For almost a month, a personal iPhone 6 Plus lay abandoned on a shelf, and an Android smartphone took its place — this is a record. I have done similar experiments before with a complete move to an alternative platform (for example, once and twice), but I had enough for a maximum of a couple of weeks. The reasons for such experiments are different, and one of them for the last move was a smart watch based on Android Wear. I wrote about the capabilities of this platform and the most popular device based on it in the Moto 360 review, and now I would like to talk about those pitfalls that reviewers are usually silent about due to little experience with the device or for other reasons.
Why seek adventure on your own head?
Readers have often seen in my articles the phrase that “better iPhone can only be a new iPhone«I was and remain a fan of this smartphone. The question arises — why then am I always looking for some alternatives? You don’t have to look far for examples, just remember the recent stories with Sony Xperia Z Ultra, Huawei MediaPad X1 7 or Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4.
Well, it’s a reasonable question. The purpose of my first experiment with Android in 2010 was to study this platform, about which commentators said so many good things, and in general — you need to know the enemy in person. With the «enemy» I exaggerate, of course. In fact, I have always been and remain open to everything new, I managed to work closely with Symbian, with Windows Mobile, Windows CE and even with Maemo OS. It’s interesting to me, like the gadgets themselves. Gadgetmania is a terrible but very fascinating disease.
So, the result of the first experiment was disappointment. Hardware Samsung Galaxy S, of course, was cooler than the iPhone 3GS, but there were many questions about the software component. And then the iPhone 4 happened, and the Galaxy S became uninteresting, like the Android OS itself, which was far behind iOS in terms of usability at that moment.
Then appeared Galaxy S II — one of the most successful smartphones in the entire line in terms of the totality of characteristics. I will not hide it, I was more interested in the hardware component than the software component — a large Super AMOLED Plus display with a full-fledged RGB pixel scheme, minimal thickness and weight, high performance. The toy pleased for a couple of weeks (that’s how much I went with it as with the main smartphone), until the Android jambs of those times began to annoy again. As a result, it was used relatively actively for a couple of months, after which it went to the shelf, and then found a new owner
The first generation Galaxy Note was a real breakthrough for its time, and Samsung itself did not expect such a success. I literally fell in love with this device even at the time of its announcement for one simple reason — even then I wanted to have a full replacement for the tablet, which you can always carry with you.
I also dragged it for a couple of weeks as the main smartphone, but in the end I returned to iOS again and breathed a sigh of relief. After that, I always used the rest of the Android devices as secondary gadgets until I met the Moto 360.
The very idea of a smart watch did not grab me right away and, for example, Pebble passed by because of its “rattle” look. Yes, and somehow embarrassed push-button control, I wanted a sensor, technology and a beautiful color display. When the Moto 360 was announced, the internal gadget lover literally screamed: “Here is it!
Active testing of the device also did not leave me indifferent, but there was no desire to put the main SIM card into the tablet. But in the end, all Android tablets were sold out, and bought in their place One Plus One. Of course, I wanted Nexus 6, but the economic crisis that broke out affected the “internal toad” and it did not allow to splurge on such an expensive “toy”.
Thus, for the sake of being able to fully use smartwatches, I completely moved to Android, which at the moment is already good enough that it can really replace iOS in most cases. For almost a month I have been actively working with the Android Wear platform, the advantages and capabilities of which you all know, and if you don’t know, then read my review of Moto 360. But as for the nuances, they surfaced only after such a long operating experience, supplemented by previous tests with others Android devices. I would like to talk about the nuances, since I have not seen any explicit mention of them in the reviews, and ordinary users are unlikely to pick specialized forums.
What Android Wear is silent about
In ads for smartwatches based on Android Wear, they show a lot of beautiful shots, they say, with them you can speak, set an alarm clock, make notes and create other goodies. Experience shows that voice control leaves much to be desired. In a noisy place, the watch simply does not recognize what you are trying to say to it, and in a quiet place it is easier to get a smartphone and do everything the old fashioned way. I made notes in Google Keep with my voice a couple of times, found out the weather several times and set an alarm once — that was the end of my voice experience with Android Wear, since it was all rather crookedly implemented. It’s faster to get a smartphone and do everything on it than to dictate something to the clock with your voice. Oh, yes — do not forget that for voice recognition you need a good Internet connection, at least a high-quality 3G signal. In Ukraine, it doesn’t smell like this yet, and even on the more or less fast Intertelecom channel, the clock often thought for a long time when recognizing speech.
The second strange feature Android Wear devices — they work differently with different smartphones. For example, with the Nexus 6 and Galaxy Tab S 8.4, Motorola’s smartwatches mostly functioned flawlessly, although maybe I just didn’t use them much with these gadgets. In turn, with OnePlus One, they lost contact from time to time. That is, it says on the watch that everything is OK, there is a connection, the smartphone also had an inscription that Android Wear is connected, but notifications on Moto 360 do not come. You turn them off, plug them in — no effect. Only restarting the clock helped.
The third feature stems from the second — This is a loss of communication with the smartphone during some kind of manipulation. That is, sometimes this happened on its own (usually once every couple of days), which I described above, sometimes after certain actions. This happened to me most often when I deleted a letter through a smart watch. It happened that the clock immediately wrote, they say, there was some kind of error and after that the notifications did not reach them anymore. And it happened that a green circle with a checkmark appeared, they say, everything is OK, but the connection between the watch and the smartphone was imperceptibly interrupted. Because of these jokes, I missed calls and important messages (the phone is usually in the bag, and I was in a noisy atmosphere, it was hard to hear something, so I counted on the smart watch and its vibration).
Fourth Feature — strange operation of the music player control panel. Android-wear allows you to switch tracks, start and stop playback, change the volume. Sometimes this remote control started to blunt — you switch the track, but nothing happens. You press a couple more times, and then the player jumps immediately through a couple of songs. It happened that at such moments the remote control began to go crazy and randomly pause, start playback, switch songs. Restarting the clock helped. For a month, the remote control went crazy five times. Perhaps this glitch is connected with the very loss of communication between devices, which I wrote about above, but the remote control still continued to respond to my actions, that is, the connection seems to be there, but it is strange.
In general, only notifications and the ability to respond to some of them are really functional in Android Wear at the moment. Oh, yes, the dials are also cool and changing them is a pleasure. A bunch of applications, some toys and other things for smart watches on Google Play are just tinsel, unnecessary and non-functional in real life.
Yes, notifications and the ability to respond to them after hours are convenient, but in my case, the loss of connection that occurred from time to time in conjunction with OnePlus One was annoying, although this did not happen with the Nexus 6. Voice control can surprise friends and acquaintances, but it is unlikely that you will use it often — it is also just a toy.
Android Wear feels like it has a lot of potential, but it also has a lot of leftovers. A cool idea that lacks a good file refinement. And this very file can be the Apple Watch.
Some people scold Apple, they say, there is no innovation. But if the company does with smart watches the same thing that it did with multimedia tablets — will bring this category of devices to mind and will interest developers in the release of quality applications, this will be a real innovation. If the Apple Watch will just work, really performing the functions assigned to it with high quality, as the iPhone does as a phone, PDA, player, Internet tablet, game console, reader and video player, if their interface is comfortable (which cannot be said about Android Wear), I am ready to pay both $500 and $1000 for them.
But the most important thing in this case is that if Apple succeeds, then Google with Android Wear will follow it. Do you think the Android OS would be as beautiful, well-animated and functional now, would have so many good applications without a powerful competitor? It wouldn’t be that close. Competition is one of the strongest engines of progress. The more interesting Apple Watch turns out to be, the more goodies you will get in your Android Wear smartwatch in the future. Fortunately, in terms of hardware, these devices are made with a big reserve for the future.
Share your experience with Android Wear in the comments, maybe I’m just exaggerating? What if there are some magical apps on Google Play, or am I missing something? By the way, I hope to test Pebble in the near future. Maybe they will be able to somehow brighten up the expectation of the Apple Watch, or they will be more interesting than Android Wear, who knows …