Despite some advances, Android Wear 2.0 is not progress
Android Wear has been out for a while now. I’m a bit late to the party – totally get that. But I just got an LG Watch Style and I’ve been sporting it for a couple of weeks now. I like the watch, itself. It has a nice build and it’s, well, stylish, but Android Wear 2.0 keeps driving me up a bit of a wall, and I just wanted to clear the air. There has been some Android Wear progress, but I’ve had a few issues with the operating system and a few tweaks could really help.
First, I’d like to say, that I love the way Android Wear 2.0 handles things like emails. The archive control is front and center, and since I archive a lot, that’s important to me. I don’t have to struggle with notifications like I’ve had to on Android Wear 1.5. The new UI is nice, keeping your app list out of the way, along the left side of the watch. All neat things, but while we’re on the topic, let’s talk about that list of apps.
The world is full of right-handed people. The world is less full of left handed people. I’m weird. I’m a righty who wears my watch on my right wrist. It’s a long story. Anyway, as I was saying the app list running along the left side of the screen is really convenient for keeping your hand out of the way while scrolling through the list – unless you’re wearing the watch on your right hand. Then, your hand is still getting in the way.
Android Wear 2.0 needs a left-handed mode. Granted, it’s not a 50/50 split. Left handers represent only ten percent of the population. With me, it’s ten percent plus one, but our lefties (which include my brother and my dad by the way) need some love from Android Wear developers. Get on it, and make ¾ of my family happy!
Oops, I can’t do that now
Google Assistant on Android 2.0 is also really great – or so I’ve heard. You see, I wouldn’t know about that because Google Assistant hasn’t worked on my watch from day one. It launches, accepts my commands, it even goes to the trouble of writing them out on the screen. Then, it says “Oops! I can’t do that right now.” Every time for everything. It’s really irritating.
The only solution I have found online is to factory reset the phone to get it to work. I’m not a normal use case. I factory reset phones all the time as part of my job. But the normal everyday Joe who’s reading this probably doesn’t. For them, that advice sucks. I haven’t gotten around to it yet because I had to move on to a different device for review. But when I go back, I’m going to have to factory reset that thing. That shouldn’t ever be the answer. If Google wants its Assistant to succeed, that can’t be the answer.
(Editor’s note: After this writing, I did connect the watch to a second phone, and Assistant works fine)
Finally, Android Wear really wants you to dive into your watch faces, and customize them with those fancy complications. Awesome. But Google actually made it too easy to do that. With the watch face on, all you have to do is tap or swipe the screen, and you can customize that mother like nothing else. That’s awesome, except – and this may be a function of the watch itself – Android Wear hasn’t figured out how to not register accidental touches. I find myself on a different watch face twice a day at least. An errant swipe is all it takes to suddenly have a different face. An errant tap, and you’re monitoring your steps instead of your battery.
The part that kills me is that most of that is basic stuff. Put in a left-handed mode. Don’t make it so easy to change watch faces. Don’t make me reset my phone. Well, maybe that last one isn’t so easy. But these are all basic things that the average user is going to run into, and at least two out of the three would be deal breakers for many.
I love Android Wear. I love smartwatches. I want them to succeed. I want them to get better and stronger and faster. We have the technology. But we will never get there if we trip out of the starting gate with simple issues that shouldn’t be issues. Maybe we’ll have better luck with Android 2.1. I really want to brag about my watch again.