G Watch AH 31

Android Headliner: Android Wear Needs Work, but Google’s Smartwatch Attempt has Staying Power

July 25, 2014 - Written By Tom Dawson

Android Wear has been out for some time now, and it’s not just Android sites like us that have now reviewed the G Watch and the Gear Live. Other tech sites have weighed in with their view on Android Wear and the two current options and well, it’s a little mixed. I’ve been reading reviews on the G Watch (the watch I reviewed and wear on a daily basis) from the likes of The Next Web, CNet and other reputable outlets and it seems the general consensus is that Android Wear isn’t all that great, and that things are a little ‘meh’. In general, I can certainly see why Android Wear is receiving such reviews, right now it’s in a strange sort of limbo period where it’s just getting off its feet, but there’s still not much happening in general. However, I feel that Google’s attempt at the smartwatch, or at least how we should interact with such a device on our wrist gets a lot of things right, and that Android Wear isn’t going to be yet another failed experiment of Google’s.

A lot of people’s mixed reaction – in my personal opinion – comes down to a lack of understanding just what Google were going for with Wear. It’s not designed to be a gadget on your wrist, we all have enough gadgets these days, and instead an Android Wear watch is designed to show info when you need it, and sort of fade away when you don’t need it. This approach to notifications is something that really ‘clicks’ with me. I don’t want to set up individual smartwatch apps or extensions for each app I want to get notifications for – as I had to with Sony’s SmartWatch 2 – instead I just want to rest assured that all my notifications get through. My G Watch does that, be it GMail, Hangouts, Muzei when my wallpaper changes, a phone call, a Facebook alert, Google+ or whatever else Android Wear picks up everything I want it to. Admittedly, only GMail and Hangouts prove much use to me on my wrist, I use SMS for most things and I can send a message from the main menu or reply quite quickly. Bizarrely, I can’t send a Hangouts IM in the same manner, and other apps like Facebook are fairly useless right now, but this is of course up to their respective developers, not Google.

After using Android Wear for about a month or so now, it’s just sort of fit in, I never have to deal with duplicate notifications on my wrist and my watch, I can send quick SMS messages back and forth when in the kitchen, music control is simple and easy to use and if I just want a watch I can shut off the noise. I feel that Android Wear has more to offer than a lot of people think it does, and the only real way to find out is to try it out for yourself. This past week I got to see a “real person” as I often refer to people that don’t ogle over tech like we do, learn to use Android Wear; my Dad.

My father isn’t the most technologically-aware person out there, and considering he’s getting into his 60’s now, he’s much like any other average user off the street. He has a smartphone and loves it, uses a laptop proficiently and you know, just uses technology like anyone else would. He recently upgraded to the excellent G3 after two years with a Galaxy S3 and got the G Watch on special offer. Watching my Dad wear the G Watch and tell it to remind him to deal with the trash in the morning, or ask it Football (sorry, soccer) scores was fairly fascinating. He had a little trouble getting used to the voice control and the idea that swiping a card away would mean it’s gone until later, but overall he is enjoying it. In fact, grasping the idea of swiping these cards away with no real way of getting them back again was his biggest issue, but after an in-depth explanation from myself he understood that it’s a watch first (despite the fact the G Watch and Gear Live are both pretty abysmal in bright sunlight) and then an extension of your phone second.

This is one of the biggest reasons I think Android Wear is going to stand the test of time and ward off competitors, it’s only just getting off the ground, but if everyday users can learn to use it and work it into their daily life, then Google have gotten it right. Sure, Android Wear needs work, but it’s not been the boring, disappointing start that others might have you believe.