Living with Android Wear for 2 years

UPDATE: I have now written about my experiences since the Android Wear 2.0 update in a separate post, Android Wear 2.0 has changed my mind.

I've always liked the idea of having a computer on my wrist, probably since my days of watching Power Rangers and James Bond as a kid. So I was keenly watching the development and release of Android Wear and the Pebble smart watches.

While I'm an Android user, I was watching Apple to see if they would come up with something innovative in the watch department. I have to say I was particularly disappointed in their contribution. The Apple watch looked nothing more than a small iPhone strapped to your wrist with no amazing technology to compensate for the poor design.

I did really like the concept of the Pebble and the Pebble time, with the simple e-paper displays and long battery life, but one thing I'm quite particular with in my watches is, it has to be round. For starters, I like the shape and also I find it quicker to read the time on an analogue watch face than a digital (and I really don't like the look of an analogue watch face squashed into a square shape, however it's done). Pebble was a little late bringing to market their round watch face, so it was the LG Watch R and the Moto 360 which were the first smart watches to really grab my attention. I had previous to this been waiting for the round smart watches as I knew they had to be on their way. However, it was the LG Urbane which I really liked the look of and eventually invested Christmas and Birthday money in.

2 years on, I'm still wearing my Smart Watch and so I thought I'd share my thoughts on it now.

Google Keep List on Android Wear

The Good

  • It's still working, with no signs of it wearing out. That includes 2 years worth of washing up it has survived. I want my watch to last a long time, and so if it was built like a phone which is clearly reaching the end of it's life at about 20 months then it would be too expensive to justify.
  • Music control is great. I can quickly skip a track or adjust the volume when listening to music while washing up, cooking etc.
  • Speaking of cooking, it serves as a great assistant by keeping a recipe handy, or list of ingredients which I can tick off as I add them in on Google Keep, or by displaying a list of food I have to prepare for a party. No messing up my phone with flour and having to fumble to unlock it every time I want to check something.
  • Setting reminders is a breeze. While I don't talk to my watch in public, in the house I set myself loads of reminders with it. It's just so simple to quickly say "Okay Google, remind me to...". I've used this a lot to remind me things I need to get from the shops on the way home, or remind me to send an email that night etc.
  • Google Fit is great at counting my daily exercise. I've set it to track a number of walks and it works brilliantly. However, the tracking it does when I haven't said what I'm doing is a bit dodgy. It thinks I'm running half the time I'm walking and if I push the buggy it thinks I'm cycling.
  • And the charging is not normally an issue. Every night I plug it in as I head to bed and it normally never drops below 50% charge.

Google Fit on Android Wear

The Bad

  • Some Apps can be a bit slow sometimes, to the point that I might try checking train times but end up giving up waiting and pull out my phone to check there instead.
  • Texting does not work well from the watch, unless you're talking to it to send a quick text. I tried an App that would let me type whole text messages, but even a short one was a pain. "Okay Google, Text..." works well enough, but I'm not going to do that in public.
  • I had hoped to use my watch a lot for train and bus times, but this hasn't proved so convenient. I tend to just get my phone out still.
  • And the notifications do get annoying sometimes. I clear them all off and 5 mins later there are more. This is possibly half my fault for what notifications I allow.
  • One note on the battery. Since I started writing this I have unfortunately had my first experience of my watch running out of battery. I had been tracking my walking with it as I did the 14 mile Marsden March. Unfortunately at about the 9 mile mark I noticed my watch was dead. I hadn't realised the tracking would be such a drain on the battery as I thought it was mostly operating on my phone. It does mean it might struggle if you want to use it for lots of sports activities though.

Android Wear Watch Face
Android Wear Watch Face Power Saver Mode

One thing I did struggle with was finding a watch face I liked. The screen is an OLED display which means that the blacks are darker and do not use power which is why the power saver screen uses a lot of black. I wanted my watch face to look as similar to the power saver version as possible and so have a completely black background. I couldn't find any watch faces that offered this, but luckily I was able to create one using Pujie Black Watch Face app which was really simple to use and had so many options.

So in conclusion, I am thoroughly enjoying my Android Wear watch and as long as it keeps going for a while longer, I would definitely consider buying another in the future. Hopefully it would be a bit cheaper at that point though.