Smartwatches, do they stand long term use?
As one of lifes early adopters it was all i could do not to jump on the bandwagon the first sniff of an android watch, then after moto released the 360 I held off right up until a month or so later and the release of the Lg Watch R.
I held off for two reasons, the first being I wasn’t 100% sure of the need for a smartwatch the other was I’m a bit of a watch whore and don’t just strap anything to my wrist.. The Gen 1 smartwatches looked like a Dick Tracey TV and the Moto 360 for all its roundness, that flat tyre put me off.
Having jumped into the Smartwatch world however and several months later there are some plus an minus points to the Android wear world I thought I’d put down on paper here..
Straight off the bat,having played with both Android and Apple’s offerings i can honestly say unless you’ve got fingers the size of a newborn buying an Apple watch is 100% proof you’re buying the label and not the product. I find the interface fiddly, ill conceived, and frankly I think Jobs would be turning in his grave over it.
That’s not to say that the Android is perfect, far from it, however Google did something very clever about a year before releasing this, they got us using cards, those small displays of information.. And that has helped enormously in using the Android Wear platform and ensuring the interface wile not 100% intuitive was still less alien that that on offer by Apple.
So what are my thoughts?
Well firstly apps, these watches don’t need them, not in the traditional sense of the word anyway, i don’t think I’ve every used the compass, train timetable or maps app. I’ve certainly never used the camera view finder app. Just getting to where the apps are located is cumbersome and fiddly on the small screen and its honestly not possible to follow any directions off something like google maps on a screen that small either.
However as I’ve said the cards system on Android Wear works really well, and interacting with apps such as DuoMobile when launched from an card and then allowing myself access to something from my watch because i’ve left my phone downstairs does work well. As does controlling Google Musing from the watch
Providing me notifications on my wrist has also become somewhat invaluable, its much more natural place to look than on the phone..
The apps which do work are the ones which interact with the cards system on the interface as they appear when you need them..
The watches themselves are nothing more than thin clients tethered to your mobile device, and this is something you really notice when the 3/4G isn’t working so well and your out and about. the one time i tried to use Google maps on my watch, the signal strength on the phone wasn’t good enough to pull down the maps. While this is more a short coming of google when it comes to offline maps (which Nokia Here does far better) its just one of many times when I’ve noticed that if the phone can’t do it, forget the watch..
Battery Life however was a concern and when I got the LG Watch R i was getting a day out of it. Today after many uploads I’m getting about 2.5 days out of the watch if I run it sparingly, and its at this point I wish that LG had just used the same USB connection i use to charge my phone and not the propriety charging station as this would have made charging while away far easier. because it charges up to about 88% in 20 minutes.. That being said i’ve started to manage the battery life better.. and yes it needs to improve however eeking out 2 whole days isn’t too hard
And then there is the hardware itself, the watch itself does feel solid if a little plastic however the watch band feels like cardboard covered with gaffer tape, very cheap for something at this cost bracket, the same i’d say for the entry point Moto360 and several other watches. The watch is however responsive even with my sausage fingers which is a good thing.
All in all i do think there is a product area here long term, i think we are well off this being an honest mainstream product just yet however i do think that Google are making better strides into the interactivity with wearables than Apple at this point..