Does Android Wear put smartwatches on your radar?Anna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
So, wearable tech. Pretty much a subject you can't avoid at this point, as the demand for such products keeps increasing with each new wearable gadget release. Although I'm still not entirely on board, or at least I haven't been thus far, it's still an interesting development to keep tabs on - especially considering this smartphone slump I feel that we're in right now. The one piece of wearable tech that has caught my eye so far is Ring, the "Yer A Wizard Harry"-esque Bluetooth remote that you wear on your finger. But when it comes to smartwatches, I've been less than impressed at this point.
I'm not quite sure what it is about them that makes me uninterested. Perhaps it's the fact that I feel I already pay too much attention to my smartphone as is, or perhaps it's just that the quality and features of smartwatches haven't exactly wowed me into thinking I really need one right now. Thus far we've seen iterations come from Pebble, Samsung, Sony, Qualcomm, and more, but today we learned of a couple of new contenders that plan to enter the ring with a new smartwatch platform, called Android Wear.
So far, we already know of two manufacturers with Android Wear devices in the works: Motorola with their Motorola Moto 360, and LG with their G Watch. Although we don't have much to work off of except for a couple of renderings and screenshots from promo videos, we can see that LG takes a more standard approach to their smartwatch design by going with a rectangular face, and Motorola kind of branched off in a different direction and is toying with the idea of a round-face smartwatch. However, the design of the smartwatch generally comes second to the actual functionality of the watch itself, and without a whole lot of official specs to work off of it's really up to what information we can gather from these promo videos to help us figure out whether these are products we actually want when they launch.
Although I haven't been colored impressed thus far when it comes to smartwatches, that doesn't mean something can't come along and catch me by surprise. When I heard about Android Wear, I did begin to wonder if this would be the smartwatch platform that would get me on board. Before I get too carried away, there are some features that need to be present in these Android Wear smartwatches in order to draw me in.
First and foremost, battery life. I can't stress the importance of battery life in a smartwatch enough. I've stated this before, and I'll keep stating it until it becomes a standard: Nobody really wants to charge two devices every night. Most of us already charge our smartphones on a nightly basis whether we end the night with "extra juice" or not, because even with "extra juice" you're probably not going to make it through an entire second day of normal to moderate usage without a nightly charge. This is something that Pebble has gotten right with their smartwatch, but it seems that nobody else really gets because they're too focused on software. Without great battery life, any smartwatch is not worth throwing the money down for in my opinion.
The second thing, which looks like Android Wear plans to implement, is a large number of touchless controls. I'm starting to appreciate what touchless controls can do, and with a screen as small as the one on smartwatches they're pretty much a necessity in order to get the most out of it. The fact that Android Wear works with Google Now makes me think that any Android Wear smartwatch will be heavily based on voice control.
The last thing is support for all major platforms, which probably won't be an issue. I switch between platforms often and if I did decide to spring for a smartwatch I wouldn't want to only be able to use it with just one platform. Google seems pretty good about providing support for iOS devices at least, but I really wish Microsoft and Google would figure their stuff out because I rely heavily on Google Services, and I like Windows Phone UI, but I can't use both together. (Seriously though, can these two pull a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and get their chocolate in the other's peanut butter or something?) Still, I guess if we can at least get two or three out of four operating systems in there it's better than just limiting the watch to Android, which Google could do and still probably garner a good chunk of cash from it.
Even if Android Wear manages to implement all of these things, I'm not entirely sure I would beyond the shadow of a doubt be interested in purchasing a smartwatch of my own; for some reason I'm still not convinced they will be the end of smartphones, as some are saying (mostly for privacy issues - there are some texts that I'm certain people don't want to dictate out loud in public, which seems like the only real way to send a text with smartwatches right now). Plus, smartphones just allow for a lot more to get done. Still, I can see the draw to smartwatches for some people, and it is interesting to see where they're going.
What are your thoughts on Android Wear, readers? Do these initial videos and concepts for Android Wear smartwatches draw you in, or are you still waiting for something else to come along to spark your interest? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Image via The Next Web