Android Wear: What Was Google Thinking?

September 24, 2014

I finished my post on why I love my Moto 360 without talking about what Google got wrong with Android Wear. Android Wear is the Operating System for not only the Moto 360 but most of the other recent smart watches. It begs the question, Google, what were you thinking?

But I Don’t Want to Track My Steps

As I talked about before, Android Wear is really the Google Now Watch. Most days, Cubs scores (do I really want to know?), how many minutes to work, flight delays, and other useful information pop up on the watch. All of that I can turn off.

But what about the pedometer? When I take the phone off the charger, it reminds me that I’ve taken 0 steps today. And then beginning around 5pm, it updates me about every 20 minutes about my current step count.

To save battery life, I’ve love to turn off some of the sensors that I don’t want/use. Oddly, it doesn’t appear to be an option.

Text Sent: Hold On, I’ll Be Right There

There are two problems with talking to your watch:

  • Every time you’re talking to your watch, someone will yell for you and you’ll break from your dictation. And with Android Wear, when you finish talking, the text or email goes out. (To be fair, there is a way to cancel it while you’re sending it, but at that point, I’ve turned my head to see who is calling me.)
  • On the Moto 360, when you touch the screen, it brings up the voice interface. You bump the screen, all of the sudden you’re commanding the watch to do something. Usually I look at my watch and see a Wikipedia entry for a group of words I recently said. To date, I’ve never accidentally sent anything.

To Google’s credit, the voice recognition is fantastic. Words that typically wouldn’t work on my Samsung Galaxy S5 are translated perfectly via the Moto 360. Even on noisy streets.

Android Wear Is Not Responding: Wait or Kill

You’ve likely seen this message on your Android phone. (I’m looking at you Facebook app.) Back to the pedometer, when I swipe away my steps for the 8th time in a night, the screen goes black and… wait for it… I have to kill Android Wear.

I find that I reboot the watch about as often as I reboot the phone. That said, I probably rebooted my Pebble just as many times. (Particularly funny is when the Pebble would get into a vibrate loop where the only way to stop the watch from vibrating was to reboot it.)

Version 2.0 and Beyond

What you see with all of the above issues is the typical early adopter complaints. What I do see is an incredibly powerful foundation for building connected gadgets. It’s so easy for developers to add commands and extend functionality of their apps on to the watch, I’m excited what next month and next year will bring to the platform.

In the meantime, Ok Google, Call for a car.