A poll last weekend on the Android Wear Google+ community asked the following question: “How many apps do you have installed on your watch?” Nearly 700 members responded, and the results took me a bit by surprise.

The headline result was that 77% of respondents—more than 3 out of every 4—have fewer than ten apps installed on their watches. Additionally, the next tier—between ten and twenty apps—contained another 14% of the total, meaning that over 90% of respondents have fewer than 20 apps installed.

In reality, app usage in the Android Wear ecosystem as a whole is probably even lower. This poll was taken among members of an Android Wear community, remember: these are folks who have self-selected as Wear enthusiasts, at least to some degree…

Why so few?

When the results started coming in, I was surprised by how low they were, so I asked for comments from respondents: Why so few apps installed? The top reply: “That’s all that I really use.”

A few commenters mentioned concerns about battery life, that using more apps drained their battery faster. Given that battery life is still a big concern on many Wear watches—especially the top seller, the Moto 360—this is hardly surprising.

Still, at a time when most Android users have about a hundred apps on their phones, this explanation seems like a red herring. If you’re like me, many of those phone apps aren’t ones you use daily, but do find handy on a more occasional basis. And in order to use them at all, they need to be installed, of course.

Which implies that there just aren’t that many useful Wear apps to install in the first place—a sentiment echoed by some other poll commenters. And this highlights another major issue with Android Wear: a continuing lack of good, compelling apps.

And this means that there are still big opportunities here for app developers; big gaps remain in the ecosystem, with a user base that’s still quite early in its growth phase.

Hope for the apps

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention one other, related shortcoming in Android Wear as it stands today: even when you have apps installed, it’s difficult to launch them. However, Google is on the case here; the forthcoming 5.1 release of Android Wear includes a much more accessible app launcher. In a few weeks, all your apps will be just a single tap away from the watch face.

And lest we forget, there are already a few people using the platform to full advantage. As seen in the graph above, the number of votes in each tier continues to taper off – until the very last group, where it suddenly increases again. These are the real enthusiasts, the power users, those who are making the most of their smartwatches: 3% of respondents reported having 40 or more apps installed.

What about you? How many apps do you have on your watch, and why? Let’s see how the 9to5Google community differs, if at all.

About the Author