Aug 14 AT 9:23 AM Brooks Barnard 11 Comments

What’s Android Wear actually good for?

Android Wear Feature

I’ve read in more than one place that Android wear is just an extension of your phone or just Google Now on your wrist. It’s just a way to not have to pull your phone out of your pocket as much. Android Wear does do these things, but I think it’s much more. Maybe we are obsessed with our phones and maybe we are pulling them out of our pockets an outrageous number of times per day, but I’ve never counted nor cared how many times I’ve pulled out my phone. However, smartwatches do offer more than saving you a little arm overuse. Do they offer enough extra functionality that I think everyone should go buy one now? No. But I know your phone does not “already do everything” you can do with a smartwatch. So let’s all stop saying that.

I’ve now had the LG G Watch for a month and it’s definitely left some impressions. Some good. Some bad. Additionally, I wore a Pebble smartwatch every day for over a year before the G Watch. I like what a smartwatch does for me. For those of you that have no idea how you’d use a smartwatch, I thought I’d tell you how I use mine. I’m not saying this is exactly how you would use it, but here are some ways I enjoy wearing a smartwatch, and more specifically, Android Wear.

In the Car

Android Wear 5I’ve felt for a long time that Android needed better hands free functionality. It’s definitely getting better with some recent Google Now updates, but unless you own a Moto X, your phone isn’t “always listening”. In reality, Android Wear also isn’t “always listening”. However, what Android Wear can be is “always on your wrist and ready to listen”. With your phone, when you’re driving you will likely have to take your concentration off the road for a moment or two to find, pick up, unlock, and use Google Now or do whatever. With Android Wear, you know exactly where your watch is; it’s on your wrist. All it takes is a simple twist of the wrist to wake up Android Wear and it’s ready for action waiting for voice input. I use Android Wear in the car all the time to start navigation, open apps on the phone (podcast, Spotify, etc.), send text messages, and initiate phone calls. All this without having to fumble to find my phone and take my eyes off of the road.

In a meeting

Android Wear 1Now, it’s arguable that it’s just as poor of meeting etiquette to be fiddling with your watch during a presentation as it is to be fiddling with your phone. But Android Wear does offer quick responses to SMS and rejected phone calls. No, you don’t need to voice activate and speak to use these quick responses. Android wear has a list of responses that are quick and easy to use to let your friend or loved one know that you’re there and that you care. You’re not ignoring them. You’re just in a place where it’s inappropriate to pull out your phone and answer or text back.

In the home

Android Wear 4What? Who’s too lazy to pull out the phone at home? Not me. But I do use Android Wear all the time at home. I, like many Android users out there, have a phone (Nexus 5) with less than ideal battery life. So, one of the first things I typically do when I get home is throw my phone on a charger. Now, with Android Wear it doesn’t matter where I am in the house or where my phone is, I’ll know if I’ve received a text (and can respond) or if I’m receiving a phone call. I can set timers when I’m cooking and my hands are messy. I can check the weather or the commute times while I’m getting ready in the morning. All with my phone out of reach or on the charger. It’s about always being connected.

Home automation

I admit I’m a huge nerd, and I’ll probably get burned for calling this hackery, but I really enjoy being able to control things from other things. Maybe it’s laziness, or maybe it stems from elsewhere, but I like being able to control things around the house with my watch. Using AutoVoice Pro in conjunction with Tasker, you can get your watch to control all sorts of things just by talking to it. Examples could be toggling your phone’s Wi-Fi, controlling your Nest thermostat, or turning on and off lights. I enjoy getting it all rigged up and I really geek out on controlling everything from my watch.

These are some of the biggest things that I use my LG G Watch and Android Wear for. Do I think Android Wear is for everyone? Is it something you can’t live without? No, it’s not. But I do think it’s something that can be very convenient (and may improve safety) in special situations. Also, it’s dang fun to use. What do you think about yours? What are the most important ways you’re using your Android Wear watch? How would you use it if you had one? Or how do you wish it could be used? Drop a comment down below!

Brooks is an engineer living in the Bay Area recently dislocated from the Great Northwest. He's an Android enthusiast who decided to start doing something (productive?) with his countless hours surfing the interwebz and addictive ROM flashing and began writing. He has a hot wife, is a father of two, an avid F1 fan, and enjoys watching sports when he can. His current devices include the Nexus 5 and 7 (2103) both running stock roms rooted and modded with Xposed Framework (but this is subject to change). You can follow Brooks on Twitter @Brooks_Barnard.

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