple and Google don't even have one smartwatch yet, and Samsung's already working on its fifth.

            A report from the Wall Street Journal says that yet another Samsung smartwatch, one which would be fully uncoupled and stand-alone and act as a watch-phone with its own SIM card, is on its way as early as this summer. While details beyond that seem slim, odds are likely it'll build on the hardware and app feature set of the new Samsung Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo watches. Could it have a camera, then, and a heart rate monitor, and Tizen apps, and be water and dust-resistant? Seems like it would make sense.

            Then again, what makes sense in smartwatches these days? Wrist tech is embryonic at best, with no strong platform that's yet been established for software. Samsung did its own complete app reboot from the first Android-based Galaxy Gear to its new Tizen OS, resulting in a drop-off in some bigger-name apps like TripIt.

            There are a few stand-alone smartwatch-phones out there, like the Omate TrueSmart which I tried out last year. The biggest problem with watch-phones, among many, is figuring out a way to be productive on a small screen. It'll require apps and design that work, ideally, better than a smartphone, which sounds like a tall order.

            Android Wear, Google's wearable OS that could have watches in a mere few weeks, should be the first big step in software. Apple could eventually be another.

            Samsung's well on its way to establishing itself as the premier hardware manufacturer for smartwatches, just based on sheer numbers. Whether that brute force approach will work long-term remains to be seen."

            Source: http://www.cnet.com/news/new-samsung-standalone-smartwatch-phone-coming-this-summer/

        • XerBlade

          I'm saying your real problem is you've got the terminology wrong. You're talking about watch phones and saying that's what you want in a smart watch, apparently not realizing that they are both names for different concepts with different purposes.

          • Zimmerman

            I want a SmartWatch phone!

          • XerBlade

            And how hard is it for yours to comprehend that those already exist and they are not named smart watches, because the name "smart watch" describes something else already? Seriously, having to repeat myself 3 times because you can't even listen to the first sentence of each reply...

          • Zimmerman

            As I said in my original post (which you chose not to read), I want a SmartWatch phone so that I can use when I leave home to run short errands. Bluetooth compatibility would remove the need to talk to your risk, as you put it.

          • XerBlade

            I have directly addressed your original post repeatedly. You obviously haven't paid the slightest bit of attention to any of mine.

          • Zimmerman

            Ok, well let me put it this way. I want a SmartWatch phone with Android wear. Also, with the most recent hardware. Are finally on the same page?!

          • Zimmerman

            You're still not getting it man. I KNOW that watch phones already exist. Actually, SmartWatch phones already exist too. As I said in my original post, I've seen one here (within the US) made by a Chinese company and it was the same size as the Galaxy Gear 1. It was running Android. It had call, text, and data via SIM card. I want a better version of that, a SmartWatch phone, with Android Wear as the operating system.

          • primalxconvoy

            That would be a great smart watch!

          • primalxconvoy

            Except the tech media have already labeled and referred to both as smart watches. Just because you say something is so, does not mean it is.

          • primalxconvoy

            Nope. They are both smart watches. They do the same things to the lay person and that is to access apps www a phone.

            Case closed.

      • primalxconvoy

        Actually they are both smart watches

    • Droidfan

      Do you have any idea how big that sucker would be. To house the antenna and larger size battery to drive that crap....well basically were are talking about strapping an iPhone 4 to your wrist.

      • Zimmerman

        I bet you'll be taking your comment back in a year. Samsung is already developing one and it is the same as its other watches. And I've seen one made by a non-brand Chinese company about 5 years ago that was the same size as the Galaxy Gear. With the improvement of smaller and more efficient hardware, it wouldn't be hard to see Moto 360 fitted with this capability in a year.

    • primalxconvoy

      The problem now is price. One these puppies are 50-100 units of your currency, you watch the buggers fly.

      • Zimmerman

        Exactly! I think a lower price would compensate for the terrible battery life

    • Guest

      You CAN send texts and emails with Android Wear, were you not paying attention?

      • Zimmerman

        Via wifi?

    • NachoKingP

      Then get a Neptune Pine, it operates sans phone.

      • Zimmerman

        Eww that thing is ugly

        • NachoKingP

          Well now you're just being picky ;-)

          • Zimmerman

            Haha yes I am! I want a Moto 360 with built cellular! That's all I want. I want to alternate between my Note 3 and watch when I don't feel like carrying my note like on short runs to the store or other errands, you know?

  • ilovegoogle

    1st a phone then a tablet and now anroid wear google is really makeing me go broke 😔 i want everything they make

  • noel

    When will apple release L for the iPhone and iPad?? Anyone?? i been hiting the software update every day

    • Wtf

      Man I think you're lost. Or drunk. Whatever.

      • kekkojoker90

        or sarcastic

  • MRIANB

    Working flawlessly on my Gear Live. Great work and awesome app by developer.

    Ian B

  • DonEmu

    So which area would a person swipe once the round Moto 360 comes out? :/

  • mike

    Does this work with a Galaxy gear? It installed from the play store but I see nothing on the watch.

    • CoreRooted

      Android Wear devices only.

  • abobobilly

    Great idea, and great implementation.

    Though i wonder how will it look on a Round Display of Moto360.

  • Jon Wolff

    This is solid on the gear after today's update

  • Tom Harman

    This is why I love android, the things our devs can do. This made a nice touch to my G Watch.

  • http://UsamaMujtaba.com Usama Mujtaba

    I've been using a Galaxy Gear for 8 months now, its actually a great companion if people know how to use it, and we can clearly see the improvements with Gear 2. Same goes for Gear Live and G Watch on the Software edge. Google surely will bring up something better as it comes across the user reviews about the Android wear.