How to Install APK files on the Wear OS smartwatch

The Apple Watch is without a doubt one of the best smartwatches out there. Whether it’s to track workouts or to respond to notifications. Another big advantage that the Apple Watch has is the large number of apps. Unfortunately, the Apple Watch can only be used with an iPhone. This leaves Android users with only  one option – Wear OS

While Wear OS is rich in features, it’s not as polished as watchOS on the Apple Watch. However, just like all Android phones, it is customizable. Besides the apps on the Play Store, you can also sideload APK files just like you would on a smartphone. This is useful if you can’t find an app on the Play Store or if it’s not available in your area.

What’s the use of Sideloading apps on Wear OS

Wear OS is a platform that has evolved over the years. However, the application ecosystem is still very immature, as many application developers have stopped supporting their applications. This resulted in the removal of several Wear OS apps from the Play Store. You can install APK versions of these apps on your smartwatch and sideload them if you want to use an app that is no longer in the Play Store.

Apk on Wear OS

Some Wear OS apps appearing on the Play Store may not be available in all regions. For example, Google Pay is only officially available in certain countries. However, you can install the APK on your Wear OS smartwatch and use it in your region.

How to install APK on Wear OS Smartwatch using ADB

There are several ways to sideload an APK file on a Wear OS smartwatch, but we’ll take the global route via ADB. You will need a computer to install the APK files on your smartwatch via this method. It is the most secure because there is no third party app.

Prepared by the Asian Development Bank

Step 1: Download the relevant ADB files based on the operating system you are using on your computer.

Get ADB for Windows

Get ADB for Mac

Get ADB for Linux

Step 2: Extract the ZIP file to a location of your choice. On Windows, hold Shift and right-click on the extracted file, and select “Open command window here.” On Mac and Linux, open Terminal, type cd and hit Enter to change the active directory. Then drag and drop the folder you unzipped into the Terminal window. You will now get a path to this folder on Terminal. Press Enter.

Terminal window for installing Bloatware

Step 3: To enable ADB debugging on the watch, open the Settings app.

Wear OS settings

Step 4: Scroll down to the System section and tap on it.

System settings

Step 5: Tap on About.

About the department

Step 6: Scroll until you find the build number. Tap it 7 times repeatedly to open developer options on your watch.

Build number on the Wear Os smartwatch

Step 7: When you open the Settings app, you will find Developer options at the bottom of the page. Click on it.

Developer Options

Step 8: Tap on the toggle button next to ADB Debugging to enable it. Tap the green tick when asked to confirm.

Correcting Adb Errors on Wear OS


Step 9: Scroll down a bit and also activate the toggle next to Debug over Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi debugging

Step 10: The watch may initially display a message that it is not available which will soon be replaced with a string of characters including the IP address. This means that ADB is enabled over Wi-Fi. Make a note of the IP address shown here. It would be something like

Correction not available


Install APK files via ADB

Now that you have enabled ADB over Wi-Fi, let’s start transferring the APK file to the watch and installing it on the computer.

Step 1: Download the APK of the app you want to install from reputable sources like APK Mirror . Copy it to the platform-tools folder where ADB is installed.

Step 2: In the previously opened terminal window, type ./adb connect. The IP address here is what you wrote down earlier. It will look like. / adb connect

Adb Connection

Step 3: You will now see a prompt on your watch to allow an ADB connection. Select OK.

Select OK

Step 4: The device window will now show that you are connected to the watch.

connected to watch

Step 5: Use the command ./adb push /sdcard/ to transfer the APK file to the watch.

Adb Push

Step 6: The file will be pushed to your watch as the final result has been confirmed.


Step 7: Now it’s time to install the app. Type this command, where filename.apk should be the name of the APK file you want to install:

./adb -e install

Step 8: A success message will now be displayed on the device to indicate that the app has been installed on your watch.

Install APK

Step 9: Go back to the Settings app on your watch, then go to Developer options.

Developer Options

Step 10: Turn off ADB debugging to make sure it doesn’t unnecessarily consume battery power in the background.

Correcting Adb Errors on Wear OS

Step 11: Open the app drawer on your watch and you will see the app you installed listed there. Open it and you can use it like any other app.

Apk installed

If you want to install multiple applications, repeat the process and turn off ADB debugging at the end. The process is similar to installing apps on Android mobile via ADB. The only difference is that we use ADB over Wi-Fi instead of using a wired connection.

Install unsupported Wear OS apps on your smartwatch

Download APK files of any apps you want and install them on your Wear OS smartwatch with ease. This way, you can use all the apps and games that are not officially supported in your region or on your device