Android Wear has only been out for a few weeks, but already developers are trying their hands at designing apps for Google's wearable platform. Since this is a new usage paradigm for Android, it's hard to know what sort of user experiences will catch on and which will fall flat. This is the first installment of what will hopefully become a regular part of our roundups – all the best apps and watch faces for Android Wear.
A large media organization isn't worth its weight in salt if it doesn't have a dedicated news branch, so it should come as little surprise that the BBC has a sports app and that said app does occasionally get updates. Now that mobile piece of software has received Chromecast support, just in time for the 2014 Commonwealth Games* in Glasgow.
The Chromecast support lets users stream live video straight to their TVs.
Music Boss was one of the apps Pebble users have found rather indispensible, and now there's a version for Android Wear. This is essentially an alternative way to control all your media apps (not just music) with swipe gestures and a prettier info screen. It's still not an ideal solution, but maybe you'll overlook its foibles.
There are a lot of goodies in the newest version of Google Maps, which just started rolling out to devices last week. However, some users are getting a bonus that didn't show up in the changelog. We've been able to get a few confirmations of a new Explore Nearby tool in Maps that offers much more fine-grained control of location-based suggestions.
So, a tiny little screen thing that's kind of like a phone but not a phone and is also strapped to your arm screams for a few very specific uses, and one of them is a remote control for your phone's camera. We've already seen at least one Android Wear camera remote, but that one was more of a proof of concept than a full-fledged tool. PixtoCam takes the basic idea that's been around for longer than mobile phones and adds some notable improvements.
I must confess to a near-total ignorance in all things Minecraft. My basic understanding is that you punch trees, dig, run from exploding zombies, and out of that somehow comes a full-scale digital model of the starship Enterprise or the entire country of Denmark. But I do know that "crafting" is a big part of all that, and in order to effectively craft, you need to know what to start with and what tools to use.
Remember those awesome mini-drones that Parrot showed off at CES way back in January? It looks like the Rolling Spider and Jumping Sumo are on sale now, at Brookstone and the Apple Store at least, for $100 and $160 respectively. And if you bought the drone, you'll want something to control it with. Enter the FreeFlight 3 app, made specifically for controlling Parrot's new toys. It's a free download, though you'll need an Android 4.0 device to install it.
Yesterday’s update to Google Maps was certainly no slouch for new features; it came packing some great improvements for cyclists, new voice commands during navigation, and a few other interface tweaks. In addition to these public changes, there are also two brand new features buried within the code which are not active yet, but they may point to some exciting stuff on the horizon.
"I Am Here"
Google Maps is pretty good at figuring out where we've gone; between GPS, Wi-Fi, and even things like BLE-based iBeacons, it's possible to pinpoint our locations just about everywhere, even inside of buildings.
LevelUp lets customers pay using their mobile phones at thousands of businesses across the country. The company's app simply opens up a barcode that, once scanned, handles the transaction. To make things even easier for users, an update is rolling out that adds support for Android Wear. So instead of scanning their phones, Wear device owners can have establishments scan their wrists instead.
The Wear app can shoot out a notification when wearers enter a place where they frequently pay with LevelUp, and, with a swipe and a tap, lets users open up the payment screen.