I haven't worn a watch in 15 years, but Android Wear has me reconsidering

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
I haven't worn a watch in 15 years, but Android Wear has me reconsidering
Just to set the stage, I am an extraordinarily practical man, which is an important point of note for this writing, because it informs my decisions on this topic and whether or not my experience will help you to make a decision in the future. If you are someone who has had a longstanding relationships with wristwatches or fashion, my thoughts may not be the most helpful, but I'll do my best. 

I haven't worn a watch in 15 years, because it simply didn't make sense to me. At first, there were clocks in every room I was in (high school and home), then I had a cell phone in my pocket at all times once I went to college, and since then the time was never farther away than my left-front pocket. I was never overly concerned about fashion beyond looking like a functional human who cared enough to clean up in order to leave the possibilities open for potential sexual encounters. Therefore, watches had no aesthetic value nor any practical value for me, so I never wore one. 

A bit over two years ago, technology has finally reached the point where a watch can offer more practical value than just being able to tell the time and the date. At first, the ecosystem was fragmented and built around proprietary options that could offer a certain level of functionality, but nothing truly specialized, and nothing that was more deeply integrated with the devices and services that I already use. Now, we are finally hitting the point of specialization with wearables. Personally, I am deeply involved with the Google ecosystem. I use Google services for essentially everything in my personal and professional life. Beyond that, I am a tinkerer. I love to be able to customize my devices, try new software, and change the fundamental experience I can have. All of that means Android is the platform that offers me the experience that fits my usage and personality. 

Given that, it shouldn't be a surprise that I Android Wear has caught my attention since the first rumors started to arise that Google was working on a wearable platform. I have often jumped on Google products as an early adopter; I've owned multiple Nexus devices, been in beta tests for software, and even owned the original CR-48 Chromebook. As much as I love being in on the ground floor, I wanted to hold out on Android Wear until the Moto 360 was released. I didn't want to have my first experience be with a repurposed Samsung Gear or with the boring LG G Watch. 

New awareness

Unfortunately, my resolve was tested when out to dinner with some Boston-area tech writers, where I was given the chance to borrow a G Watch. I've been using the G Watch every day for the past two weeks, and I have been surprised at how quickly I became used to the device on my wrist. As mentioned, I haven't worn a watch in 15 years, but it is beyond that. I haven't worn any accessory aside from my glasses (which I've had since I was 7) and my wedding ring in that timeframe, no necklaces, no bracelets, nothing. So, it was a very strange experience to feel like something was missing from my body after just a couple of days using the G Watch. It was an awareness I wasn't used to, and it was only the first of many. 

Being constantly aware of the time is nothing new for someone who lives the tech elite life, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Living with Android Wear is to become constantly aware of a number of things you never expected. I personally have a very good sense of direction, but living in the Boston area doesn't teach you to be acutely aware of traffic the way you might if you lived in the Los Angeles area. You obviously know that rush hour will lead to more traffic, and you may start paying attention to schedules for the Red Sox or Celtics to avoid certain areas of the city on certain days, but that's about it. However, because of Android Wear, I am constantly aware of exactly how long it will take me to drive home from wherever I am, which can be quite distracting at first, because it is a new piece of info to learn to ignore until the appropriate moment.


One could argue that all of this info has been on my smartphone in Google Now for a long time now, but the personal connection and direct awareness of that info is very different when it comes to your wrist. If I wanted this info before, I had to pull out my phone, unlock it and launch Google Now or a certain app; but now, that information is available, without prompting, at a glance. Combine the awareness of commute with a constant awareness of the temperature, how many steps I've taken throughout the day, and everything else available on Android Wear, and there is a lot to get used to. In some ways, I'm happy that I've jumped in while the platform is still maturing, because it makes it easier to slowly adjust to the range of new information. It boggles my mind a bit to think of what it will be like for a new user when Android Wear reaches its potential. 

Untapped potential

It shouldn't be a surprise that the majority of my Android Wear time has been spent considering the ultimate potential of devices like this. Smartwatches in general are still finding their way, and there is only the first points of consensus forming in regards to what wearables should be. Given the youth of the Android Wear platform though, Google does have a clear idea of what it wants to see, which is why it is so strange that there is so much untapped potential not just from third party developers, but from Google services specifically. 

As many suspected, Android Wear is essentially Google Now on your wrist, but I was surprised to find myself wanting more Google Now on my wrist. I do get traffic alerts, weather, and shipment alerts (no sports because I only really pay attention to the NBA, which is not in season), but I have been surprised to find bouts of bad information coming to my wrist. Just last night, I got a notification claiming that the TV show Homeland was coming back today (August 31st) at 9:36PM. The first problem there is that the Homeland season four premiere isn't until October 5th, and the other issue is that no TV show ever starts at 9:36PM. I've also routinely been alerted about travel times to places that I hadn't searched for; and, starting the second week of use, I began getting traffic alerts to a job I left over a year ago, and hasn't been set as my "work" location in Google Maps since then. 

Beyond Google, it is understandable that many apps have yet to integrate with Android Wear, so I can't get too upset about that. But what is annoying is that if I didn't pay attention to the news, I probably wouldn't know when an app added Android Wear support, because the platform does a pretty bad job of surfacing the apps that work, or bringing the most useful information to the top of the Wear feed. This issue is made extra annoying because of how cumbersome it is to open an app on the watch. To manually open an app, you have to tap the top of the screen to start the listening mode, then swipe up to get to the commands list, scroll all the way to the bottom to the "Start..." option, and choose the app you want to start. You can also use a voice command, if you're in a quiet spot, but that carries its own troubles. 

Voice commands and dictation on Android Wear, or the LG G Watch at least, is a very different thing than on your phone. On your phone, you are given time to pause and think, which is especially nice when dictating a reply to a message. But, Android Wear is very aggressive about taking any pause as the end of you speaking. This means you may have to get into the habit of speaking more quickly than usual, and knowing exactly what you're going to say before you say anything. As someone who has a habit of forgetting what I'm saying mid-sentence, you can imagine that this would cause some frustration. 

Of course, despite those issues, I am still quite a big fan of Android Wear overall. I wouldn't have titled this article the way I did if I didn't like the platform. For the first time in a long time, I can easily imagine myself wearing a watch on a daily basis, although it won't be the LG G Watch for too much longer. I'm exceedingly happy to see manufacturers beginning to put more effort into hardware design, because the G Watch is a failure to me. It didn't need to be though. A plain black plastic rectangle with a rubber wristband has its place in the market, but you damn sure need to make that device waterproof, give it a heart rate monitor, and market it to the fitness community. Or, at least price it on the lower end. 

Serendipity and engagement

We're starting to see manufacturers aggressively reaching for the potentials of hardware design, and some developers are also embracing the platform in exciting ways. I expected to get more Field Trip type notifications from Google while using Android Wear, but aside from the hiccups noted above, the platform is quite good about giving me the information I need to know, when and where I need to know it. The app that has embraced Google's vision for Android Wear the best has been Foursquare. I can't even be sure that Foursquare's latest update was made with wearables in mind, but it has absolutely nailed it. 

My phone knows where I am, and there have been a number of times when Foursquare has used that data to give me unexpectedly amazing information. I've never been one to dive into Foursquare or Yelp reviews all that much, but having that information surfaced to me is exactly what I want. I've been given recommendations for foods that I like when I'm out to eat, but there is far more fun to be had in that data. The best was when I was out to eat with my parents at a place called The Naked Turtle when my wrist buzzed with a Foursquare message telling me that there was an "awkwardly high urinal" at that establishment. I went to the bathroom and was amused to find exactly that: a urinal which would be awkwardly high for anyone much shorter than me (6'4"/1.93m). 

Obviously, not all serendipitous moments are going to be that amusing, but Foursquare has become the standard for what I imagine to be the potential of wearables - quality information, when it is relevant, and frictionless. I could have had the same experience described above with just my phone, but the fact that the whole interaction took place in a quick glance to my wrist rather than pulling out my phone kept me more engaged in the social moment with my parents. And, that is one of the big aims coming from Google recently is keeping you engaged with your surroundings. 

Google and Android are undoubtedly designed to help you communicate with friends and family around the world, but Google has been shifting recently to keep you engaged with those physically close to you. As odd as Google Glass may look, it is designed on the same principle of glanceable information as Android Wear. There is information that will add value to the moment, but getting it shouldn't remove you from that moment. Android Wear still has growing to do, but it is definitely on the right path. 


As a practical matter, offloading is my number one priority when it comes to my mobile devices. When I found that I couldn't make it through a day with the battery available on my phone, I got a tablet and offloaded my reading, browsing, and gaming to save my phone battery. Now, the issue is no longer offloading battery usage, but attention. My phone probably buzzes less than the average user on a daily basis, but even so, a lot of those notifications don't need my attention. Having to pull out my phone to decide the importance of a notification may not take a lot of time, especially since I have a Moto X, and the Active Display feature is designed to help with that, but it takes far more time than glancing at my wrist. 

The biggest value of Android Wear is surfacing quality information, but an almost equally important benefit is in acting as a triage device for your digital world. Not everything deserves your attention, and swiping away a notification on your wrist is much quicker than dealing with it on your phone. It may not seem to be a huge amount of time, but it all adds up in the end. 

I may have not worn a watch in 15 years, but the early indications point to the fact that I'll be wearing an Android Wear device on a daily basis for the foreseeable future. Now, I just need to have my wife decide which one fits my personal sense of fashion (which she has chosen for me). I hope it's a Moto 360.



1. ojdidit84

Posts: 462; Member since: Jul 16, 2011

Before reading the first sentence, I already knew that it was a Michael H article! Favorite writer on PA. I haven't worn a watch in years either and I, too, am thinking seriously about Android Wear.

27. dmakun

Posts: 382; Member since: Jun 06, 2011

I am too but my problem with them at this stage is the battery recharge circles of roughly 1-2 days. I need smart watches to last at least 4days before I consider it. Also besides the moto 360 there isn't any other smart watch I'd consider. I'm liking the look of the son to be announced gear watch from Samsung but not sure Tizen will see the type of development android wear will enjoy.

33. 14545

Posts: 1835; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

I would probably need a couple of weeks or a month before I would really consider them. Although, MH does, as always, bring up some very valid points. He's about the only writer still worth visiting PA for.

2. XperiaFanZone

Posts: 2277; Member since: Sep 21, 2012

Great piece by Michael Huang.

5. rihel_95

Posts: 305; Member since: Mar 21, 2012

i thought micheal heller

45. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

Let's split the difference and go with Michael Heller

3. register unregistered

Great article as always.

4. nctx77

Posts: 2540; Member since: Sep 03, 2013

Lol at the Moto 360. It's still not on shelves yet. The iwatch will be announced in two weeks. It's over Moto. Sure the iwatch will not be immediately available, but it will be a real product and the general public will be all over it. Moto, you have failed. The way it's looking, it's not even going to be the first Android wear watch to launch with a round face. This reminds me so much of the Droid Bionic.

6. Vexify

Posts: 570; Member since: Jun 16, 2014

Exactly. They should have had it out by now. Now that the iWatch is coming out, we are going to see a repeat of what happened in 2007 with the iPhone, and later on with the iPad. Total annihilation and domination. Yes people will buy Android Wear because they are the ones who have Android phones, but it will be nothing compared to the amounts of people who will buy an iWatch.

8. 14545

Posts: 1835; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

What? Are you joking? Total "annihilation and domination"? Umm, who has 80% of the global market share? I'm not a fanboy, but do you even research anything before saying it? http://www.cnet.com/news/ipad-sheds-more-market-share-but-still-dominates/ So 20% of the global market share for their phones, and 30 for their tablets = "total domination, and annihilation"? Really?

10. Vexify

Posts: 570; Member since: Jun 16, 2014

"Global market share" LMAO. No one is talking about global market share. Use your damn brain next time. I know you have one. Look back in history and understand what Im talking about. You have the context all wrong. Kthxbye.

12. Awalker

Posts: 1977; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

Even in the US Android is still the majority. Also, Apple can't cut into Motorola' sales because each watch is for their respective platforms. What could disrupt the sales of the 360 is LG's new watch.

15. 14545

Posts: 1835; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

Then what is "domination" if it isn't marketshare? What, profit? I know the history, so I don't need to revisit it. The one thing that apple did innovate, sort of, was the iPod, and the "store". Everything else is marketing fluff. There is nothing they added that didn't exist prior to their arrival, but when people are mindless drones all you have to do is trick them into thinking you created something "new and revolutionary." People buy apple because it is the "Ralph Laren" or whatever, of our time. It's the "in" thing. It won't succeed because it is the best, and maybe it will be as that is yet to be determined, but it will be bought because it has a logo on the outside that depicts an apple with a bit taken out of it. A perfect example of that is the fact that after the "stickers" commercial the apple stickers (iirc) tripled in sales. I use an android product, but I don't feel the need to put a "Samsung, Moto, or Robot" sticker on my car, or laptop, or any other object in my life. That doesn't make a secondary product a failure just because it hasn't be released yet.

16. Vexify

Posts: 570; Member since: Jun 16, 2014

When the iPhone came out, no one wanted any other "smartphone" that came shortly and several years after. It was all about the iPhone and the iPhone only. The iPhone was totally popularity and "domination" and no other phone could match up to its standards (Geeks, go home, I'm not talking about your beloved tech). Same with the iPad. Thats all people wanted. An iPhone and an iPad. Same is gonna happen with the iWatch. Now go home and read your numbers and paper charts to someone who actually cares lol.

18. Awalker

Posts: 1977; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

As I said earlier, only people with iPhones are going to buy the Apple watch. The iwatch is not a threat to Motorola.

32. 14545

Posts: 1835; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

No, there were plenty of people that wanted other platforms. Have you ever heard of Windows Mobile? Blackberry? etc. Blackberry actually did pretty well for quite a while after the iPhone came out, despite what you are trying to convince people of. Also, Android didn't exist when the iPhone came out. You do realize that the iPhone is only 7 years old, right? So to claim "several" years is just asinine. Just stop with the fanboy comments. The iPads run only lasted for about 2 years, then the other markets (windows and android) started picking up. Sure, the grandma that only surfs facebook will never need anything more than an iPad, but any college, or HS student, or professional is much better off buying a full windows device any day of the week over an "iPad". iPads are useless toys. And I say this as a person who absolutely hates the stupid metro interface. But Windows >>>>>>>>>>>>android tablet>>>>>iPad. and if you think otherwise you are a fool. Anyone that is actually sold what they need, not just what they want, knows the benefits of having a full windows device.

20. Slammer

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jun 03, 2010

Global marketshare is very important because it shows what most of the world population chooses to conduct its business and pleasure needs and wants. Analysts may dig deep and research any info they can to prop up certain products, but in the end, it is a larger group that could choose anything yet choose their product of choice. It is obvious you fall into minority group or you wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the relevancy of the huge percentage gap of preference. In short, small 13% marketshare made up of ifans seem to gyrate on how much Apple makes on its products while forgetting how it makes this money off such a small percentage. I don't care how much money Apple makes. I care how much a can save and still do what everyone else can plus more. I have not heard from anyone that claim they wouldn't be able to get through life without an Apple product. Not anyone that is serious anyway. I'm sorry to rant. But I get tired of the small marketshare of Apple fans thinking they are right while the rest of the 82% of the world is wrong. Just because you spend more, doesn't mean you are right. You ride Apple's dink like it's a stolen bicylcle. Meanwhile the rest of the world is still getting the job done without an Apple product. I don't know what more you Apple fans need for proof that it really doesn't matter what is best or worst. Choice is selective and the world as overwhelmingly chosen Android. And so you know, I was an Apple fan and user for close to 11 years up until the point of its near bankruptsy. I can assure you. While Apple is a great product, it is not the Holy Grail you think it is. If it were, the percentage would obviously be the other way around and I would still be supporting it. John B.

40. WallStreetWolf

Posts: 289; Member since: Apr 08, 2013

Global marketshare tells me that Google doesn't give a hoot about hardware profit margins and are merely in it for the use of our personal information. I don't blame Google for its business practices, just as I don't blame Apple for the premium they charge for their experience. My iPad 2 has been supported since iOS 4 and I am getting one more year out of it with 8. I am not even ashamed of the performance on the beta version I am using now. I don't gain every single new addition like Health Kit, Air Drop or Siri (iOS 6 update), but the majority of functions and apps will all function as usual with some new tricks. I can't say that about Android and that is the one thing that doesn't give them my complete business. They don't even provide 3 year support for their own Nexus devices. (Hopefully this changes) I use a Moto X as my everyday phone, because I live in NYC and I don't want to increase my chances of an iPhone or a Galaxy device getting quickly stolen from my hands on the subway or on the street. However, my tablet, laptop, and streaming device are all Apple products, not because of a brand name, but consistency in experience and support. If you haven't had an Apple product since the Microsoft bail out, you are not objective enough to understand that difference. It's not just a popularity contest.

44. Slammer

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jun 03, 2010

I don't feel I need to be a current user to base my "objective" view. Many of my friends and colleagues from my generation had revisited the Apple line of products since our original departure. While few have remained with Apple, most have moved to Android for the same reason we had moved to Windows back then. The closed ecosystem was and is a constant annoyance for those of us that want to do what we please with a product we paid good money for. The product is great but, it is a testament that it will always feed the few that do not mind the constraints. When it comes to marketshare, I feel you are being somewhat rebellious against the point I was making toward the OP. Google doesn't force anyone to purchase its platform and I''m quite sure you realize this. To use stability and security of the OS as an argument becomes null and void. It would appear that over 80% of the world does't care. While it is a great sales point, it has been proven time and time again over the years that Apple's OS and security codes can be breached. You must take the global marketshare as it is. Android is the most popular platform regardless of how you or I would feel. John B.

48. WallStreetWolf

Posts: 289; Member since: Apr 08, 2013

It doesn't really bother me if Android is the most popular platform. People are more practical than we give them credit for and most posters often forget that the world can't always afford flagships. I was merely stating that price plays a huge part in the popularity of Android devices even before functionality. I think I am more or less stating that your experience with Apple is too old to pass judgement upon those that are faithful to it now. 1997 is a long time ago and I respect your opinion, but a lot has been done since then in the Apple camp.

23. sgodsell

Posts: 7368; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

The iWatch won't be sold until next year 2015. Also the iWatch is for Apple devices and not Android. So how will that bite into Android? Android Wear is for Android devices. So with that said I do not see how the iWatch will annihilate or dominate the market.

46. 14545

Posts: 1835; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

I got a warning for feeding the "troll"? Why not just ban the troll? Whatever.

7. twens

Posts: 1175; Member since: Feb 25, 2012

You haven't tried a product yet you claim it has failed. How do you know? Are you a magician? Some people are just weird I don't even get it anymore. I don't like smart watches but I wouldn't say they have failed. What you don't like someone else may like. Grow up !!

9. wilsong17 unregistered

Apple is his god. . Smh

13. Vexify

Posts: 570; Member since: Jun 16, 2014

Lets not talk about your god lol . . Smh

39. Run.n.Gun

Posts: 45; Member since: Nov 06, 2013

And samsung is your god..Smh

14. Awalker

Posts: 1977; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

His reasoning is flawed because the Apple watch will only be compatible with the iPhone. There's no reason for anyone with an Android phone to buy it.

22. Scott93274

Posts: 6033; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Correct. As the Android Wear smartwatch is an accessory to the Android platform, Apple's late (As always) to the market competing device will not actually have any impact on the Moto 360 as someone with an iPhone would not buy a Moto 360 and someone with an Android Device will not buy an iWatch. That being said, I think it's awesome that Android users have many different options to choose from. Don't like the Moto 360? Well, there are alternatives on the market and that many more attractive options coming soon.

21. Scott93274

Posts: 6033; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Even if this currently non existent iWatch were to get announced in a week, it still wont launch until some time in 2015, that gives Motorola several months head start and the whole Android Wear platform more than half a year. And by the time 2015 rolls around, no one will care about Apple's iWatch because everyone will be focused on Google when they release Project Ara phones onto the market. Apple has been incredibly disappointing the past several years. It's as though they're unable to innovate without Steve Jobs at the helm. Apple's next big thing will always be something that Android beat them to the market with, Widgits, larger displays, 3rd party keyboards, smart watches. Your new features will always be at least a year or more behind the competition. So how about you show a little respect to the first company to company to bring a desirable smartwatch to the market. And maybe realize that anything you have to get excited about on your upcoming platform is stuff that 85% of the market was excited for back in 2012.

35. Vexify

Posts: 570; Member since: Jun 16, 2014

What do you go by? Your Analyst name.

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