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.

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