Android Wear Review

By Steve Birchfield | Nov 07 2014
AndroidWear

In case you haven’t heard, Android has released Android Wear, the scaled down OS for smart watches.  I say this because I just bought one such watch and I have had several people ask me if it was the Apple Watch.  It is a shame that more people don’t know about the Android devices and how great they are.  Google really needs to get the word out about.  Regardless, I wasn’t certain I was going to like a smart watch and I had been holding off to get one. Since getting the watch I have become convinced they are a viable device.

android-wear-screenAndroid Wear was released earlier this year and there are several watches available.  I went with the LG G Watch for several reasons.  First, it had decent reviews from owners compared to other versions.  People liked the battery life and that the face stays lit up all of the time if you want that. I really want to be able to just glance down and see the time.  Unlike phones these days that we seldom talk on, I really plan on using it primarily as a watch.  The battery life is great.  Even with heavy use and keeping the screen on constantly I can get through the day.  On light to moderate use I am certain I could squeeze out 2 days without a recharge.

I also selected it for price.  It is one of the less expensive watches available.  I could have purchased a Pebble smart watch for $30 less but it wasn’t a color or a touch screen and it has its own set of proprietary apps to choose from.  Android watches have a growing collection of apps and a much larger developer base.  I can see the number of apps growing very quickly.  The color on the watch faces set these apart from standard watches.

I like the look and feel of the band on the LG. I think the watch almost passes for a standard watch and many people didn’t at first notice it was a smart watch.  I will admit it isn’t as sleek looking as the Moto 360 round face watch and it doesn’t have a camera like the Samsung watch.  But after seeing the Moto 360 in person and how thick it was, I liked the LG even better.  I have no need for a camera in my watch.  That seems like a gimmick more than a usable feature.  The band on the LG G Watch takes standard .22mm watch band replacements and is simple to change.  I really have found the stock rubber watch band to be very adjustable and comfortable.  The fact that it functions more like a watch and less like a phone or tablet is a strength of wearable devices. It has a specific function that it performs well.google-maps-android-wear

The screen is decent looking and readable in the sunlight.  I believed the biggest problem I would have with a smart watch would be that the screen couldn’t be read in bright sunlight.  Since getting the watch I have been in all sorts of lighting, both indoors and out.  I have been able to read it with ease everywhere.  Even wearing polarized sunglasses didn’t prevent me from seeing the screen.  This is helpful since there are turn by turn directions from Google Maps sent to the watch.  Walking around town you will be able to navigate without having your phone out and looking like you’re lost.

What else can you do with it? I get email and text notifications on it. I can see the header of the email or read the whole text.  I can reply to text messages with just my voice.  I can see my appointments and even football scores or stocks at any time.  You are not going to compose a long email of text with this but you can easily see if it is worth pulling your phone out to read a message.  It also counts your daily steps.   I can search the web using voice commands and it vibrates when there are messages or notifications. This is handy when you are in a situation where pulling out your phone might be inappropriate but glancing down at your watch is quick and easy.  I can see who is calling without looking at my phone. In essence, it makes your phone more useful for the things that require a keyboard and an immediate response.  I was looking at my phone at every beep and buzz when I could ignore many of these notifications if I knew what they were for.  I pull my phone out now at least 1/3 less than before.

You can add apps to it and download many different watch faces.  There is a whole marketplace filling up with apps for Android Wear devices.  Since it pairs to your phone for data access and notifications I have an app loaded that buzzes when I walk away from the phone and it loses connection.  I also have upgraded the calendar app to something fancier looking.  Even without other apps the watch has been very functional.  I noticed this morning that I had a Google card pop up and tell me that one of my favorite shows is coming on tonight with a new episode.  It also has the local weather. When I traveled to another state it gave me my hometown weather and the current city forecasts.  Stocks that you have selected in your Google account will show up. The background on the card for the stocks shows red, green or blue depending if the stocks are down, up or mixed. I am finding out more about the watch features every day.

The negatives are Android Wear needs to have the ability to pin some types of cards. I don’t want to accidentally swipe away certain cards. If I could pin them to the phone so that I could swipe them to get back to the main screen but  have them come right back that would be great. I think there should be a way to send cards or items to the watch. I have things in Google Now on my phone that I never see on watch.  I also would like to have the watch face do nothing on a short press.  Sometimes I am just touching the watch to wake it up or start to swipe down to see other cards and instead it goes to the search screen.  A long press or side swipe would be better.

Overall, I am very pleased with my new smart watch.  I find it to be not only helpful but functions at a very basic level like a standard watch.  I can change the look of it very easily.  It is user friendly and works like you would want a smart watch to.

Nexus Will Be Coming Round The Corner

By Troy Kng | Oct 06 2014
Nexus 6 with Nexus 5

This next month is sure to be exciting with a slew of new fabulous Android devices making an appearance. From the Nexus 9 to the Nexus 6, we discuss the latest known information and cross our fingers that Google will ship these beasts soon. Today we also discuss Facebook’s latest app acquisition and how it may or may not impact competition.

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Safety Vs Privacy: The Encryption Debate

By Troy Kng | Sep 28 2014
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We dig deep into the current privacy issues on tonight’s show. It seems that in today’s world, we cannot have privacy and safety. Or can we? Let me know by emailing to theandroidvibe@gmail.com. Otherwise, great show with some interesting headlines. The new Angry Birds Transformers looks like a fun departure from the tired-out formula. The supposed Moto Shamu is also interesting. I certainly hope it isn’t the newest Nexus device. Otherwise, I may skip this one and wait until next year.

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Google Glass Goes To Canada

By Troy Kng | Sep 19 2014
Google Glass Goes To Canada

It is interesting that when Google Glass came about, no one really understood the value of the wearable. But now that smart watches are the consumer trend, wearables are the hit sensation. Hopefully the vision of wearables becomes more defined as the tech develops. Also on the Vibe, we discuss Facebook and the myriad of privacy concerns. Do you think Facebook privacy deserves the media hype? Let me know at theandroidvibe@gmail.com

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iPhone 6, The Answer to the Nexus 4 Two Years Later

By Troy Kng | Sep 12 2014
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Now that the iPhone 6 has been announced, many are looking at iOS’s new features and comparing them to the same Android features which have been present for years. Is this a case of iOS simply catching up to Android? We also discuss the new Galaxy Note Edge and whether it is actually a useful product or just a proof-of-concept device.

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OK Google, Speak To Me

By Troy Kng | Sep 05 2014
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Google Now has certainly been underused in my day to day life, but maybe it is time for a turnaround. Google has made tremendous strides in making search, and Android usage in general, more conversational. It is welcome progress to me as I dream of one day being able to do everything on my phone via voice command and have a digital assistant.

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Google’s Knowledge Vault, The Database That Learns

By Troy Kng | Aug 26 2014
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This week we cover some topics that may have significant impact in a number of areas. First, the G Watch R may force some fans to rethink the typical “herd” (or Apple) mentality when it comes to devices. Then, Google’s Knowledge Vault will hopefully not join up with Project Tango lest it destroy the entire human race. Then finally, we discuss the state of Android and whether it still suffers from a fragmentation problem or if it’s just Android bashing in disguise.

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Take Control Of Your Car With Tesla Command

By Troy Kng | Jul 27 2014
tesla-command

Have you ever wanted Android as your chauffeur? Well, that is still a ways off, but you can have Android lock your doors and open your sun roof right now! Thanks to Android Wear, now you can perform a few basic commands to control your Tesla vehicle. It’s great to be back with all of you. Keep sending in your questions and feedback to theandroidvibe@gmail.com.

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The Rise Of Material Android

By Troy Kng | Jul 13 2014
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And we are back! Again! After a hiatus due to the birth of my son, it’s time to get down and dirty with the latest Android news. Android L and pure Googled Android is not long on the horizon, and we want to be there for every minute of it! Androd Wear is also very exciting and is showing real promise. Finally, a smart watch software we can get behind!

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Themer Beta

By Steve Birchfield | Apr 07 2014
ThemerLogo

If you like to change the look of your phone home screens often, finding interesting looks becomes hard to do if you don’t have the time to spend. Adding widgets and aligning graphics is a time consuming process. However, there is an application/launcher that takes much of the work away. Themer Beta by MYCOLORSCREEN is the fast and easy way to completely transform the look of your phone with unique designs. Continue Reading


    The Android Vibe

The Android Vibe - Your favorite Android podcast where we discuss the latest Android news, phones, tablets, app reviews, and more.