LET ME SUMMARIES
At the moment it doesn’t feel like the full Google Now experience. Pebble’s OS works a lot better in this respect.Android Wear: Gesture controlsTheres no pinch, zoom or multi-touch to worry about, but when you are not talking to your Android Wear smartwatch theres a few gestures you need to get accustomed to help nevigate your way around.Android Wear: Google Voice SearchIt doesnt take very long to realise that Googles Voice Search is a major part of how you interact with Android Wear smartwatches.3 JellyBean upwards.
We actually had to hard reset the watch to refresh the installed apps. Re-syncing apps to the smartwatch which is done via the Android Wear app usually does the trick but we struggled to get apps to appear on the Gear Live. Whether thats something trivial or looking for an address, Android Wear can handle it. Weve gone into more detail about what we made of the quality of apps in our LG G Watch review and while its a mix bag theres good variety of high profile Android apps.
Android Wear: Google NowGoogle Now is one of the key components of how Android Wear works. Disappointingly, it doesnt really work. All of that data is stored and can be viewed in the Fit application.To activate it on the G Watch and Samsung Gear Live you can double tap on the screen or simply say OK Google.
As much as we hate having to use voice search, which is by and large how you interact with Android Wear, it is at least accurate and gives you what you need. You can swipe down to scroll through screens which entirely depends on how many notifications or alerts have come through. As awkward as we feel talking to our tech in public, this is one part of Android Wear that works really well. Apps are built into the Google Play Store but as far as we can see they are only searchable via the Android Wear app.
It breaks the flow of an otherwise slick operating system and hopefully this will be addressed in later versions of Android Wear. Its never going to replace your Samsung Galaxy S5 or Moto G but it does hope to give you the information you need in a discreet way and provide some of the same functionality without you having to reach into your pocket every time. Getting app developers on board is going to be crucial to make Google’s vision for Android Wear work.Pebble’s OS remains the most established platform but Android Wear has all the ingredients to build the smartwatch we will really want to own.
Its a look thats largely inspired by Google Now, the intelligent digital assistant thats accessed on Android smartphones usually by swiping left on the homescreens or doing the same action up from the home button. That does mean it covers a broader range of handsets than Samsungs Tizen-based smartwatches, although those with Android phones running an earlier version of the operating system have cause to grumble.Connecting the smartphone to smartwatch is done over Bluetooth 4. The concept, much like HealthKit, is to unify all the tracking information from multiple fitness data, whether thats running, cycling or anything else sporty and ultimately remove the need to own a separate dedicated activity tracker.
The first one to learn is swiping down on the clock face to view the date, battery status and mute or unmute notifications. What you can do with the notification entirely depends on the nature of it as well. It does mean using voice search to do it, but it is possible.In the case of the LG G Watch theres no buttons and the Samsung Gear Live has a single button to turn the watch on and off.
The idea of bringing all of this data into one place and not having to worry about using different apps to track different things is a great idea. Its a similar scenario when you accidently send an unfinished dictated message. Google continues to add greater functionality including features like parking detection and creating product reminders when you walk past a shop. Relying on your phones GPS it takes an age to calculate routes and will inevitably force you to go back to your smartphone and use Google Maps in the conventional way.
One of the areas the likes of Samsung and LG do have some control over is your choice of watch faces and both offer a way to customize the always on display. The same clean, predominantly white UI has been adopted for Android Wear scaling down the size of the information cards to better suit the smaller screen. You dont have a keyboard although as ridiculous as it sounds, app developers are making them. Google wants Android Wear to be consistent.
Android Wear: How does it workAndroid Wear is all about turning the likes of the G Watch and Gear Live into companion devices for your smartphone. Google Now clearly still needs to take time to learn about the information you really want or need but from what we’ve seen so far it’s the most interesting feature we’ve found, not just in Android Wear, but across all smartwatches. Google needs some form of stop gap like flashing up a message that says, Are you sure to prevent this.The Gear Live and LG G Watch have different microphone placements, but voice recognition is generally accurate across both.
Android Wear: AppsBottom line, theres not a lot of Android Wear apps. Calendar appointments come through at the beginning of the day so you can get a good idea of what you have planned and we even got regular updates on the cricket although they are presented as football scores for some odd reason. However, at the moment its far too primitive of a feature to know if Googles approach works.Weve spent a good deal of time with the operating system for our LG G Watch review and our first few days getting to know the Samsung Gear Live review coming soon and the core of Android Wear definitely impresses, but it’s still a little rough around the edges.
Prepare to go through the awkwardness of speaking to your wrist and asking it if you have any meetings tomorrow or to launch Google Play Music.Considering the size of the screen, keeping these gestures down to a minimum makes sense although it currently lacks an easy way to jump back to the main watch screen, which would be a useful addition. The lack of apps is a problem too, and leaves many of the key Android Wear features largely untapped. Its also the place to customize settings for notifications and browse compatible apps.
This should in theory all filter down to Android Wear smartwatches.VerdictIts abundantly clear that although Android Wear is polished in some areas, it still needs refining. Bridged notifications are the type you find popping up in the drop-down notification bar on your phone and the contextual notifications relate to Google Now updates. Both the LG G Watch and the Samsung Gear Live have the motion sensor technology to be able to track steps while the Samsung additionally includes a heart rate monitor.
In contrast, Pebble smartwatches currently play nice with both Android phones and iPhones. Hardware manufacturers need to give the operating system an attractive place to live and ensure it has the power and more importantly the battery life to give it the best chance of success. Thats right.Weve seen enough to suggest Android Wear provides the most compelling case that smartwatches could have a place in our day-to-day lives.
No doubt the Google Play store will soon be well stocked with watch faces, and Google has since confirmed that a custom watch face API is on the way. That could be plotting your journey home, recommending places nearby to eat or finding out the latest football scores.The LG G Watch and the Samsung Gear Live are the first Android Wear watches to go on sale, with the Moto 360 to follow later in the year, although Asus are among the companies rumoured to be jumping on the Android Wear bandwagon. For now, the G Watch and Gear Live does give you some options to get started.
Google Nows bite-size information really impresses and can only get better. Weather updates have a permanent spot on Android Wear while travel updates take some time to adjust to accurately pin point your commute. You can see when calls and messages are coming through and can deal with these notifications on the smartwatch. You wont be able to see the Google Now cards or notifications, but you can use basic smartwatch features like the stopwatch.
It uses location and search data to deliver information that youll find useful for that precise moment. It works in the same way as Google Voice Search does on your phone so you are free to ask pretty much anything youd normally go to Google for.Android Wear: Google FitJust as Apple launched its HealthKit platform paving the way for its own assault on the fitness wearables market, Google announced Google Fit.Android Wear: NotificationsThe idea of receiving notifications has formed a fundamental part of what the first generation of smartwatches like the Pebble and the Samsung Gear are able to do.
Google Now always felt like a great fit for a smartwatch and when you finally see it in action its easy to see why. In Android Wear there’s what Google calls Bridged and Contextual notifications. For starters, you have to live without a notification drop down to quickly access settings or launch apps from homescreens. The interface looks great but it needs to become intuitive and easier to use straight out of the box.
You can also see stacked notifications, like the one in the picture above, which can show multiple notifications from one application.One of the most interesting uses is navigation and the ability for Android Wear to guide you to a destination. You’ll need to speak to your watch to make notes, dictate emails and text messages. Its not just about Google though.
This could be great for cyclists for instance who can’t reach into their pocket or someone who is simply lost and doesn’t want to walk around with their phone constantly in their hand. There’s not the free-for-all you find with different manufacturers’ versions of Android. Tinder, Runtastic, Philips Hue Control, Golfshot Golf GPS, Google Keep, Duolingo, The Guardian, American Airlines and Google Hangouts are among the first batch to get the Android Wear treatment. Similarly creating the right type of functionality in those apps that make sense on a smartwatch is going to be vital to the success of the operating system.
One issue you will encounter is that its all too easily to accidently swipe away a notification you havent had time to read.Android Wear: Design and InterfaceWhile manufacturers can put their own spin on the hardware, Google has kept control over the look of Android Wear. Swiping right on the screen will dismiss alerts or swiping left will give you the options to act on the notification. These options are hidden away at the bottom of Google Voice Search and if you dont want to search for them by voice, it can make navigating to find them a fidgety process.
In most instances youll have to swipe right for the option to send it to phone but for emails and messages which can be expanded and read on the watch it’s a feature well suited to Android Wear watches. Downloading apps is done through the phone and should then appear on the smartwatch although thats not always the case. These gestures will work across Android Wear smartwatches so once you know it, you are good to go on any Wear device.What is Android WearAndroid Wear is Googles operating system optimized for wearable tech and specifically smaller screens like the ones you find on smartwatches.
You need to download the Android Wear application to your phone to establish the connection between the two devices. Disappointingly we cant say that Android Wear provides an intuitive user experience just yet. Then youll be presented with examples of commands you can ask your phone about. LG currently offers a better selection to choose from but both could benefit with some bolder, more visible options.
0 Low Energy so when you are out of range of your phone or signal drops, you are left with very limited functionality. Its worth pointing out that Android Wear is not compatible with iPhones or Windows Phones and will only work with Android phones running on Android 4.At the moment Fit is very basic and much of that has to do with the lack of fitness or health apps currently available for Android Wear. This is one of the few teething problems in an otherwise hassle-free setup.
While Android for tablets and smartphones might not be as easy to use as iOS, it’s going in the right direction. When you consider that Pebble smartwatch apps number in the thousands, Google has some catching up to do.There were some cards we had selected in Google Now that didnt make an appearance like the links to news stories based on recent search history or the places nearby cards.
Inspired by features already present in the smartphone and tablet-friendly version of Android, Google is pinning its hopes that Android Wear will be the key to giving smartwatches real appeal.Android Wear wont let you make calls and rightfully so as the very idea of having a full blown conversation on a watch is just ridiculous. Its simplistic and anything more complex simply would never have worked.Much will rest on Google staying committed to helping Android Wear evolve, just like it has done with the standard version of Android. Let me know what you are thinking.