Smartwatches powered by Google’s Android Wear operating system are starting to show up on wrists across the world. Right now people are starting to get used to the idea of notifications showing up on their watch, and beginning to see the utility of talking back to it to get things done — even though it still looks a little weird.
With a relatively limited number of apps in the Play Store, Power Users everywhere are itching to see what the hardware can do. As such, developers are starting to go down the road to rooting. That’s what I recently did.
Here’s why I rooted my LG G Watch, what I’ve learned, and what you can do if you’re interested in rooting your LG G Watch.
Why root the LG G Watch
The first, and most important reason to root any device, not just the LG G Watch, is “because we can”. Many don’t see the liberating power behind that statement, but trust me when I say that leading off with this reason is entirely appropriate.
Next, let’s talk actual benefits, shall we?
Rather than talking about theoretical benefits (sure, we all want to run CyanogenMod on our watch, but that’s just not available yet — and don’t you dare ask for an ETA!), let’s talk about actual, tangible things that you can get today.
To the best of my knowledge, there is only one “custom ROM” available for the LG G Watch today, though I’m sure many more will follow. As this particular ROM improves, additional features will undoubtedly be added, and as new ROMs are released we’ll certainly see even more benefits. As of this writing, here’s what you can expect.
The ROM I took for a spin is called “Gohma gwatch 1.0” and is already up to “preview 7”.
So far, this custom ROM does the following:
- increases vibration duration and intensity a little
- improves battery usage from vibration
- improves touch responsiveness
- contains various tweaks to improve battery life (noticeably better than stock)
- contains various “surprises”
I barely made it through my first few days with the LG G Watch (which I lovingly pronounce “gwa-tch”) without hitting the charger at least a couple times. The battery just isn’t big enough! Or so I thought. I had just come from a Pebble smartwatch with a battery that got me through at least 7 days (but not 8).
When I was introduced to Gohma it sounded too good to be true: better performance and better battery life? Not likely.
I took the plunge, unlocked my “gwatch” and flashed the ROM. I didn’t notice much right away, but in the days since I’ve been running it (updating to the latest preview versions as they’ve come out), I’ve been really impressed.
Screens transition smoother and more fluidly than before, and battery life is up to two full days. Overall, I’m impressed. So much so, that I’d suggest anyone with a “gwatch” give it a shot.
How to root the LG G Watch
As with all rooting processes and procedures, the first step is to assume the risk. You could turn that fancy watch into a worthless bracelet. I didn’t, but you might. Proceed at your own risk, just like I did.
Next, head to the settings on the watch and unlock “developer mode” just like you would on an Android-powered smartphone. That will let you enable ADB debugging. Connect the watch to it’s charging pad, and make sure the pad is connected to your computer. From there, install the USB drivers and fire up an ADB window. You’ll know everything’s working if you type adb devices and get a serial number followed by “device” returned. If not, you’ve got some work to do before moving on.
Next, reboot into fastboot mode by typing adb reboot-bootloader . From there, just like you would do with your smartphone or tablet, type fastboot oem unlock . Also, just like on your other devices, this will factory reset your device, erasing everything, including you steps count.
Now you’ll need to re-enable Developer Mode and turn ADB debugging back on.
From there, download and extract the latest version of Gohma, and run windows_installer (or the installer that’s appropriate for your OS). Follow the on-screen prompts and you’re done! Keep in mind that the first boot will take SIGNIFICANTLY longer than any other boot, but once it does you’ll have root, and all the other benefits baked in!
Links to the USB drivers, the latest build of Gohma, and an even more detailed walk-through are available from RootzWiki.
With many custom ROMs, it’s a fun adventure, but a race to get back to stock. That’s not the case with the Gohma ROM for the LG G Watch. I’ve got a feeling that this is going to remain my daily driver for a good, long time!