Monday, May 25, 2015

Chai Time: My Review of Android Wear-Sahen Rai

After having a Moto 360 for around 1 month, it’s sort of difficult for me to imagine life without it. It offers me notifications from my phone at any time, it allows me to control my music on my wrist, and much more. But as much as there is to love about the year-old platform, there’s also a lot to not like. So let’s delve into what I think of Google’s super-mobile operating system, Android Wear.

After pairing my new watch with my Moto X, I’m greeted with my watch face.


This watch face can be changed from the watch itself, or from a number of custom face makers. From there, I’m greeted with cards. Lots and lots of cards. So many cards in fact, that to someone not used to the interface it could be pretty intimidating. Fortunately, I’m not one to be scared off by such things. These cards are what Android Wear is based around, and everything is usually just one slide to the right. My weather, health information, text responses, and more are literally right next to each one of these cards. This system is elegant, and it I feel like it works really well for the form factor. I give Google props, I imagine it’s hard to make software that works and that’s intuitive for a display little bigger than the  size of a quarter.

The first Wear device released by LG, the G Watch, is more or less reference hardware for the platform.

LGEPR / Foter / CC BY
The pixel density of around 240 ppi is alright, and does a decent job at such a small resolution. But unfortunately, it doesn’t look as good as the offerings from Samsung.But that’s just it, most of the hardware that runs Android Wear is just decent. There hasn’t been a lot of devices released just yet that “wow” me. That's likely because the platform is still in its infancy, so I’ll allow it some time before I deliver my final thoughts.

To say I don’t love Android Wear would be a fallacy of the worst kind. I adore Android Wear, from the easy notifications to nearly everything else about it. But while there’s a lot for me to love, there’s also some things that need to be improved. For one, Android Wear often forgets to give me a notification after I get a text. I’ll check my watch shortly after I know I’ve received a text, and a card shows up but I know I didn’t get a vibration. This wouldn’t be a massive deal for pretty much any other device, but on a device meant to make notifications even easier. This is definitely a pretty big drawback. Another thing I wish Android Wear would do better is making the whole thing more intuitive. As I mentioned earlier, for me the software is fine. But for most, it can definitely be pretty confusing at first. All the swipes up, down, left, and right can get annoying at time. That coupled with an app drawer in the least easy-to-access place possible (Double tap, scroll through massive list, tap) and things aren’t exactly intuitive.


I’ve had my ups and downs with Android Wear. I loved the IO presentation of it last Summer, and saw a lot of potential. That potential is still there, it just needs to be brought out more. Android Wear could easily be absolutely awesome. Much like what the side button on the 360 requires, Android Wear just needs a little push. With enough software updates, and better hardware. Android Wear will be great, now we just need to wait and watch.

By Sahen Rai