A whole 7 days have passed and this puppy hasn't left my hand yet, except to shower, even though it is water resistant. And one thing is for certain, the amount of time that is spent looking at my phone has drastically decreased. Maybe it's because of the novelty of the whole thing, or maybe it's because half the notifications I get really can be ignored, but the phone has found less and less time in my hands. So far it feels great having all of my notifications a snap of the wrist away.
I still have the tendency to run to my phone on it's charger whenever I hear that a notification has come in instead of just staring down, but I'm sure that will subside completely with more use. The most surprising use so far has been as an actual watch. Normally when I wear my standard mechanical watch it is usually off by hours as I get too lazy to correct the time, but I wear it because it looks good. Now, I can actually just stare down and there it is, in it's digital glory. A big part of the watch saving you time is probably due to the fact that you can't do much with the watch unless Android Wear sees fit to show you something that may be of interest. Which makes sense, because on such a tiny screen it would be difficult to do much else. With that you don't find yourself scrolling aimlessly through pictures, or emails or news stories that just so happen to be on your phone's homescreen widgets.
The heart of the watch. Notifications so far have been the primary use of the watch. They come in quickly enough and are cleared in a single swipe. Pretty convenient, especially when your phone is half a room away charging and you hear that familiar chime signifying human contact. Having said that, there are still many limitations. For example on many messaging apps, the only action that can be taken for incoming messages is to open the message on the phone, while getting a half a sentence snippet in the process. Which I guess saves time, since by the time I get my phone out and enter my locking pattern. my message is right there waiting. And this is by no means a problem that has to do with the watch itself, but more of apps attempting to adapt to Android Wear. Gmail actually shows almost a full text version of your email which is pretty cool. The Yahoo mail app just shows a sample, as do other messaging apps.
So far still not too many apps have showed up on the market. From what I can see here there are about 36 apps that are Android Wear compatible. Google Maps has pretty useful cards such as time of arrival and a map of the current traffic pattern, which definitely comes in handy. And it's best feature turn by turn navigation. The watch also comes with a built in compass, for all your path finding needs and the Fit app which keeps track of your daily steps.
Runtastic Running & Fitness
With the Runtastic app you can start, pause and stop a run right on your watch without taking your phone out. You can also view your current details, such as time, calories burned and distance traveled. For now it's mainly limited to that, but I would hope that in future updates you would be able to choose the type of run and maybe have more information available as well.
My favorite of all the language learning applications. Duolingo came out of the gates with an Android Wear update of their very own. The app syncs with the phone of course, and it's set up like a mini game. It asks the user to translate a word or phrase in the current setup language the user has on their phone, and then after a timer countdown asks you if you translated it correctly or not. Nothing too fancy, but good to see that they're embracing the technology from the start.
With the Google Keep note taking app you can view all of the notes that you currently have on your phone. If you have lists set up you can check off items, and you can even add new items using your voice. Very response app, and very quick and clean layout.
So far the biggest hassle has been to simply just open an app from the tucked away app drawer. The same can be said for settings, which requires you to tap once to open the "Ok Google" screen, then scroll upwards until you reach "Settings" which is located all the way at the bottom. The more annoying part though is that you have to scroll through a long of sample voice commands that you may want to communicate to the watch. You could always just say "Ok Google: Start" however, and have your apps just show up, but maybe I'm not comfortable with my voice in public talking to objects just yet. A nice double tap to drawer feature would be nice.
Navigation and GPS
One of the main features for me. Instant navigation whenever you need it. The main downside of this is that the phone itself has to be turned on in order for GPS to function properly, which means an unlocked and live phone in your pocket somewhere. Google added the nifty feature of also adding a small traffic map on the watch, which just makes the app that much more useful. It does take an extra second or two for the cards on the watch to update however, but it's going to space! Let's give it a second to get back from space!
Quick Tip: If you're not getting turn by turn navigation updates on your watch, be sure to check the muted apps list on your phone. By default for me, Google Maps was added to that list, which was preventing turn by turn navigation to work.
This is the one place where the watch falls short and you feel it. Sometimes I work late into the night, and as such I forget to place the watch into it's charging cradle when I go to bed. And after a week, it has yet to make it to the morning uncharged, which means if I have somewhere to go when I wake up, I'll have to go without my handy watch assistant. The only plus side to this is that the battery charges to full in about 30-40 minutes, which is pretty impressive as even my electric toothbrush takes half a day. If you charge it at night, for 30 minutes, with moderate use it will definitely last you the entire day after, but with heavier use such as running apps and using the turn by turn navigation features, I don't see it lasting past 6pm. Turning it off at night definitely helps, however in order to turn the phone back on from "off" state, you need to place in on it's cradle.
Can I Wear It All Day Long?
The most I've worn it outside is about 4 hours, and it gets hot under there I'll say. While there was no discomfort after hours of wear, you will notice it on a hot day. Of course, if you choose to you can always swap out the bands with your 22mm version. I kinda fancy myself with the one that the watch came with, so I'll continue to get used to it for now. It does stand out though as I've had many people stop and ask me about it.
The LG G Watch is a good smartwatch, just as I'm sure the Gear Live and Moto 360 are. The heart of the device lies in application compatibility and Android Wear. It has both it's ups and downs, ups being the instant notification and downs the less than lackluster battery life. It's still new territory for wearables and as such early adopters know what they're getting themselves into. But in that same light, early adopters will be the ones that get to play with all those new nifty apps that are sure to come out later this year.
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Walter G. is a software engineer, startup co-founder, former CTO of several tech companies and currently teaches programming for a coding bootcamp. He has been blogging for the past 5 years and is an avid BMX rider, bio-hacker
and performance enthusiast.