Before You Buy an Android Wear Watch

Are you curious about Android Watch - or smart watches in general?
Well, after a month of living with the LG G Watch, I can tell you about a few of the delights and disappointments that this new watch brought for me. Before we even get into the list, let me confirm that this watch is, in fact, very big on a woman's wrist. Men traditionally have larger sized watches, so this will probably bother them less, but it might be a good idea to check one out in the store before buying. 

1.  It won't let you answer the phone from your wrist.  

Samsung's Galaxy watches let you do this, but the LG does not. So check before you buy. If your watch doesn't have a speaker, you're going to have to do some extra accessorizing in order to avoid pulling your watch out of your pocket or your purse and start wearing a Bluetooth headset. (And if you've already got a Bluetooth headset, there's no point in using your wrist to answer your phone, now is there?) 
On a related note, you can text from your wrist.

That's a seriously cool trick. Just say, "OK Google, text (name of person in your contact list) "Your message." Google takes dictation. I've used this feature to have a text conversation during pauses for red lights while biking home. 

2.  You can tell you have a phone call even in noisy environments or if your phone is in your purse. 

Ok, so you can't answer the call, but you can tell that you have it. Because your wrist will vibrate. This and appointments at a glance have actually made the cost of the watch worth it to me. 

3.  There's not a lot of watch-specific software yet.

There are a lot of apps that basically use your watch as an extension of your normal phone notifications, but there aren't a huge number of apps written specifically to be watch apps. There are a frustratingly large number of previews that cut off before they offer enough details and force you to "tap to open on phone." 

The Android Wear OS, however, makes even the default functions very usable. You get integrated Google Now cards with things like time to commute home and the weather. Appointments that show on Google Calendar also show up on your watch, complete with a countdown to the time of the appointment and the location. If you work in an office with a lot of meetings, this is an incredibly handy feature. 

4.  The swipe motions feel counter-intuitive and confusing at first. 

Most items on your watch will use a few basic swiping moves. Swipe right to dismiss something. Swipe left to get more details. Swipe up and down to navigate between apps and alerts. Press occasionally. I can't tell you how many times I've swiped right when I meant to swipe left. You've got a tiny grace period to undo an accidental dismiss swipe, but it feels confusing when you made a mistake and slow when you haven't. 

5.  Your watch doesn't work if you don't have your phone or forget to charge it. 

Most Android Wear watches do not come with any wireless connection outside of Bluetooth to your phone. If your phone is out of juice or at home when you are at work (oops) you'll see the appointments, alerts, and weather information that was current when you last synced with your phone, but it will never get updated, and you can't ask Google Now for help. This is very much a phone accessory device, not a phone substitute. 

6. You need to charge it a lot. 

I've never had my watch run out of juice in the middle of the day, but you do need to pull of your watch and charge it each night. For some people this isn't a change of habit, but I am used to wearing an old school waterproof Casio that I pretty much never removed. 

7. You really can shower with it on. 

Like I said, I'm used to my old school waterproof Casio, and I'm not at all used to removing watches for the shower. The good news is that the LG G Watch (and all the Android Wear watches featured on Google Play) are tough enough to take a few drops of water. Don't go swimming, but don't sweat getting caught in the rain or forgetting to take it off in the shower. 

That's a seriously cool trick. Just say, "OK Google, text (name of person in your contact list) "Your message." Google takes dictation. I've used this feature to have a text conversation during pauses for red lights while biking home.

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Tech Magazine: Before You Buy an Android Wear Watch
Before You Buy an Android Wear Watch
Tech Magazine
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