Ge nanowires exhibit wide application potential in the fields of nanoscale devices due to their excellently optical and electrical properties. This article reviews the recent progress and patents of Ge nanowires. The recent progress and patents for the synthesis of Ge nanowires using chemical vapor deposition, laser ablation, thermal evaporation, template method and supercritical fluid-liquid-solid method are demonstrated. Amorphous germanium oxide layer and defects existing in Ge nanowires result in poor Ohmic contact between Ge nanowires and electrodes. Therefore, Ge nanowires should be passivated in order to deposit connecting electrodes before applied in nanoelectronic devices. The experimental progress and patents on the application of Ge nanowires as field effect transistors, lithium batteries, photoresistors, memory cell and fluid sensors are discussed. Finally, the future development of Ge nanowires for the synthesis and practical application is also discussed.