Sunday, May 24, 2015

My favorite Android Wear watch faces for the LG G Watch R and Watch Urbane

A quick search of the Play Store reveals a seemingly endless list of custom watch faces for Android Wear. There are analog ones, digital ones, classic ones, and bright colorful ones. But no matter how flashy or nice they look, they are not all created equal, especially when it comes to the G Watch R and Watch Urbane. The two round LG watches both use an AMOLED screen and have an ambient mode that leaves the display on and lit up 24/7.

With a bright, beautiful screen, it's disappointing to find watch faces that don't take advantage of it. So many of the nicest ones only look good when the screen is active and fade to a dull, boring mode when it goes to sleep, almost as if ambient mode were an afterthought. That's fine for watches like the Moto 360 where the screen insists on turning off when not in use, but for the G Watch R and Watch Urbane, the ambient mode is just as important as the active mode.

So, with that in mind, here are my favorite watch faces for the LG G Watch R or Watch Urbane:

Classy Watch Face - $0.99
A traditional looking watch face with a true black background. It displays the date and digital time, along with three custom text lines for you to type whatever you want. Ambient mode displays the entire watch face without the second hand. Downside: It forgets the custom text after changing to a different face, and you have to send it again.

Chromatic Watch Face - $1.25
A bright, colorful, and well designed face that has a nifty flip animation when you wake the screen. It displays the day, date, and current battery levels for watch and phone. Ambient mode has three options: full face minus seconds, full numbers minus dotted ring, or simple black and white outline of the numbers. Downside: It doesn't show battery levels in ambient mode, only active.

Krona Sunlight - $1.69
If you're looking for a weather watch face, this is the best and most accurate I've found. It shows tons of information while still having a minimal look. The yellow/blue ring shows temperature (thicker=hotter), while the smaller blue lines around the outside show rain chances. Downside: Ambient mode only shows the rain chance ring, not temperature.

V05 Watch Face - $1.14
A digital watch face with a LOT of information. It looks like a military style digital watch and displays time, date, wind speed, current temperature, weather conditions, phone battery, watch battery, and humidity all in a very nicely designed round face. Ambient mode displays the entire face minus the digital seconds. Downside: weather info isn't always perfectly accurate and is often a few degrees off.

Casual Watch Face - $0.99
A minimal, classic analog face with extra information and a cool wake-up animation. It is almost entirely black with classic analog hands while also displaying the digital time, watch battery level, day and date, and current weather conditions and temperature. In active mode, it has a colored second hand ring that can be set to any color. Downside: Ambient mode is black and white only, no color options.

Zodiac Watch Face - $1.49
One of my favorites. It's an extremely customizable face that lets you design pretty much every option however you want. Everything can be moved around, turned on/off, colors changed, etc. It's extremely versatile. You can even change specific colors for ambient mode and active mode. Downside: None.

Minimal & Elegant - $0.99
This is one of the most popular watch faces on the Play Store, so it hardly needs introduction've probably already heard of it. It's made by the same developer as Zodiac, and offers the same level of crazy customization, including custom text for displaying whatever info you want. Add that to color gradient backgrounds, Little Worlds, etc. and you have one of the best watch faces available. Downside: None.

Slick Watch Face - Free
Last but not least, we have this little known collection of watch faces. From the included phone app, you can select from a number of different faces, most centered around displaying the weather in a cute, minimal way. Most of the included faces are free, but two require a 99 cent in-app purchase. Ambient mode for all of the included faces is a simple black and white outline, which is a bit of a bummer. Downside: Weather info isn't always correct.

What's your favorite watch face for the round LG watches? Let me know in the comments!

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