20/09/2015 By Dirk 0

Insights into Android Wear

When the first smart watches started appearing on the market about two years ago (yes, they did exist before Apple’s entry into that market), I wasn’t sure I’d ever use this new form of mobile experience.

Since mid August, however, I’ve been an owner of a Moto360. It’s not the newest watch but the decision was made after long considerations, weighing off size, weight and support for new features. It seemed the right size, looking good and up for the task.

How’s my experience so far been ?

Well, quite positive, actually.

To provide some background, let me say that I haven’t used a watch for many years. I don’t use its time function and placing a watch on my wrist feels somewhat weird. So any smart watch had to provide some useful functionality, more than just being pretty in looks.

Notifications, however, were never enough. A Pebble watch has been providing such function for years now. And recently, I tested another watch, aiming at providing simple notifications, apart from looking great.

So what other functions do I end up using on my Android watch?

First of all, I extended the Storica application towards Android Wear support – quite easy to do since Android Wear is essentially a full blown Android with specific design guidelines. Now, I can annotate events and my mood right from the watch. That’s great and saves me time but also encourages me to annotate more – an extension that increases the usefulness for my watch. I can also measure my heart rate, although the watch sensors are inherently unreliable and often show no result! Last but not least, I can stop recording without taking my phone out.

A second usage is for store cards. Instead of taking my phone out, I can use my watch to have various store cards scanned for loyalty points. Slightly geeky but always a good smile in a store. It works surprisingly well!

Other usages are still notifications. Not just seeing what SMS or hangout I got but sometimes even responding with preset short responses. Voice dictation works on and off, not really a serious alternative yet.

There are a few other things that could be interesting. For instance, Google Translate allows for net-assisted translation, even turning the responses on their head, allowing for conversing with somebody via looking at your watch. Funny but will need to wait for roaming charges to decrease (one of those services which would benefit from the EU’s plans to curtail roaming charges and therefore enable more digital services abroad).

Will I continue to use my watch?

I sure will! It’s got its usages and I got used to wearing a watch again. But it needs its usefulness beyond being the latest gadget!