Android Wear smartwatches Q&A: your questions answered
Soon after getting our hands on the first Android Wear smartwatches, the LG G Watch, Samsung Gear Live, and Moto 360, we invited you to ask us anything related to them or to Google's smartwatch platform. Many of our readers took this opportunity and sent us their questions. Today, we give you our answers. Don't forget that if there's anything else you wish to know about Android Wear or any of the aforementioned wearables, you may check out our LG G Watch review and Samsung Gear Live review.
Do we need smartwatches? Most of us do not. Do we want smartwatches? Well, there sure are people out there who would not mind owning a smartwatch – geeks, tech enthusiasts, early adopters, that sort of folks. These guys would gladly spend several hundred bucks just to own the latest tech, and tech companies would be happy to sell it to them. As for the second part of your question, smartwatches aren't likely to withstand the test of time well. Buy a smartwatch today, and much better models will be out just a couple of years later. Assuming that people don't lose interest in them, of course. But that's also the case with smartphones, tablets, and most other gadgets. Also, let's not forget that electronics break rather easily, and we doubt that smartwatches would be an exception.
They use a special Bluetooth LE profile where LE stands for low energy. Currently, there aren't any Android Wear or Samsung Gear smartwatches with SIM card slots, but rumor has it that Samsung might be working on one.
Unless you want one really bad, perhaps waiting for the newer, better Android Wear models would be a good idea. The ones that are already on sale are okay, but the app selection and functionality leave plenty of room for expansion. If the smartwatch trend picks up pace, perhaps we'll have some great smartwatches and smartwatch apps in a year or so.
The LG G Watch and the Samsung Gear Live can still be used for some basic stuff even when they're outside of the phone's range. For example, you can set an alarm, start a timer, and run a few apps that are stored and executed locally, such as the Compass. Also, Google Fit keeps on counting your steps, and the Gear live you can still measure your heart rate without a connection to the phone. Basically, the smartwatches tell time and offer access to some simpler features.
With Android Wear, you can use Google Now straight from your smartwatch, and since Google Now can translate phrases for you, the answer to your question is yes. Here's a video of a pretty lady using her LG G Watch for that particular purpose.
You may change the straps on some smartwatches, such as the LG G Watch, just like you would do with a classic watch.
To turn an LG G Watch on, you either plug in the charging cradle and place the watch on it, or press the reset power on the back for 2 seconds using a pen or a paperclip. The Gear Live has its own power button, which is used for powering the gizmo on or off. The LG G Watch doesn't have a dedicated power key so you have to go to the Settings menu and shut it down from there.
You may speak out your message and it will be converted into text for you. Then you may send it as an SMS or a Hangouts message. This will be possible with BBM and Whatsapp only if their developers build the functionality into their applications. As for calls, the current crop of Android Wear smartwatches let you pick up the call, but since they lack a proper speaker, you still have to talk on your actual phone. You may reject the call if you want to. Newer models may get an earpiece – this should allow us to make proper phone calls on them. On a related note, the Samsung Gear 2 lets you have an actual phone call on it, but it uses Samsung's own operating system, not Android Wear.
From the looks of it, the smartphone receives the notification first, but then quickly sends it over to the watch too. There's a mute option for apps, if you need it. You may also have your smartwatch alert you only when you get a new message in your priority inbox.
The official Android Wear app is available at the Play Store.
Sadly, the two Android Wear smartwatches that we've reviewed so far, namely the LG G Watch and the Samsung Gear Live, need to be recharged daily. The Samsung Gear 2 could last several days between charges. Of course, your mileage will vary depending on your usage, and further software updates may take care of the short battery live of Android Wear smartwatches.
Android Wear comes with Google Fit, which is a health and wellness tracking feature. Sadly, it is still in its infancy. On the Samsung Gear Live, for example, we get the number of steps that we've taken during the day, but that's pretty much it. Samsung has also incorporated a heart rate monitor on this particular smartwatch, but other models, like the LG G Watch, lack a heart rate sensor. It will take time before Google Fit becomes a proper fitness tracking platform.
The answer to both questions is no. In the Google Wear app, there's a "Pair with a new wearable" option, which allows the user to switch between smartwatches while using the same phone, but technically, there's no simultaneous connection at this time.
You can take a look at the list of apps for Android Wear at the dedicated Play Store section. Right now, there are only several dozens of them, but we hope to see their number grow steadily over time. When you download one of these on your phone, it will automatically add itself to a paired Android Wear smartwatch.
You may pick a song with a voice command. Then you may pause the song, or skip to the next or previous one from a screen on the smartwatch itself.
It pushes all notifications to the watch. For example, we were using the Shutterfly app to upload photos from a smartphone to the could. The app sent a notification as soon as each one was uploaded, so the watch also received that. We also get notifications from Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and less popular apps like Shutterfly.