Android Wear Reactions

The people who ordered their Android Wear devices the day of the announcement are starting to receive them so I though I'd share my thoughts after having used the LG G Watch for the last week or so. Three things I think you should know as a bit of a disclaimer:

  1. I wear a watch everyday. I have for years so having something on my wrist feels normal for me.
  2. I got my device for "free" as a Google I/O attendee
  3. I'm huge. Seriously. I'm 6'7" (2.01m) and weight 315lbs (143kg). So I may be a bit less sensitive about the size of the watch that other people.

At Google I/O there was a lot of discussion amongst the attendees about which watch to choose. The LG G Watch has a larger battery and I personally like the style a bit more. The Samsung Galaxy Gear Live has an AMOLED screen and a heart-rate monitor and what nerd doesn't love additional sensors?! Ultimately I decided to go with the G Watch and my Google Developer Group co-organizer ordered the Galaxy Gear Live. He wasn't able to make it to Google I/O so his is one of the watches arriving today.

My overall impression of the G Watch is that I really like it! It's comfortable and not too big for a wrist. This may be a result of disclaimer #3 but I've seen it on other people as well and it didn't seem out of place on them. The Galaxy Gear Live looks a little chunkier but is not actually any bigger so it should also be fine for most people. I do have some concerns about the Moto 360 as it was noticeably larger than either of the currently available models but we'll just have to wait and see how it feels. I've seen other people say that they think the screens on the current watches are actually too small to be useful but I think they're misunderstanding the idea behind a wearable device. You're not meant to read email or check Facebook on it. It's designed to be a low friction heads up display so you can glance down and see what that notification was and decide whether to ignore it or take the time to open it on your phone. That's why each notification has a handy "Open on Phone" action.

I do have to say that the G Watch screen is really difficult to read on a sunny day. Even with the brightness turned all the way up it just can't compete with the sun. If you're wearing sunglasses it's just a black box on your wrist. For me that's not a total deal breaker but I wish they had gone with some other display technology to reduce the issue somewhat. I only got to see the Galaxy Gear Live inside the Moscone Center so I can't say how it fares under those conditions but AMOLED usually does a better job in direct light.

I haven't had any trouble with battery life. There is a setting that will completely turn the screen off after being idle for some time but I have elected to leave that off since I want to be able to just glance at my watch and see the time. I use the G Watch pretty heavily and I get a full day out of it. I take it off the the charger at around 8am and put it back on around midnight at that point it usually has around 15-20% of battery left. Some people say that it's not acceptable to have to charge a watch everyday but I don't have a problem with it since I charge my phone every night anyway.

So it comes down to the real question, is buying an Android Wear device worth the purchase price? At $199 for the Galaxy Gear Live and $229 for the G Watch they really aren't much more expensive than a nice, regular watch. Taking that into consideration along with all of the added functionality of Android Wear I'd say it's a no brainer for Android users who already wear a watch daily.

NOTE:
I have seen some people having issues with the Galaxy Gear Live. The band is designed to latch by pushing two pegs on one side into two holes on the other and it seems to have some trouble with staying on securely. You can easily upgrade the band with a standard 22mm replacement band to resolve this issue.

There is another issue with how the charger works on the Galaxy Gear Live. On the back of the both watches there are five metal plates that need to contact their charger. The G Watch has a cradle with magnets that grabs the watch and holds it firmly in place. The Galaxy Gear Live has a slot on either side of the watch body that is meant to match up with pegs on the charger. You're meant to snap the charger on or off to go from charging to wearing the watch. Some people are finding that, in just the handful of days since Google I/O, these slots are breaking leaving no secure method of attaching the charger to the watch.