What are your thoughts on Android Wear? Everything you hoped it would be?

July 4, 2014

    moto 360 first look (4 of 12)

    With the launch of Android Wear, smartwatches were catapulted from the realm of gimmickry to the rarefied peaks of must-have technology. Or were they?

    It’s easy to get excited over Google’s efforts. After all, no smartwatch platform before Android Wear has managed to obtain large-scale success, and the fact that Google has put its weight behind the concept is hugely encouraging.

    Alas, great concepts don’t always translate into great products, and hype alone is not enough for a new class of devices to take off.

    So, in this Friday Debate, tell us, is Android Wear all you hoped it would be before its launch? Are you particularly impressed – or disappointed – with the features of the first AW devices (Gear Live and G Watch) and the operating system itself? Were you hoping for something more or is the current form of Android Wear already a strong product?

    Join our discussion, vote in our poll, and sound off in the comments.

    Robert Triggs

    I have been a bit of a wearables sceptic in the past, but Android Wear has been a pleasant surprise. The hardware seems to be in the right place now, with waterproofing and higher quality displays at the top of my features list. Product diversity is also a big bonus for consumers, especially compared to the limited range of looks available with previous products like Samsung’s Gear or Pebble.

    Android Wear has helped pull wearables away from being labelled as a gimmick, but it’s still not a product that I feel is going to have universal appeal. Fortunately, Google has paid a huge amount of attention to making the software functional and the UI intuitive, and communication between compatible apps seems to be as effortless as possible. Quick responses, music controls, and navigation cards are all a little more convenient on your wrist than having to whip out your phone, which is where the real value in a smartwatch lies.

    There are still some obvious limitations to the platform – it probably needs wider implementation of voice commands, there’s only so much that you can fit on such a small screen, and it’s still a pain to have to go back and open some things on your phone. We are also going to have to see what sort of functionality third party developers can bring to the platform, but fortunately Google has made plenty of tools available.

    On the whole, Android Wear looks like it is off to a great start, and the platform will only improve as new hardware and software arrives with time.

    Josh Vergara

    I am really excited for Android Wear. However, as you will learn in my upcoming review of the LG G Watch, it is not because the system is great already – I’m excited because I know it can only get better from here.

    As it stands right now, Android Wear is really limited. It looks and works wonderfully as a notification center, even if a number of them show you only as much as the non-expanded versions in your notification dropdown on the phone. However, having a background picture and the card in front of it a la Material Design is a nice way of displaying information and has yet to get old.

    If there is one task that I am always happy to do, it’s messaging. While it currently only works with Hangouts for replying to messages and SMS texts, being able to swipe over, hit reply, and then just dictate a response is a breeze. It doesn’t work all the time and sometimes you have to talk like a robot to get it to work, but for every instance that it doesn’t work, there are half a dozen successful replies and I have a tiny ‘mind blown’ moment each and every time. If you were already a fan of the dictation capabilities of Google Now, then you’ll thoroughly enjoy it on Android Wear devices.

    So here are the current limitations – first and foremost, Android Wear is meant to be an extension of your phone, not a replacement for it. That is exactly what I always imagined smartwatches to be, but I find myself missing certain functions that were before possible with my Pebble and now are not available in Wear due to its nature. My main example of this is having an all-in-one solution for music playback and volume control.

    Companion apps that install to the watch via the phone application are either opened via their corresponding voice command (which is okay) or by going through a few swipes of a menu, which is a drag. Perhaps having an easily accessible card listing the apps you can initialize would be one solution to this.

    And then my last gripe is with notifications themselves. While just getting a ring on your watch alerting you to received notifications is good already, it would be nice to expand all of them to read on the watch rather than needing to get the phone out. Granted, this is a limitation that is dependent on the way those specific apps format their notifications in the dropdown, but it’s something you notice quite a lot when swiping away.

    But here’s the point of the excitement – as I’m typing this right now, the full release of Android Wear devices hasn’t even happened yet – I can’t even say that Wear is in its infancy because as far as the general consumer is concerned, it hasn’t even been born yet. And that means there is infinite room for the ecosystem to grow. Plenty of applications are updating on a rolling basis to support Wear and that will only continue – but what I really want to see are developers creating standalone applications that you install on your phone which then push functionality to the watch, much like what we saw in the early days of the Pebble. I imagine that this is the way many of the holes in functionality will be filled, and I can’t wait for that to happen.

    (Oh, and the vibration on all the watches across the board could be more pronounced. Just sayin’.)

    Adam Koueider

    The Android Wear devices available right now are a disappointment. The problem with smart watches has been, and continues to be, an issue of whether I would want to wear this on my wrist. For people who wear watches, the question is whether the smart watch looks and functions better than their regular watch, and for people who don’t wear watches it’s also a question of how the smart watch looks and also whether the services it provides are worth the “effort” of putting something on your wrist.

    Right now, the Gear Live and the LG G Watch aren’t very attractive, they’ve got horrible battery life and they don’t offer much. Were we expecting so much from version 1.0 products? Probably not. What Android Wear has succeeded in doing is getting the software 90% of the way there. It offers notifications in an easy to view and manage method, it tells the time, offers navigation and it looks and works pretty well. Obviously, there are still little quirks such as being pushed to your phone too often for my liking, but the software isn’t the big problem right now, the hardware is.

    As far as looks go, it looks as if we will have to wait for the Moto 360 before we can comfortably say we’d welcome a smart watch on our wrists as far as fashion is concerned. Battery life, is and will remain an issue for the forceable future. Samsung could perhaps offer a mode similar to the Galaxy S5′s Ultra power saving mode, on the Gear Live where the whole OS goes black and white to take advantage of the Super AMOLED display, and there are other options such as Qualcomm’s Mirasol display, but for now we’ll be required to charge our smart watches more often than we’d like.

    Android Wear has succeeded in creating an OS that people would like to use, but now it’s up to the OEMs to create devices that people would like to use. The Moto 360 might be that device, but whether it can live up to the incredible hype is yet to be seen. Right now, we are stuck in a waiting game and most people would be better off waiting before taking the plunge into Android Wear, I’m not too sure I can do that though.

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    Comments

    • MasterMuffin

      Honestly, even though Android Wear is great, there’s still nothing that makes me want a smartwatch. Absolutely nothing

      • Mayoo

        I would get it only for sh*ts and giggles. As a gadget, to try it off. But at $250, I’ll pass. Bring some models at $150 (Nexus watch?) and I might being looking at them. But it won’t be because I need one.

        • J_Pod

          If the moto 360 is anything like the moto x, just wait until the beginning of next year and it’ll be half price. That’s what I’m probably going to do

          • marytrasnick

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            didn’t believe that my sister woz like actualy bringing in money part-time from
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            • http://facebook.com/icecowboy Maynard K

              Aha…. …thnx!

      • Gator352

        How do you make a smartwatch?………Send it to school!! :)

        • http://facebook.com/icecowboy Maynard K

          Wouldn’t that be how to make a watch smart? :-D

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    • http://galaxynote3tips.blogspot.com/ Martens Nkem

      Android Wear in it’s current state offers me nothing. It works on the assumption that 80% of what i do my phone is look at notifications and the voice control isn’t quite there for now. From my time with Google Now on my phone i think i would be better off actually interracting with the phone by touch. having to now talk to my wrist in public isn’t for me and it is a surefire way to make people around pissed, but i would jump on it if i could leave my phone at home, and the battery life could get me through 2 days with wireless charging included

    • Harry

      My one wish for the wear was to be able to use as a standalone device in some cases. Motoactv was one of those devices that was conceived along those lines (in limited fashion). I just wish Google had taken the concept and made it more fluid instead of making the device purely dependent on the phone. A concept like that would be great for a car but not for a wearable. Having to carry a phone for a quick 5k seems unnecessary. Buying a separate device such as the garmin 620 beats the purpose especially if I have to switch to a android wear for rest of my day.

      • Alfredo

        Exactly. I was hoping for a standalone Wear device, without need for a smartphone to carry around.

    • xoj_21

      they need to fix the poor battery life.
      smartwatch have to last days.

      • renz

        Even days is not good enough. Our regular watch battery will last for years. They want smartwatch to replace regular watch but the need to recharge on regular basis is one of the main reason why i’m not interested with smartwatch no matter how fancy the smart features on it.

        • Gator352

          Do you wear your watch 24/7? Sleeping? Shower? Then how hard is it that when you take it off, to put it on the charger like you do with your phone? I wouldn’t think all that hard unless it’s going to literally break a bone or put you in traction.

          • renz

            not really. when i take off my watch i just forget about it. no need to remind myself have to recharge my watch everyday.

            • Gator352

              Put the watch on charge when you put your phone on charge. I do get what your saying though so don’t get me wrong, but it’s a poor excuse! :)

    • Shark Bait

      Absolutely! It looks great, and has a simplistic well refined interface.
      It doesn’t need to be all bells and whistles, that’s what your phone is for

    • http://www.cm3-shop.de/ledlampen Martin Lampen

      Amazingg gadget, if only I was rich as fkk …cause im not giving 250$ for a watch …pleasee, I preffer a smartphone with dual Flash Led Lampen

    • Aar0nC

      I want more google glass news!

      • http://facebook.com/icecowboy Maynard K

        Pundits (tho’ often wrong, wrong, wrong) are predicting Google’s shifting their priorities away from Glass to Wear for various reasons, including that the new wearables deliver most of Glass’ functionality with nearly none of its arguable downsides (putting people off by making them always wonder if they’re being filmed or otherwise recorded, making wearers look like the lead character in the Transmetropolitan graphic novel, high price, etc.)

    • Omar

      I’ll only buy one if it comes at $100-150.

    • Omar

      I’ll only buy one if it comes in at $100-150.

    • Will S.

      The problem is there just isn’t a compelling use case for smartwatches, and unfortunately Android Wear, as superb as it is, does not change that.

    • Romel

      $250 isn’t bad (not great either) IMHO, I’ve spent more on good old fashioned watches.

    • aaloo

      Essentially an android phone from 4 years ago strapped to your wrist. It does not do anything more or better than what my phone already does. Not worth buying for me.

      • Alfredo

        Except that android phone from 4 years ago can act as standalone device,
        while Android Wear will be useless without companion smartphone.

      • s2weden2000

        It’s not supposed to either…

    • Gary W

      Garbage. Won’t wear even if it was free.

    • http://tienthanhcomputer.com.vn/ layvorui

      It works on the assumption that 80% of what i do my phone is look at
      notifications and the voice control isn’t quite there for now. Sua Macbook

    • renz

      it doesn’t pick my interest at all even with all those feature. to me stuff like smartwatch is just another expensive toy or just another way for OEM to milking android.

    • LeadTheLeader

      I think it could be better, I was expecting more funcionality
      Led Lampen

    • Darktanone

      Let’s be honest, it’s crap until Apple enters the field and shows them how to do it right! That’s when everyone gets pumped and starts making all kinds of outrageous claims about innovating. Much like they do now about their mobile phones! Google and just about every Apple competitor have failed countless times to introduce exciting new products or anything… Like NFC or Google Glass, this garbage is just more stuff to add to the pile of failures.

      • Gator352

        There are medications for your condition. Just sign up for Obamacare, pick a doctor 200 miles away, sit back and relax. Your Apple fanboi-izm will soon fade and you’ll be normal again.

        • Darktanone

          Check your racism at the door! Your comment is off topic and offensive, but since you wrongfully insist on politicizing this topic, I’ll respond. Obama would have been a more effective president had the conservatives been more open to a Black man being president. Yeah, I said it! From day one, they’ve been obstructionists and uncooperative. Anything to oppose and undermine his presidency! Both parties want the best for the country but conservatives, like you, just don’t want a Black man to fix the mess. Plain and simple! Your comment is supportive of this racist attitude. Mit Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, successfully created the same healthcare program for his state. It served as the blueprint for Obama’s Affordable Care Act, but somehow that’s been explained away and glossed over. Whatever! You speak from both sides of your face. You racist hypocrite!

          • Gator352

            Like I said. There are medications for your condition. Besides, I’ll let you know a little secret. I’M BLACK and a conservative so check yourself.

            • Darktanone

              Predictable come back, but if true… Two words. SELF-HATE. No medication for that!

      • s2weden2000

        Nfc is growing by the day..where do you live mars..L 0 L these aijphoney users

        • Darktanone

          Growing by the day is true, but it has not taken off! Only someone with really, really low expectations would consider this a success. By comparison, Apple’s iBeacon is seeing much more widespread adoption.

          • s2weden2000

            it´s in use in several countrys..it´s not ment for payment only …L 0 L ibeAcon

    • http://facebook.com/icecowboy Maynard K

      S’not gonna get a strap back on my wrist… …least until an ecosystem that links me and my doc/set of health care resources across a whole series of periodic and real-time health readings evolves into something truly functional and possibly life-saving…

      …and looking at the cable spaghetti of all the “chargeables” already littering my desk, a week between charges feels an absolute minimum for adding yet another.

    • s2weden2000

      ePicness…

    • Mike

      Why would I possibly want a device with a tiny screen on my wrist that can do much less that the smartphone in my pocket ? Even if Samsung, Lg and othrs were giving away all these things for free I wouldn’t take it. Another device to charge every day for no reason ? Why ? Not sure where this dumb trend came from, I guess the rumors of Apple working on iWatch scared other companies into competing with Apple in this questionable market as well, but really it’s completely pointless and useless. And even if these smartwatches had excellent batteries that lasted for years – I still wouldn’t buy it or even take it for free. My smartphone does absolutely everything I need quite well, I wish phone manufacturers worked harder on improving battery life for smartphones, instead of coming up with weird ideas while trying to persuade me that I need a smertwatch now. Here’s and Idea though – smartbuttons. Imagine that every button on your shirt has a tiny touchscreen, synchronizes with each other, your phone and watch, takes pictures and makes funny sounds ? How coold would that be ? Samsung, Lg, Sony, Apple, this is a whole new huge market, come on !!!!!!!!!!

    • Dwayne Marshall

      Honestly android is only getting here from the movies of late but do not be afraid of the change we saw this coming for a long time now I am glad to know that that’s where we as smart humans have basically simplified the phone and a computer into a watch, love it keep it coming, THIS MESAGE WILL NOW SELF DESTRUCT

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