If you’re anything like me, you’ve been drooling over the idea of Android Wear since the middle of March. I was a few minutes from publishing an article about how the Google smartwatch could make me regret my Pebble Steel order, Google made its smartwatch platform, Android Wear, official. A handful of hardware manufacturers also announced they would be partners in Google’s new wearable venture – Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola, and Samsung.
There were some demonstration videos which showed some basic functions of Android Wear, and Google released a developer preview of the new Android Wear SDK. Motorola and LG followed-up with some product confirmations of the Moto 360 and G Watch, respectively, both lacking any sort of helpful details.
All we walked away with that day in March were left only with the images of the Moto 360 and G Watch in our minds and thousands of pressing questions. Will Android Wear run applications? What will the use beyond notifications be like? How much will the hardware cost? When will they be available.
Today, we got some of those answers. We got to see some extended Android Wear functionality. The Samsung Gear Live and LG G Watch will both be available for purchase today, and the Moto 360 will be available later this summer – no pricing was revealed for any of the watches. But as the Android Wear segment of Google I/O 2014 unfolded, I had only one reaction: “Yes. YES. YES!”
Here are five reasons I want Android Wear and the Moto 360!
Classic, svelte appearance
The Pebble Steel was a quantum leap in the right direction. It looks a feels solid, just like any other luxury watch. Yet while it looks significantly better, it’s not the prettiest watch I’ve ever laid eyes on. I often find myself groaning over the limitations of the low-res, black and white display.
Meanwhile, the Moto 360, which made a brief cameo during the I/O 2014 keynote, has a circular, color display. The circular shape gives it a classic timepiece look. And the watch face demonstrated on stage made the Moto 360 look like any other watch – much more so than the Pebble Steel. If you’re after a smartwatch that is easily disguised as a normal watch, the Moto 360 is far closer than any of its competitors.
All the below features go for any Android Wear device, but I specifically prefer the appearance of the Moto 360.
Fully-functioning, wrist-mounted Google Now
I’ve said since the beginning that Google Now support is the one thing Pebble is missing. Sure, you can get Google Now notifications on Pebble, but not at your own beckon call – only when Google feels you need them. And without a microphone or touch input, what you can do with those notifications is quite limited.
Google Now is one of the main driving points of Android Wear. It will seamlessly deliver notifications and relevant information directly to your wrist – restaurant suggestions, weather, stocks, distance to frequented locations, package tracking, and more.
You an also create quick reminders from the Moto 360 using the inbuilt microphone. Using the power of Google Now, saying words like “home” in your command will automatically create a geofence for your reminders.
Notification sync and actions
Another shortcoming of Pebble is how limited your ability to act on notifications from Pebble is. There are third-party apps which allow you to send short, pre made responses to text messages. Other than that, you can’t do anything but dismiss those notifications, and even if you do, they stay alive and well on the phone.
It’s not a huge ordeal, but the ability to dismiss notifications on Android Wear and them also dismiss on your phone is a nice touch.
In the same vein, you can also act on those notifications. You can dictate quick responses to messages in Hangouts.
Pebble comes with its own appstore with over 3,200 applications available. That’s an amazing feat on Pebble’s part. But one of the worst features of the Pebble experience is application management. The Pebble OS 2.0 update brought along the Locker feature in the iOS and Android versions of the update, where you can store all of the apps which don’t fit on your Pebble.
You have to manually download applications, edit the settings for them (where applicable), and swap them for more important applications in the Locker when you reach your (low) eight-app limit.
With Android Wear devices, if the smartphone application is compatible with Android Wear, the smartwatch application will automatically install when the app is downloaded to the phone. In other words, you don’t have to worry about downloading two apps or managing two devices, just what’s installed on the phone.
This seamless installation is how applications on a smartwatch should be handled – no additional input from the user.
Quick Google searches
Finally, one thing I use my phone for more than anything is performing quick Google searches for … practically everything. I’m always looking things up, searching for answers, and performing simple, quick Google searches from my phone. It may take some getting used to, but the ability to ping Google with a question without reaching for my phone will be a feature I will use religiously for conversions, simple math problems, and other simple Google searches.
It’s like taking Touchless Control from the Moto X one step further by bolting it on your wrist.
Between looking up answers or searching for recipes within some of the watch apps, Android Wear and the Moto 360 appear to be exactly what I’ve been looking for out of a wrist-mounted device – the perfect balance of functionality and aesthetics.
What say you, folks? Are you looking forward to Android Wear? Or do you think you’ll stick with one of its existing competitors? And is it Moto 360, LG G Watch, or Samsung Gear Live for you?
Images via Google I/O 2014 keynote livestream