Two Months With The Android Wear

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Since the day I got the Samsung Gear Live, I was in love with the thing. Like anything for the first generation or two of a Google product, you are basically paying them to be a beta tester. And I am totally fine with this.

The Pros

I love having my phone notifications go to my wrist and with a quick glance I can decide if I want to dismiss, pull my phone out of my pocket, or quickly reply to the notification from the watch. If you have used Google Glass, the watch has a pretty similar card type system. You swipe up and down and then left and right to interact with that notification, similar to Glass where you swipe left to right and then up and down to interact. Both devices you can use voice commands, but for me talking to a device when I am in public or around others makes me feel uncomfortable. A couple apps on the watch do allow you to use a little keyboard (still in beta), but for the most part it is just easier to pull out your phone and respond to the message.

I also set my phone to vibrate so when I get a call or notification the watch will vibrate and I can see what the notification is. If it is a call, you can answer it, however you can’t actually talk into the watch. If you have an Electronic Over Ear Wireless Bluetooth Headset, you can answer with the watch and then talk to the person. I really like having my watch vibrate when in public and getting a call, it has always amused me when someone’s phone goes off in public and everyone grabs for their phone to see if it’s for them. I find I am on my phone less during the day and when I am at home or at the office. I do not have to take my phone with me, it can be on the couch or at my desk and I can walk pretty much anywhere and it does not disconnect. I have an app (Wear Unlock) that if the watch is bluetoothed to the phone, it turns off the passcode and I can just unlock the phone. If the watch disconnects from the phone then the passcode is back on my phone and the watch vibrates like crazy so I should never leave my phone behind somewhere, and if I do, I can’t get far. Also, having a tip calculator (FastTip) app on the watch is really handy. I never pull my phone out of my pocket anymore for these actions.

The watch also acts as a remote when I am listening to music from my phone in the car, watching Netflix or any other videos. It even works when I am Chromecasting something on the tv. I also have an app (Coffee Time) that has my Starbucks card bar code on it so I can just scan the watch at Starbucks instead of pulling out my phone. I also like having a step counter on my watch, but I find if my watch hand is in my pocket when walking that a lot of the time the steps do not get counted correctly. I like having the weather on my wrist as well because I check this every morning when I get up. If you turn on the turn by turn gps, you will get a mini map on your wrist and the watch will vibrate when you need to turn. Pretty cool.

The Cons

One of the things that I really dislike about the watch is you can talk at the watch to initiate a text message but you can’t initiate a Google Hangout, but I am sure Google will fix this in an update soon. Any app that supports Wear needs to be installed on your phone and then it will automatically send the app to the watch within a few minutes. To launch an app you can turn your wrist and say “Ok Google” and then the app name, or you can scroll through a menu with your finger until the start section, that is where all your installed apps are. This can be a bit of a pain to get to if you do not want to talk to your watch. There is a third-party app that has a drawer, just like Android, that you can slide out from the left side of the main watch screen. You can check out the app here (Wear Mini Launcher).

Unless you set the brightness to 2, which is more than bright enough, you will worry about running out of battery before the end of the day. If I set the brightness at 2, I can get almost two days out of a charge. I do unplug the watch around 8am and plug it in at night around midnight or 1am and it will be between 50%-60%, which is more than acceptable.

Just like my phone, I want to get a screen protector because I am always worried about smashing the watch face into something. It is the same feeling as worrying about dropping your phone when it is not in a case. I take the watch off for chores like cutting the grass or anything where I could bang it into something.

In Conclusion

The biggest thing for me between Glass and Wear is that I feel totally comfortable wearing a smart watch. I do not feel comfortable wearing Glass outside of my house, even at a tech conference where others are wearing Glass. For those of you that have an Android phone, I recommend Android Wear as long as you can put up with a few quirks here and there. If you are an iPhone user, you will likely just have to wait for the Apple Watch since Android Wear does not work with iOS, and from what I have read it will likely not work with iOS. If you want to learn about synchronize watches and the origin of wristwatches, visit Times Ticking’s website.


Kevin Horek

Kevin Horek was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He is a published author, is working on a radio show and works as a creative director. He has been doing design and front-end development for over 15 years. Worked on web apps, mobile apps and remembers the days when you used to use tables for layout. Wrote a book for Packt Publishing on Zurb’s responsive framework Foundation 5. Worked on projects for BMW, Best Buy, Apple, Adobe, Investors Group, Sprint, Eastlink, ATB, TD, Qantas Airlines, Emirates Airlines, Syngenta, CB Richard Ellis, Grubb&Ellis, Cushman & Wakefield, and Colliers International. His work has won site of the day, best site of the year for Colliers International, and has been published in Hit Parader magazine.

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