I hadn't even finished my post about living with Android Wear for 2 years when I get the 2.0 update. Of course I installed it straight away and, unfortunately, now I'm left very disappointed.
A number of things have changed in Android 2.0 and I'll go through what I see one at a time.
- Apps now live on the watch. Before the apps existed on your phone and your watch received components from those apps. For me, this isn't a game changer and, so far at least, it hasn't really affected anything I do. I always have my phone on me, so I didn't mind my watch relying on it.
- Android Wear now uses Google Assistant. Honestly I have not found any use for this on my watch so far. I've only found need for what the previous "Okay Google" could do and not found any opportunity to use the "conversation" style interaction which seems to be the big thing for Google Assistant. While not finding anything special about Google Assistant, I do have a massive negative which is that it is so much slower to load up. I say "Okay Google" and wait... sometimes even going for my phone when I get bored and other times my watch goes to sleep before it's managed to load. You can also access this my long pressing the power button.
- Replying to messages has been improved. This is one small gem which has been included. You can now select to reply to an email or text and get several quick options on how to reply. There are several predefined quick options such as "Yes" or "No", or you can reply by dictating the response, or draw an emoji or use a full keyboard which allows swiping to input the text and provides great autocomplete options.
- Notifications have changed. Now we're getting into bits which I've found really annoying. Notifications have moved away from cards so I no longer have a small preview of the notification sitting at the bottom of the watch face. Apparently there is meant to be a small icon instead to let me know there are notifications, but so far I am yet to see this and have been forced to have my settings stick notifications full screen until I look at them so I don't miss anything important. At first I missed a reminder as there was no visual indication on my watch. I also don't seem to always get reminders straight away on my watch. Sometimes I seem to need to unlock my phone before it will filter through, making it a little pointless. Design changes, while I'm not necessarily convinced by them, I have no big issues.
- App selection has been updated to be accessed by pressing the power button instead of swiping left. The design of the menu now has the icons sweeping along the left edge of the watch. This seems to just be just to make the selection more snazzy, but in no way offers an improved user experience from what I can see. In fact, I find it slightly more unnatural to operate, but is not a big deal for me.
- Watch face selection used to be by long pressing on the screen and then swiping left/right to scroll through the options. Now it is done just by swiping left and right on the watch face. This seems a very odd decision as changing watch face is not something I want to access regularly. I have found this slightly annoying as I keep going to bring up the apps and forgetting I now need to press a button for this.
- Theatre Mode is now much harder to access. This is probably the biggest issue for me with the update. Before theatre mode, which turns off the screen until the power button is pressed, was easily enabled by double tapping the power button. This was so simple to use and I would use the feature every night when plugging my watch in to charge, whenever I was in the cinema, whenever I had to rush into the dark bedroom to comfort my 2 year old daughter who had woken up and at other occasions. Now the only way to access it seems to be by dragging down the settings, selecting "Brightness" and selecting to turn off screen. An annoying process to go through which can not be quickly done and certainly not realistic when you don't want to light up a dark room to do it.
- Super Brightness Mode can no longer be accessed by triple tapping the power button. While I rarely used this feature, I can imagine it has been extremely useful to some people. Unfortunately that is now gone too and I'm not sure if there's any other methods of accessing it.
Just a note, if you get this update and "Okay Google" stops working completely, try restarting your watch. I had to do this, but only tried it after searching through all the settings trying to turn it on.
In conclusion, Android Wear is just generally not so nice to use anymore. Many of the little features that made it fit smoothly into my life have been removed for no big advantages. At this point, I don't think I'd get another Android Wear watch. I'm still using my watch now, but it now gets in the way a bit and isn't as useful as it used to be. It may just be my watch isn't powerful enough for Android Wear 2.0, but in which case, it shouldn't have been given the update. I will leave it a while to see if another update fixes some of the issues, particularly the speed of Google Assistant, otherwise I may attempt to downgrade to 1.5 again.