How to bring back some of Android Wear 2.0’s biggest missing features

3 min read

Android Wear 2.0 came with many improvements and a much-needed UI overhaul. Not all of the changes enhanced your smartwatch, with some changes actually making many watches worse. For example, do not disturb no longer syncs between the watch and your phone. With the majority of new Android watches sporting a cellular antenna and meant to be a standalone device, this change makes some sense. Personally, I don’t think watches are ready to be standalone devices and this removes an important function.

How to bring back Do Not Disturb Sync

For those of you who have a watch without a cellular connection or simply do not use the cellular connection on your smartwatch, this ingenious app, Do Not Disturb Sync for Wear, allows you to silence your watch and phone at the same time. It does not put my Samsung S8+ into DND but instead toggles silent mode. It’s not perfect, but it works.  I usually use this in situations where it won’t be on for an extended period time. Mostly when I’m in a meeting or at the movies, where I’m not worried about missing calls from priority contacts. For phones closer to stock Android it is supposed to toggle DND instead of silent, however.

The app also offers bidirectional support to put your watch in do not disturb when you toggle it on your phone. This requires a little more knowledge because it involves ADB commands, but it’s not too difficult. Again, this is a feature I could not get to work with my Samsung S8+ so your mileage may vary.

Adding Back the Sunlight or Theater Button Shortcut

My second biggest issue with Android Wear 2.0 is the lack of a shortcut for sunlight mode. Google focused so much on the LG Watch Sport and LG Watch Style which include an ambient light sensor, that they forgot about the majority of watches that do not have them. Thankfully another clever developer has tackled this problem.

Bubble Wear Launcher Watchface gives you the option to assign a different action to the long press of the crown. Fair warning, this will break the shortcut for Google Assistant. If you choose to purchase the premium version for $3.95 it will give the option to assign Assistant to the secondary double long press shortcut. If that is too expensive to add that one feature for you as it is for me, then remember Assistant can still be accessed by saying “OK Google” so long as the screen is lit up and it’s enabled in the settings.

Bubble Wear Launcher also includes a dim mode you can assign to mimic theater mode, another useful shortcut oddly removed in Android Wear 2.0. What’s even better is you don’t need to use the Bubble Cloud watch face in order to use these shortcuts. Even after you change the watch face, the shortcuts stay intact.

In an ideal world, Google would have made these changes in Android Wear 2.0 optional. Perhaps in future upgrades, they might even add them back. While you’re over there holding your breath waiting for that to happen, you can install these apps to serve as a workaround and bring back much-needed functionality to your Android Wear smartwatch.