Primetime: Android Wear Needs A More Unifying & Visionary Watch

Android Wear 2.0 was released recently and brought with it a number of new features. Which does mean that there has never been a better time to create a new Android Wear smartwatch. At the same time though, there has never been a worse time. Smartwatches on the whole are in decline, and the market for Android Wear devices is a crowded one. The biggest problem is that each of these options all have different niches. Some are blatantly made just for sport, some are aimed at the premium sector, some are loaded to the gills with features, but most of them don't strike any sort of balance, or even try to. As things stand in the market, none of them reflect a definitive vision for what Android Wear should be. Which does mean that it is probably time for Google to step in. Back in the early days of smartphones, the Nexus One provided an end-all-be-all blueprint. The Galaxy Nexus later showed what Android could do sans the skins that were drowning the market, and the later Nexus 6P showcased stock Android in a powerful form factor.

Right now, the premium, feature-packed Huawei Watch is, in this writer's opinion, the closest thing we have to a Nexus watch, but that comes with its own set of problems, and it's certainly not a shining beacon for the Android Wear world with the power of Google behind it, nor is it the modern, feature-rich watch that could drive up demand and draw attention to Android Wear. Android Wear is of relatively little importance to the current smartwatch market, the entire market is on a down-slope, and the Android Wear options available all have a target of some sort. Right now, the Android Wear universe is in need of a watch that pulls double duty as a trend-driving Nexus, as well as a highly-desirable and feature-rich Google Pixel.

Let's go over just what such a smartwatch may be like. We would be looking at a somewhat simple design, one would imagine, made to be ergonomic and subtly appealing. This is where the LG Watch Sport loses out, with its chunky body and silicone strap. It would show off all of the key features of the platform, and likely be powerful and long-lived. That's where the LG Watch Style drops out of the running, ditching a SIM slot and NFC to up the battery life and be thinner than the Sport. The key to it all, though, would be absolute integration with all of the features of Android Wear 2.0. Video calling would likely be enabled through Play Store apps and a front-facing camera. A cellular radio would likely be on board, or at least an independent Wi-Fi connection. Those two features would give the watch the coveted ability to replace a phone for communications completely, from telepresence to regular phone calls and texts. Complications, things on the watch face besides the time, would be front and center. NFC pairing and Android Pay would be on board, with other NFC features coming as soon as possible. The entire experience would be tied together by the kind of stability, smoothness, and attention to detail that can only come from tightly integrated hardware and software. Of course, the watch would also get the newest updates as soon as they're available. The whole deal would likely come at premium price, and if Google played their cards right, would be widely hailed as being worth it. As you can see, the LG Watch Sport and Style both check a lot of these boxes, but not enough to fully fit the title.

The Huawei Watch is as close as we're going to get to something like that for its time, with the new LG Watch Sport and LG Watch Style bringing up the running by being the first watches to sport Android Wear 2.0 out of the gate, and showing off a bunch of its new features. None of those, however, is a universally appealing option built around its software in the same way the Pixel XL is. The Huawei Watch came at the right time, but lacked a few key features. As for the two LG devices, one is clunky, and the other skimps on features, and they're, personally speaking, debuting a bit too early to offer anything more than an early adopter's experience with the new features in Android Wear 2.0; nobody has had time to really play around with and refine the features yet. This is evidenced by the compromises that the thinner LG Watch Style has to make for its body size and battery life. While they both boast a ton of features and are built with a simple and clean aesthetic, and even have Google's blessing, neither of them are able to say that they are built to spec by Google with the express intent of showing manufacturers what Android Wear should be and providing a gold standard for consumers to expect. Likewise, they can't boast of being Nexus-like because they're solving a problem that hasn't been created yet. A device that does both, or perhaps lies somewhere in between, is just what Android Wear needs. Google putting out an Android Wear 2.0 device would be the equivalent of them saying, "This is the line. This is the standard that all other Android Wear 2.0 devices need to be held to", and with a guide in place for manufacturers and a gold standard in place for consumers, the entire space would hopefully benefit from more coherency and a renewed focus on quality. On top of that, having something being branded only by Google would be good for marketing, as has been shown with the Pixel and Pixel XL, as well as the likes of Google Home.

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About the Author
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Daniel Fuller

Senior Staff Writer
Daniel has been writing for Android Headlines since 2015, and is one of the site's Senior Staff Writers. He's been living the Android life since 2010, and has been interested in technology of all sorts since childhood. His personal, educational and professional backgrounds in computer science, gaming, literature, and music leave him uniquely equipped to handle a wide range of news topics for the site. These include the likes of machine learning, voice assistants, AI technology development, and hot gaming news in the Android world. Contact him at [email protected]
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