How to use Google Maps on Wear OS smartwatches

AndroidPIT huawei watch 2 3508
© NextPit

It’s easy to get turn-by-turn directions on your Wear OS smartwatch. Plus, with Wear OS, you can do it without being connected to your smartphone if your smartwatch has GPS built-in. Here’s how to use Google Maps on your Wear OS smartwatch, by voice command and manually.

If you want to use navigation on your smartwatch, the first step you should take is downloading the Google Maps app from the Play Store onto your watch.

Like I said above, if your watch has GPS and Wear OS, you can navigate without being connected to your smartphone. You can even have the map always on with the ambient display. But, even if you’re on the older version of Wear OS, you can still navigate on your watch if your phone is locked, as long as its location is still enabled.

Get turn-by-turn directions by voice

You can tell your watch to give your directions to a particular place using your voice. Here’s how:

  1. ​Wake up your watch and say “OK Google...”
  2. Then say “...navigate to [your destination]...”
  3. Then specify the mode of transportation “ [foot, bike or car].”
  4. A Google Maps card will appear, and you may need to further clarify your destination.
  5. Turn-by-turn navigation will then begin
AndroidPIT moto 360 2015 35
You can ask for navigational help by voice or by hand / © NextPit

Get turn-by-turn directions manually

If you don’t want to set a destination by voice, you can do it manually. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Google Maps app on your smartwatch
  2. Tap a destination on the map
  3. Press the Navigate button at the bottom of the display
  4. Swipe left to see the address of the destination you chose, and swipe left again to change the mode of transportation between walking, riding a bicycle or driving, then swipe again to close that menu and go

Other Google Maps tips for Wear OS

  1. Once you’ve begun navigating, you can see a list of the directions by swiping up on the green card at the bottom
  2. To see the time and distance left until you reach your destination, swipe left once
  3. To take a break from full-screen navigation and mute the directions, swipe right. To go back to navigation, tap the blue arrow on the directions notification
  4. To cancel your navigation, swipe the card up, then left and tap Exit navigation

It's easy to get directions on your Wear OS smartwatch, whether by voice or by hand. Are there any other step-by-step instructions you want us to create for your smartwatch? Do you have any further tips to share? Let us know in the comments!

Brittany McGhee

Brittany McGhee

Brittany loves to keep up with the latest technology and innovation, so she is excited to have the opportunity to write about the wonderful world of Android. She thinks spreadsheets and numbers are fun, in addition to reading books and volunteering.

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  • ijedi Apr 13, 2019 Link to comment

    I would like to see a more simplified function for maps by using directional arrows to point to your destination. After setting the desired location, the watch simply pops a directional arrow overlay pointing that way. Ideal for walking but technically you could use it as a guide in any mode of transportation. In addition, you could have that overlay show on the lockscreen eliminating the need to unlock your watch every time you need to check your heading. Add an estimated distance meter under the arrow for bonus points.
    Identifying connected bluetooth devices would also helpful. Example: lost your phone so you open maps on the phone, any devices in range that is paired to the watch is not only detected but displayed on the watch. This could also be shown as a direction overlay in a "blutooth color" so it isn't confused with the "get directions overlay color"

  • D Rops Oct 3, 2018 Link to comment

    I got the ticwatch pro specifically for getting directions while driving/riding, and maps on wear OS is a gigantic POS. Not sure what genius at Google implemented it but its horrible: No easy to read, big arrow directions. No vibrations to alert for coming turns. It makes no sense to use it, because you have to keep looking at it and interacting with it for it to work. Alphabet, please fire everyone involved in it, they are idiots😂. Oh, and no Waze notifications or apps. POS. Switching it for a tizen or Peebles😁 instead. Seriously, how can you beta test this crap and not realize the obvious mistakes?

  • Zane Paul Sep 30, 2018 Link to comment


    The watch version of Google maps CANNOT DOWNLOAD MAP DATA even if you have a sim card and a data plan. It gets all of the map data from the phone app, which is why they must be connected.

    UNLESS you download the offline maps. Once downloaded TO THE WATCH, you will have the standalone navigation experience you're looking for

    I hope this helps you all. This goes for all Wear OS watches

    • NSP Aug 19, 2020 Link to comment

      Hi Zene, Can you tell us how did you managed to download the offline maps to the watch?

  • Gibble Jul 20, 2018 Link to comment

    One workaround that seems to help a bit (but isn't ideal), is pretend to go for a run, ie, press activity button, select run, then wait for GPS signal to be found (don't bother clicking start). Once it's found, go back and start Google Maps, see if it will use that location then.

  • Michael viner Apr 17, 2018 Link to comment

    I know you wrote this six months ago but apparently the issue still exists. You were one of the first posts I've found to acknowledge my same problem. Do you know if anything was ever done to solve this issue? Seems like as a stand alone device it really doesn't have a great deal of power. And the battery life is horrible.

  • Jason Armstrong Jan 2, 2018 Link to comment

    Yes I have the same issue with my Australia based Huawei 2 sport with its own sim card... Very surprising for the reasons above that is supposed to operate without the need for a phone. Are there other nav apps for wear?

  • DLM Oct 5, 2017 Link to comment

    So far, this does not seem to be the case. I have the ZTE Quartz, running AW 2.0, with GPS, its own SIM card, running on T-Mobile's 3G network, and, despite the device itself including, in settings, a Location option of "Device Only," in terms of specifying location, it still requires the use of my phone for Google Maps to provide navigation.

    It won't even find my location, unless my phone is connected, making the watch useless as a stand alone device, in terms of navigational use.

    This means dragging along my phone, which, nine times out of ten, winds up with me leaving my watch at home, since I have to use the phone anyway, and may as well use the phone's larger real estate for easier navigation.

    What's odd is that several reviews of the ZTE Quartz refer to use for stand alone navigation, and, running AW 2.0, it seemed the overhaul of AW was meant to achieve more independence for wearables, specifically to allow for independent device use in terms of Google Maps.

    I have read similar complaints regarding the Huawei 2, which buyers understood to allow for independent navigation, and it also seems to require a phone to be connected.

    Curious to know then, where your information is coming from, that this should be achievable? Is there a device with AW 2.0 that actually allows for the device to use Google Maps without a phone? I wish it was possible on my device. Would make owning a smartwatch a lot more practical.

    • Sam Armstrong Oct 27, 2017 Link to comment

      Exactly, I just got my LG Sport Watch, slapped in my gsm sim card, and every time I tell it to navigate, it says it needs my phone... So I'm returning it until at least wear 3.0 comes out.

    • Kal-El Nov 1, 2017 Link to comment

      I JUST tried to do this on my ZTE Quatz on T-Mobile....I have the same results. Typically I would return something like this back to the store, but I'm on the fence as to whether I should keep the watch or not since it was "free" from TMobile so long as I commit to subscribing to the Wearable data plan (also discounted to $15/mo). My conflict here is this...what good is me having a Wearable data plan if I can't use Google Maps as a standalone app?? The cost of the watch now at TMobile is now reduced to $96 at a monthly rate of $4 on the EIP installment....much less money than having to dish out $15/mo just to get the watch free. So without that data plan, wouldn't the watch still work perfectly fine so long as it's tethered to the cell phone via Bluetooth? I have a few more days to reverse the data plan and simply play out of pocket ($96) for this otherwise great watch which can still make/receive calls without the unlimited data plan being necessary. Thoughts, please??

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