Wednesday, October 08, 2014

My smart time has come

I totally get it

I had stopped using my Swatch after the Android wear was announced. I wanted to know what is it to not use a watch before jumping on the smart-watch bandwagon. I wanted to know if my watch was just an ornament?

I did miss it at times especially when I was out. I had to pull my phone out to see the time and missed knowing the time just by glance. So the reason I pulled my phone out other than making a call or messaging someone was to look at the time and go through the notifications. This was exactly the pain point that was solved when I started using the LG G Watch. I could check the time and also the notifications and use my phone far less than before.

The Good

  1. I’m glad that it doesn’t do too many things. It shows notifications from all the apps on my phone and I can also act on them. Then there are Watch specific apps that can also write into my notification feed based on context. That’s it! I can't or wouldn't want to compose a new email on my watch nor do I want to play games on it.
  2. The voice actions are good but I'm not sure if I will end up using any. But the way it’s designed is so ‘right’!
  3. As I now check my phone fewer times, the battery lasts longer. Earlier the battery on my phone would usually drain out by 7 p.m, but now at the same time it’s at 50% battery.
  4. I have this habit of leaving my phone at the desk and going around discussing things at work. Now when I get a call, I can reject the call on the watch and run back to the phone only if it is absolutely necessary.
  5. I also like the way it tells me that ‘it’s time to go home’. I used to miss this Google Now notification on the phone previously, but now it’s magical.

The Bad

  1. My LG G Watch is given by my office as a reference device. Even LG calls it a Developer’s reference device. It looks like a toy watch. But I’m not sure if it’s worth paying 17k for a better looking Moto 360 for what it can do. I bought my Swatch for 6k and used it for around 7 years and it’s still working. I agree the Moto can do way more than the Swatch, but if I switch to the smart-watch bandwagon; I will have to buy a new watch along with a phone every 2 years. That’s kind of ridiculous, isn't it?
  2. The “OK Google” hotword has never worked for me. It may help me in making a call when I’m driving as my phone is locked. But I expect Android L to fix some of these pain points.

Yeah, I couldn't think of any more.

What I missed

  1. A hardware button to get to the home screen / watch-face quicker is what I missed the most! I’m not sure if the buttons on the Moto 360 and LG R Watch can do this.
  2. There should be a way to put my phone on silent from the watch.

Final thoughts

If the only real value proposition of a smart watch is to notify me at the right time, then I think the Pebble would do it better than Android Wear watches. Of course the hardware looks shitty and the interface is not rich but I think there is something fundamentally right about their e-paper approach. The non-touch interface is functional and works with both iOS and Android (not a deciding factor though). Also the battery lasts for a week and it’s cheaper too. I think if the Pebble hardware goes through a serious design overhaul, support round and good looking watch-faces, then it has a very good chance of winning this race.

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