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Exploring the new “Android Wear” devices

Yesterday I picked up an LG G Watch, one of the first devices featuring the new “Android Wear” software. It’s a rather plain-looking device, but the software on it is phenomenal.


If you’re unfamiliar with Android Wear, this short video from Google gives a nice overview of what you can expect:

I’ve been using a Pebble watch for the past few months, so the idea of a smartwatch isn’t new to me, but Android Wear takes it to a whole new level. Last year I explained why I felt the Droid Maxx was the best smartphone around, and I think it still takes the crown, but Android Wear really changes the game. In particular, it makes two of the best features on the Droid Maxx become rather inconsequential:

  1. Active Notifications: The “active notifications” on the Droid Maxx are great, but rather unnecessary when I’m getting all of my notifications (or least just the ones I want) on my wrist.
  2. Touchless controls: Being able to speak “ok google now” to the phone has been wildly useful, but having it on my wrist with a simple “ok google” (or even just a tap of the screen) is a step easier.

With those two features now out of the way, my next phone may go a different direction. I’ve long said that my future phones would need to have those features, but now they really don’t. It’ll be interesting to see what Verizon has this fall that may interest me.

In addition, it does two great things that the Pebble can’t handle:

  1. Excellent connection to “Google Now”. In theory, this means the watch can provide information to me before I know I need it (weather alerts, sports scores, traffic that may impact an upcoming meeting, etc). Pebble can do a bit of that, but not nearly as well as Android Wear.
  2. Synced notifications. Pebble was great because I could quickly tell whether an incoming message warranted my immediate attention. However, if I saw that an email was junk, I’d still have to deal with it later on my phone or computer. With Android Wear, I can archive/delete the message (or even reply via voice input) and it’ll be dealt with on my phone at the same time.

Here are a few photos of mine, in various lighting and apps:

Should I get an Android Wear device?

I love this new watch, but the answer for now is probably “no”. First, this only works with Android devices. Apple is rumored to be bringing out an “iWatch” later this year, which will be Apple’s equivalent to Android Wear. It’ll likely be quite a bit different (they have nothing that compares to Google Now), probably with a greater emphasis on fitness.

Second, the design is rather dull. The Moto 360 is a beautiful watch that is due out in a few months (it was the round watch shown in the video above) that is probably worth waiting for. I didn’t want to wait that long, but by all accounts it will be a better device. Same software, but in a much better-looking design.

It also struggles with battery life and the screen can be difficult to see in the sun. The battery will last a bit over a day, so if you plug it in each night when you plug in your phone, you’re good go. The screen looks awesome, but gets rather washed out when you’re in direct sunlight. I expect future versions to have better battery life and a screen that is easier to view outdoors.

In the meantime, the Pebble is a very solid device that works with Android and iOS, and is a great choice for iPhone users until the iWatch is revealed.

Do you have a smartwatch yet? If not, do you have any interest in getting one? Tell us in the comments below!

About the Author

Mickey Mellen

Co-Founder and Technical Director

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