28 July 2015

Top Ten Free Android Wear Watch Faces

I've recently got myself an Android Wear Watch. It’s actually an Asus ZenWatch and thus far I’ve really enjoyed it. In using it I'm constantly on the lookout for new and attractive watch faces. There are hundreds of different watch faces out there and developers build more every day. I myself have created a few watch faces and am looking forward to launching a new digital watch face soon. I thought I’d do a list of my favourite free watch faces.

I’ll specify that the following list of free watch faces are almost all digital. Yes I’m one of those people who own a digital watch. I dislike analogue watches and always will.

Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.
- Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy)

Here is a list of the top ten free watch faces I’ve found so far:

  1. Weather Watch face
    This is a really beautiful watch face. Granted it’s “fremium”, you can install it for free and then pay for more features, but the basic model is really great.
  2. LED Clock
    Very simple, very elegant, I really like this watch face. Just LED numbers, nothing else.
  3. Word Clock
    I love this watch face, whoever thought of this is a genious. I wish I’d come up with the idea. It shows the time as words, which is really fun. No date and no battery info.
  4. Binary
    The ultimate geek watch face. Time displayed in highlighted circles representing 8,4,2,1 for the hour and so on. Really clever. Date in the background can be a bit hard to decipher and day of the week is missing.
  5. Matrix
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.dheera.wearfacematrix&hl=en Probably not great for battery and becomes a little annoying. Still a really fun idea. Doesn’t display any date or battery levels.
  6. Space and Time
    Colourful and fun, these things please me.
  7. Vigor Watch Face
    Comes free with either Google Wear or Asus, either way it’s a lovely little watch face. Ties nicely into the numbers of steps you’ve done in a day.Lacks the month and year, but I should really know that shouldn’t I?
  8. QWF
    This is a really lovely little watch face. Super simple, super pretty. It lacks a day of the week and some of the information the others have, but that’s excusable.
  9. Un Petit Monde
    No options, battery and limited date display, but a fun design with a relaxing background effect.
  10. Simple Watch Face
    Does exactly what it says on the tin. A nice simple watch face with good colours and a good idea for a theme. No 24 hour, no date, no battery.

09 July 2015

Android Wear - A week with a smartwatch

Thus far, I've not been impressed with smartwatches, I like new toys but even Android Wear has yet to impress me. The watches are just too big, I don’t buy into the charging every day thing and frankly I'm just not excited about the benefits. I've had a Casio watch which I've worn every day for about fifteen years and I've never charged it. Not once!

Roughly a week ago my work bought an Asus Zenwatch running Android Wear for testing and developing on. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth and always up for some new programming and tinkering I was quite looking forward to having a play. I've previously written a test app but I used an emulator for this: http://webdeveloperpadawan.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/android-wearables-first-go.html

My first impression of the Zen Watch was actually very good. It’s not nearly as fat as the LG Moto 360 which a few of my colleagues have and both the leather strap and the face have a nice look and feel. It is square but I can’t imagine that would bear any consequence to anyone.

It is too big, my tiny girl wrists are very twig like and the watch doesn't fit well and looks huge. There are huge gaps in the corners where the watch overlaps the flat bit of my wrist. That said it is comfortable and easy to get used to.

Turn on and set-up are a breeze and you can play with the watch faces on the play store which is fun for a few minutes.

Then it hits you….what now? You can’t really do anything with it! This is what is quite funny, people spot it on your wrist quite quickly and you honestly can’t show them much. It’s a passive device, you can’t play games on it, you can’t type on it, it just responds.

Sure you can use OK Google which is impressive, but I don’t talk to my phone and I’m unlikely to talk to this. It does work well and you can send messages and such by talking. Word to the wise, don’t try this after half a bottle of wine as I ended up sending all sorts of random messages to various people.

The beauty of the watch, and where I'm finally coming to actually really like it, is when you need to react to something. For example when one of the millions of spam messages comes to my phone, I don’t actually need to get my phone out to check it. I can immediately check and prioritise what’s important. The other thing that really stands out is the vibrate on your wrist, this is great as I often miss a call or message on my phone. The wrist vibrate is subtle but also unmissable. The ability to not get your phone out of your pocket sounds unbelievably lazy, but the watch works. For example in meetings or when you’re busy doing something, you can prioritise at a glance. Is this just another meaningless message from some inane whatsapp group or is it a message from Nest saying my house is on fire?

The battery is much less of a big deal than I thought, I'm getting two or three days of use out of it (I turn it off at night) and can just chuck it on its gradle for a bit while I'm working on it. Will it get tired….possibly, but so far its really not bothered me.

The Oatmeal have a fantastic post about the watch, all be it the apple one…. and it’s got funnier pictures than I do:

So to summarize, I'm impressed, very impressed. It can be surprisingly useful and does make life much easier. Million dollar question, would I buy one? No. They’re too big, when technology advances and the size comes way down, yes I will.