Android Wear smartwatches are the new kids on the block that are getting a lot of attention these days. At I/O 2014 Google officially confirmed that the LG G Watch and the Samsung Gear Live are the first two wearable devices based on its new platform. The devices are now out and developers have taken to creating apps that fill some gaps that have been left in the OS. A new app called Swipify adds a gesture based recent apps menu to Android Wear smartwatches. One of the very first Android Wear apps that impressed us was the Wear Launcher. It added a launcher in the traditional Android sense to the smartwatches, making it much easier for users to fire up apps on their smartwatch. And now there‚Äôs even a web browser for Android Wear, though its not exactly easy to browse the internet on a tiny display.
Think of smartwatches now like smartphones were around 2008 – despite the fact that the idea has been around for a long time, everyone is still trying to figure out the best way to go about it. In Android Wear, Google is trying to make a super-simple interface based on short swipes, taps, and voice commands… which leaves a lot of users craving more conventional tools. So we’ve got alauncher, a web browser, a file explorer (ugh) and now a substitute for the Recent Apps menu in Android OS. Swipify allows you to swipe in from the right side of the screen to see a radial list of your recently-used apps, along with a readout of your available RAM. (That’s the RAM on your watch, not your phone.) Users change apps simply by swiping over to the icon and lifting a finger, not unlike my personal favorite Android tool, SwipePad. The display shows the last six Wear apps used, which should be plenty for the typical user. There is one major usability issue. Wear’s standard interface relies on right-swipes to get to the more detailed sections of apps. Activating Swipify instead of, say, moving to the “forward” screen in the music controller can get tricky. Swipify also includes a launcher similar to Wear Mini Launcher, accessible via a swipe from the left edge. This is handy… except that I’ve only got a handful of apps that I use frequently, and they’re always in the standard Recents view. The only truly useful thing you can do here is manually adjust screen brightness.