Most WearOS apps can be installed from the Google Play Store and this is the preferred method of installation. However some legacy and/or open source WearOS apps aren’t available in the Play Store. In these cases, Wear Installer 2 can help by transferring the watch component from your Android phone and installing it using something called the Android Debug Bridge, or ADB for short. Wear Installer 2 can also sideload apk files from your phone to your watch.
You can install Wear Installer 2 on your Android phone by following this link. You don’t need to install the app on your watch (earlier versions of WI2 had a wear app, this is no longer required).
Important: please read for watches running WearOS 4 / One UI 5
There are now extra steps required to use ADB debugging with watches running WearOS 4. Here is a YouTube video showing the new ADB pairing process, please follow the steps exactly as shown in the video. For those who prefer the steps in written form, please see below:
Step 1: make yourself a developer on your watch. For Samsung watches, go to Settings > About watch > Software information > Software version and tap until you see a message that developer options are enabled. For other watches, go to Settings > System > About > Versions > Build number and tap until you see a message that developer options are enabled.
Step 2: in Developer options, turn on ADB debugging and then turn on Wireless debugging. You may see a message ‘waiting to connect to wifi’. If so, wait a few seconds and try again. Once connected to wifi you’ll see an ip address appear, probably something like 192.168.1.7 (your ip address will be different).
Step 3: open Wear Installer 2 on your Android phone and put the ip address from the previous step into the box provided on WI2’s home screen and then tap the Done button. Make sure to do this before proceeding to Step 4. If you have previously been through the ADB pairing process, so that your Android phone is shown as a paired device under Wireless debugging on your watch, you can just enter the random port in the box provided on WI2’s home screen. Otherwise proceed to Step 4.
Step 4: select ‘Pair with watch’ from WI2’s main menu and then tap the Enable button. On your watch, select ‘Pair new device’. You’ll see a pairing code and a pairing port shown on the watch (the pairing code will have 6 digits, the pairing port will have 5 digits). Enter the pairing code, then a space, then the pairing port into the dialog shown in Wear Installer 2, then tap ‘Done’. After a brief pause, you should see a ‘Pairing successful’ message. If not, restart your phone and your watch and start again.
Step 5: your watch will display a new random 5 digit port after the ip address. Enter this port in the box provided on WI2’s home screen, after the ip address. Note: this random port is different from the one in step 4.
Step 6: now you can select an app from WI2’s app carousel, or you can select ‘Custom APK’ to choose an apk that you have previously downloaded to your phone’s Download folder. You will see an ‘Install’ button, tap on this button to install the app or apk file from your phone to your watch.
Step 7: don’t forget to turn off Wireless debugging and ADB debugging on your watch when you are finished.
Wear Installer 2 features
To see examples of how to use Wear Installer 2 please see this YouTube video. Note: the connection process has now been superceded as explained above, but you can see some of the features of the WI2 app in this video.
If you are having problems getting Wear Installer 2 working, please see below:
General best practice: if you are having problems, restart both your phone and your watch. Check that Wifi and Bluetooth are enabled on both your phone and your watch. Check that the WearOS app on your phone (or the Galaxy Wearable app if using a Galaxy Watch 4) is showing that your watch is connected to your phone. On your watch, check that you have enabled ‘ADB debugging’ and ‘Wireless debugging’ (‘Debug over wifi’ for older watches running WearOS 2) in the developer settings, as shown in the video. Check that you have entered the correct ip address for the watch into the Wear Installer 2 phone app.
Wear Installer 2 phone app says ‘Watch APK not found’ or similar: this message means that the phone app you are trying to install to your watch has not been built by the developer to include a watch component. You may be able to install the phone apk to your watch, but keep in mind that there may be issues with the display because of the small screen size.
Wear Installer 2 shows ‘could not connect to watch’: this message means that the phone and watch have been unable to connect over wifi. Re-check that you have correctly followed the instructions above. Check that your phone has wifi turned on (the watch’s wifi will have been turned on when you set ADB debugging). Check that both phone and watch are reasonably close to your wifi router – note that the watch has a small aerial so it cannot connect to wifi over longer distances.
‘Connection failed’ message persists despite above checks: it can happen that your phone connects to a 5Ghz wifi network while your watch connects to a 2.4Ghz network. With most wifi routers this is not a problem, and Wear Installer 2 can still make a wifi connection between phone and watch. However some people have reported that temporarily turning off the 5Ghz band on their router forces phone and watch to connect to the 2.4Ghz network – and this resolves the ‘connection failed’ message that Wear Installer 2 reports.