Jul 14 AT 9:24 AM Brooks Barnard 9 Comments

Initial thoughts: Android Wear

Android Wear G Watch-crop

I’ve been a happy Pebble user for over a year. I wore it everywhere. If by some crazy mistake I forgot to bring it with me on an outing, I felt naked. I’m quick to admit that I’m a huge nerd, but I really enjoyed the functionality that the Pebble gave me to always be connected. No matter where my phone was; in my pocket, on the charger, on the car mount, or under the couch cushion, I could be notified of emails, texts, and phone calls. I think Pebble did a few things really well by keeping it simple. I’m not sure Android Wear is keeping it simple, but it offers so much more.

I’ve had my hands on the LG G Watch for almost a week now. Here are my first impressions of Android Wear via the LG G Watch:

What I love:Android Wear G Watch dimmed Pebble

  • I can talk to my watch. This is a miracle feature when driving and while my phone is charging. It’s a little uncomfortable to use in other places, however, like the office or the grocery store.
  • I love having a color touchscreen display. The e-paper display on the Pebble saves battery, but I’m over it. And the Pebble’s four hardware buttons feel like very dated equipment now.
  • Dismissing notifications on the watch dismisses the notifications on the phone. Awesome.
  • Also, you can see more of your emails or text messages than you were able to with Pebble, which is far more functional.
  • Games. There aren’t many of them yet, but the potential to have some awesome games is there. Am I the only one enjoying Flopsy Droid?
  • It’s running Android. Developers are already coming up with some awesome solutions to not so perfect operating software. I know Google will improve it. I know developers can make it awesome.

What I hope improves:Android Wear G Watch Pebble2

  • Bringing the watch out of its non-listening dimmed state is not  as reactive as I would have hoped. I feel like I have to twist my wrist in an unnatural position to get the watch to wake up.
  • On that note, Android Wear is a little too easy to activate by touch. I often find myself almost changing my watchface with my underarm when folding my arms during a conversation. I know an app has already been developed to combat this, Baby Time, but I’d enjoy a prettier, more mature solution. Baby Time is definitely on the right track, though.
  • Voice recognition is nowhere near as good as on a phone. I feel like I have to yell at the watch and it correctly gets what I’m saying about 50% of the time. It makes me feel like I never want to use the voice commands in public.
  • Not having a light sensor is a mistake. I think the LCD display could do better in the light than it does, but brightness needs to be adjusted manually and the brightness settings are buried in the menus. Fortunately, Mini Wear Launcher just got an update this morning with a quick brightness slider. I haven’t gotten the update yet, but color me stoked.
  • Accessing apps is fairly ridiculous. You either need to launch it with voice controls, which may or may not work, or access them by once again going through a maze of menus. I just found Mini Wear Launcher a couple of nights ago and it’s a great solution so far.
  • Watch faces! Where are the custom ones!? I WANT MOAR OPTIONS! The stock options are pretty lame. I’m sure our beloved themers out there will come up with some amazing stuff. Roman Nurik is already making a Muzei watch face that will be on the way as soon as Google releases a public API for custom watch faces. Hopefully other devs are following suit and working on some. I’m left asking, what are you waiting for Google?
  • I wish I could adjust the timeout time. You have to act fast with Android Wear. Frustratingly, it also goes back to the clock home screen if it times out instead of picking up where you left off.

So, I’ve obviously listed quite a few things I’d like to see improved with Android Wear. I think a lot of them can probably be improved on this first generation Android Wear hardware. I’ve loved the simplicity and battery life of the Pebble, but I honestly can’t see myself going back to it. The possibilities of what can be done on Android Wear are so much greater. I’m excited to see the platform develop and grow.

Let us know your thoughts and questions regarding the Android Wear platform by commenting below. We’d love to hear from you and answer your questions!

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 Android modding and theming. He has a hot wife, is a father of three, an avid F1 fan, and enjoys watching sports when he can. His current devices include the Nexus 6 and 7 (2103) both running stock roms and may or may not be rooted. You can follow Brooks on Twitter @Brooks_Barnard.

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  • Bart

    That is correct. None of the “Android Wear” watches have a camera. Your Samsung watch with a camera is not a “Wear” solution.

    @Brooks: I think you intended to say you want “MORE,” not “MOAR options.”

  • Levi

    Yeah, but can you see the watch in sunlight?

    I SO want to like Android wear. I love my Pebble. But everything I’ve read says that it’s NOT just a matter of looking at your watch to see the time if you’re out in sunlight. And after trying one of the original Sony smart watches, I found that annoyed me more than I wanted. I want the tech, but the MAIN thing it needs to do is allow me to simply glance at my arm to see the time, pretty much no matter what. Pebble does that.

    • Mike

      In complete agreement. I want to like Android Wear also. But, after getting my Samsung Live watch, I found I couldn’t glace at my watch while driving to see why it vibrated, I couldn’t use it on the golf course as a rangefinder, and I couldn’t use Runkeeper like I normally do because in the light of day you can’t turn up the brightness enough to see anything!

      I guess this is the perfect watch for Vampires. It’s definitely a deal-breaker for me, until the screen visibility issue is resolved.

    • http://www.androidandme.com Brooks Barnard

      I geniunely think the outside visibility isn’t a *giant* issue now that we have quick access to brightness settings with the help of apps like the Mini Wear Launcher. That being said, it is very difficult to see the clock when it’s in its dim mode, but a quick flick of the wrist will brighten the screen and it’s pretty readable.

      Pebble blows it out of the water though with direct sunlight visibility. Just look at the pictures I included…

  • Kimbo

    One of the features I like on my Jawbone UP24 is its smart alarm, which wakes me up by vibrating. I’d love to have this same functionality with an Android smart watch… I’m sure someone will make an app that does this, but do y’all think the watch would be too big to wear to bed?

    • http://www.androidandme.com Brooks Barnard

      If you charge you watch during the day I don’t see why someone couldn’t make a app to do that. Android Wear device have the same accelerometer technology that the fitness bands do. Hopefulness generation Wear devices have better battery life.

      I’ve enjoyed apps like that on my Pebble too. But I charge my G Watch at night so a art alarm won’t work for me at the moment.

  • underseaglider

    Android smartwatch is gradually improving its functions and performance in order to meets the user’s expectations and needs. Android Wear can be a best companion especially for people who are always on the go.