My first day with #Androidwear – LG R Smartwatch

I’m a big fan of all things tech and especially all things Google. I was 8th in line to try Google Glass in the UK when they launched the bootcamp. That’s my level of geek.

Whilst the press have been focused on the upcoming launch of an Apple watch I’ve been keenly following the development of #Androidwear. I’m more excited about this for the following reasons

  • more people have Android phones and it is a more affordable platform. Apple is expensive – and despite the disproportionate level of media coverage has declining market share. Chinese companies are coming on strong in the mobile market – expect to hear lots more about Xiaomi, OnePlus and Oppo over coming months
  • I use lots of Google products so it offers me a high level of integration. I basically live my life through Android – notes, reminders, calendars, document storage…
  • It’s the first platform to offer a range of watches (Sony had a smartwatch offering several years ago, Pebble was a successful Kickstarter – this isn’t the first offering but it is mass market)

Today I received through the post an LG R watch. I’d decided to get the most ‘watch looking’ of the launch products that I could and this looked like the most likely to fit the bill. The Moto 360 looks gorgeous but early reports suggested that battery life would be less that the LG R and I’m a bit of a power user when it comes to my mobile technology.

So…initial thoughts.

  • The interface which is based on information cards takes some getting used to – but by the end of day 1 it’s feeling quite comfortable for most regular actions
  • Being able to touch your watch and say ‘Ok Google, play The Kinks’ and then have Sunny Afternoon blare out of my phone was very cool. Awkward in public, but a really fun experience. The music player is let down currently by the fact you can’t select playlists directly from the watch
  • The Twitter functionality that is built in is interesting and how it might change my use of Twitter is interesting. Essentially a notification comes up on the watch of a mention and I can then RT, favourite or reply to that Tweet. RT and favourite do as you’d expect. Reply automatically opens the Twitter app on my phone with the handles of the people I am replying to already populated. Neat. It needs both devices to work but is a better experience than attempting to type on a tiny screen. There is an app called Bunting that allows voice dictation to Twitter and I’ll probably try it but I imagine hastags and handles will confuse it mightily. Emails work on a similar basis
  • When you receive a call you can see the caller and then swipe to reject it, swipe to accept it on your phone or send it to voicemail and send a text saying ‘busy’, ‘I’ll call in a bit’ or similar. I could see this being handy in quite a few situations.
  • It has built in basic fitness functionality – it tracks steps towards a daily goal you set and can monitor heart rate. I can see this actually being really helpful over time. I’m a bit of a stats geek and I like having targets to go at
  • I’ve been able to send texts to my wife by saying ‘OK Google, text Kerry…’. I’ve been impressed with the accuracy even with background noise. I also tried ‘show me my calendar for tomorrow’ and that worked too.
  • I can change watch faces and download new ones – which I probably won’t do that often but if you are out hiking you can choose to see a compass and if I’m away from home I imagine I might use the dual timezone options
  • Battery life seems to be holding up – I’ve been playing all day and I still have a third of the charge left). On a normal usage pattern I’ll probably get 1.5 days out of it. I’m not fussed about needing to charge it nightly as I don’t wear a watch to bed
  • The screen was easily visible in sunlight on a low brightness setting. Of more concern is that I don’t think it will be very subtle in a cinema etc when the lights are off
  • Looking at the range of apps available is bewildering and might tell you something about modern priorities – the range of apps already available includes i) faking a call on your phone so you can leave an awkward conversation ii) remotely getting your phone to make a fart noise iii) using your watch to advance presentation slides iv) using it as a remote trigger for your camera. Of these I can possibly see me using iii). And maybe ii) if I’m being honest…

Overall I’ve been impressed so far. Bluetooth connection has been steady with the exception of a blip straight after a software update and this already feels like my main new watch, rather than a gimmick.

I’ll post another update when I’ve spent more time with it and experienced the Google Now notifications (designed to think ahead and provide information before/when you need it) a bit more.

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