No more rumors, no more mysteries (well, except for the elusive Moto 360), no more questions and no more speculation. The first Android Wear smartwatches are here, are square, get used to it. Yeah, you too snarky haters in the back acting like you know better and would never touch a fugly wearable piece with a ten-foot pole.
Remember how rookie Android “smartphone” efforts looked back in the day? They were absolutely disgusting. So be sure to cut Samsung and LG designers some slack. They’re just starting to feel their target audience, and need a few months, one, maybe two years to deliver beauties on-par with, say, the Galaxy Note 3 or LG G3.
And granted, the Android Wear OS still screams “work in progress”. In a bad way. But need I remind you of Android 1.0, 1.1, 1.5, 1.6, 2.0, 2.2, 2.3, heck, even 4.0 at the very beginning? Fret not, it ain’t going to take Google so long this time around to reach the smoothness, sheer simplicity and beauty of KitKat.
My guess is by version 2.0, 3.0, worst case scenario, Wear will have blossomed into this cohesive, sleek, powerful ecosystem of its own, separate of the Android smartphone experience yet in line with Big G’s overall direction.
So you see, boarding the Android wearable bandwagon at this stage is an act of courage, a way for us all to support a bold initiative that’s perhaps a few years away from hitting maturity. But make no mistake, the future of tech is in projects like Wear. For now, let’s focus on the present and check out what the Samsung Gear Live, LG G Watch and Motorola Moto 360 are all about:
Samsung Gear Live – everything you need to know
Availability: up for pre-orders on Google Play starting today, shipping July 7, coming to Amazon and Best Buy on July 7 too
Specs and features:
- 1.63-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen with 320 x 320 pixels resolution
- Dual-core 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor
- 512 MB RAM
- 4 GB internal storage space
- Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity
- Accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, heart rate monitor
- IP67 certification for dust and water resistance
- 300 mAh battery
- Google Now, Google Voice, Google Maps, Gmail, Hangouts pre-loaded
- 37.9 x 56.4 x 8.9 mm dimensions; 59 grams weight
- Color options: black and wine red
- Compatibility with smartphones running Android 4.3 or up
Well, they’ve done it again. Shrewd Samsung played mind games with both their rivals and Android geeks, making it seem like they’ll be sitting a Wear round out when in fact they’ll be the ones to first ship a gadget with the fledgling OS pre-loaded. Beautifully done, Sammy.
True, if you ask me, the Gear Live is uglier than the G Watch and a lot uglier than the Moto 360. Also, it’s way too similar to Tizen-running second-gen Gears. But at the end of the day, the low price may carry more weight than the dubious design.
LG G Watch – information roundup
Availability: pre-orders live in 12 Play Store branches, including the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, South Korea and Japan; shipping starts July 7; coming soon to retailers in 27 additional markets (Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, etc., etc.)
Specs and features:
- 1.65-inch always-on LCD IPS panel with 280 x 280 pixels resolution
- Dual-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 400 chip
- 512 MB RAM/4 GB storage
- 400 mAh battery
- Bluetooth 4.0 support
- Gyroscope, accelerometer, compass
- IP67 certified for protection against water and dust
- 37.9 x 46.5 x 9.95 mm dimensions; 63 grams weight
- White gold and black titan paint jobs
- 22 mm changeable strap
- Compatible with Android 4.3 and up smartphones
So let me get this straight, LG. Aside from taking more than three months to get the G Watch ready, you’re asking 30 bucks north of Samsung for… 100 mAh extra battery juice? All while snubbing the gimmicky but useful for some heart rate monitor and, most importantly, offering a less crisp display with sub-par 280 x 280 pix res? Sorry to be so blunt, but are you on crack?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, the G Watch is a smidge more elegant, at least in my book, but it’s both thicker and heavier than the Gear Live. Nuh-uh, this won’t stand, I’m sorry. Slash the price down to $200, maybe $180, and try again.
Motorola Moto 360 – enough with the secrecy already!
Price: probably $250. Probably.
Availability: “later this summer” on Google Play
Specs and features:
- Circular design
- OLED screen (of some kind)
- Sapphire glass protection (hopefully)
- Compatible with Android 4.3 and up devices
Okay, Google (get it?), I think we’ve been patient enough. I mean, we understand, it’s a lot more complicated to produce a round wearable piece, and so waiting until, say, August to see it go up for grabs isn’t a problem.
But waiting without knowing anything is. Throw us a bone, price tags, measurements, the CPU’s make and model, whatever. Oh, and make the prototype hands-on (wrist-on?) videos stop. They’re just too painful to watch.
Third-party Android Wear apps – the promising beginning of a beautiful platform
I’m sure you all know by now Android Wear is extremely Google Now-centric. Everything revolves around notifications and cards, plus, obviously, the rest of Google’s services: Maps, Gmail, Hangouts, etc.
But a handful of base applications does not a solid OS make. Enter PayPal, Pinterest, Soundwave, Eat24, Allthecooks and Lyft, the first third-party apps developed specifically, or rather forked, to work on your wrist.
The neat thing is, once you synchronize a smartphone to an Android Wear smartwatch, the former automatically sends the latter the equivalents of apps installed on your handheld. As for the six mentioned above, they’re pretty straightforward but no doubt handy.
Paypal lets you, well, pay things and transfer money with your wrist, Pinterest notifies you when a previously pinned location is nearby, with Soundwave you can easily share music, Allthecooks is a neat little culinary assistant, Eat24 is dedicated to food delivery services, and Lyft can give you a lift in seconds.
So yeah, nothing spectacular, but baby steps in the right direction. Agreed? No? Disappointed with what Google showcased so far in terms of Android Wear software and hardware? Sound off your likes and dislikes below.