Today Google announced their entry into the wearable space with Android Wear. Unlike Google Glass where you look like a cyborg or accused of being a “GlassHole“, these devices gives you access to information in a more socially acceptable form factor like a watch. The Pebble Smartwatch and Samsung’s Galaxy Gear are just a few examples of attempts to break open this market, but there is one thing that they all receive a failing grade for – telling time.
living the future
There’s something magical and almost natural having the power of the Internet on your wrist. Perhaps it’s Dick Tracy, and Inspector Gadget conditioning us to believe that smartwatches are a sign of the future similar that we all wish to live in. I’ve played with the Pebble and toyed with using my iPod Nano as a watch and although neat they’ve fallen short of my expectations. The information they’re able to provide at a glance is fantastic, but I still cannot believe how poorly they tell time…
Let me correct that. They tell time, they tell it well, but they cannot tell it for very long.
fix the battery life
Personally the one crucial element for a watch, and even a smartwatch, is how reliable it is at telling time. The iPod Nano as a smartwatch is pretty good; I loved the different watch faces, access to my music, and the Nike Fuel fitness monitor tracking my steps but I could only rely on it for around 6-7 hours. If I decided to hangout with friends after work I’m wearing a bracelet. The Pebble Smartwatch I borrowed lasts 4 to 5 days, however when I forgot to charge it and I’m wearing a bracelet again. The Samsung Galaxy Gear is rated at 25 hours with typical usage. Although good, if you decide to go away on vacation you’re stuck carrying a power adapter for your watch which is a pain. The watch is an accessory and carrying a power cable for it is a pain. I’m already carrying cords for a tablet, smartphone, laptop – the last thing I need is another cable. A typical wrist watch, even a cheap one, lasts a year or longer on a single battery and to date I haven’t seen a smartwatch achieve anything close to this.
Telling time needs too be reliable.
android wear and the killer feature
Time keeping is important and in emergency situations knowing the time or how much has past could mean the difference between life and death. My smartphone may not be functioning but I still have a brain; important meetings and events I basically have an idea of when I need to be at a certain place. Not being able to tell the time a day puts us all in an awkward situations that can be easily avoided. Google is working with hardware vendors like Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola and Samsung to build out devices based on Android Wear and I’m hoping that they include the killer feature of a small backup battery. Practically guarantee that I can always know what time it is and I’m sold on smartwatches.