Nexus Android Wear smartwatches are going to save the day

Opinion: Our EiC is hoping for a huge OS boost from the rumoured wearables
Nexus smartwatches to save the day

When it comes to Android Wear, I'm starting to feel a little bit like Homer Simpson chasing the spit-roasted pig around Springfield, holding onto a false hope that it's salvageable from its inevitable doom.

"It's just a little airborne! It's still good, it's still good!"

The trouble is, I've been beating the "Android Wear is a work in progress" drum for ages now. When it launched, back in June 2014, that was a pretty easy thing to do. It was simple enough to drawn comparisons between the first two Android Wear smartwatches out of the blocks – the LG G Watch and the Samsung Gear Live – to the first commercially available Android smartphone – the HTC Dream/G1.

I reminded people that the Dream was more than a little rough around the edges and that, within two years, the heavy-hitting Nexus One had arrived and was being touted as an "iPhone killer".

The trouble is, with Android Wear, we've had no knight in shining Nexus armour to drag the platform out of its slump.

All we've had is a few, mediocre-at-best, updates and some different-on-the-outside / same-story-on-the-inside hardware launches: the Tag Heuer Connected and the Casio Smart Outdoor WSD-F10 come to mind.

There is hope though (It's still good, it's still good). Android Wear 2.0 is clearly a major update – and it's obvious that Google thinks so too; not only did it get the distinguished 2.0 moniker (touted unofficially for previous Wear updates) but it also dedicated a fair chunk of its I/O 2016 keynote to detailing its features.

The smartwatch market is still in such an incipient state that no-one is really sure if the world wants a Dick Tracy-esque wrist-based phone replacement. But what we have discovered so far is that people don't want their smart wearables to be entirely reliable on their smartphones. There needs to be a semblance of separation between the two.

Therefore, standalone apps and Android Wear devices that can work independently of smartphones are obviously a big deal. And these are two of the biggest selling points of Wear 2.0.


But that's not enough. We need physical hardware proof that Google is all-in on its smartwatch bet. Getting brands like Tag, Casio, Nixon and Fossil on board is one thing. Laying down a quality marker is quite another. In the same way that the Nexus range of smartphones paved the way for the likes of the HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S and Sony Xperia Z ranges and, more specifically the purer Android devices like the Moto and OnePlus devices, we need a physical sign post from Mountain View.

And we could be about to get one, if the Android Wear Nexus smartwatch rumours ring true. But while the Nexus handsets upped the ante in terms of build quality and design for Android smartphones (amongst other things), I'm hoping the purported Nexus smartwatch duo usher a new era for Wear's internals. The smartwatch OS needs a huge UI boost if it's to keep pace with what Apple is doing with watchOS 3.

With Google Assistant, rumoured to be the key ingredient on the new Nexus watches, I'm hopeful it will.

In the last couple of years, one of my key reasons for keeping faith with Android Wear (It's still good, it's still good) is the power of Google Now. Sure, it's clunky and clumsy as balls, but it is so, so clever. When it gets it right, it really is a tech-wow moment. Sports results from three days ago are a bore you have to endure in order to receive gems such as travel time to your next meeting, and flight delay details when you're making your way to the airport.

Google Assistant, from what they showed us at I/O, is Google Now after chugging a Big Gulp Steroid smoothie. It's Alexa and Siri in-one, with the might of the world's biggest search engine thrown in (with emojis packed in for good measure). It's Scarlett Johansson in Her on your wrist.

It's the saviour of Android Wear, you just wait and see (It's still good, it's still good).

6 Comments

  • yogibimbi says:

    no-one is really sure if the world wants a Dick Tracy-esque wrist-based phone replacement - I don't care about the world. I want one, so get rolling!

  • Darkpower_4 says:

    I love my lg urbane and I sell smartwatches like crazy to my friends. I also 3d print cases for them and I work in the construction field and that's my main clientel too. they come in handy that's for sure. and they can help keep you from losing your phone.

  • Iamdarren says:

    i ditched my android wear watch. Couldnt bare the loss of fitness tracking midday and sacrificing no sleep tracking because I needed to leave it on charge over night.   Not to forget the endless force closes and super lag.  I got a cheap pebble time, I've already backed a pt2. I used to have the oh pebble and I must say battery life and clunkiness wins over poor performance of my lg G watch r. Yea the display isn't great but It works in full sunlight and is 30m waterproof, will get u through a week with battery life too!!! These things so it to me. Damn sight cheaper too, than my £200 G watch r that sits in. Drawer 

    • anantcandy says:

      The feeling is mutual, my friend. I hate every inch of my Huawei watch. Doesn't look good, has 0 features, 

      My fitbit surge does automatic exercise tracking, sleep tracking, suggests me good time to sleep, 24 hr heartrate tracking etc. What does Androidwear do - Zilch, nada, Zephyr

      The step tracking is AWFUL. There is no exercise / HR monitoring apps. The main reason i bought the watch was calendar notifications. Even they don't show up correctly. Seriously google? too much to ask?

      Not to mention the watch hangs / jitters like crazy. You do not want this on a timepiece. If it happened with a conventional timepiece, you'd throw it away

      And every night it goes into the charging dock. Oh the folly!

  • Knoj says:

    The MotoACTV was ahead of it's time.  Someday they'll bring back the features it had while describing them as game changers:  not tied to a band, song performance learning for sports, built in GPS ANT WiFi and Bluetooth, water resistance, and so much more.

    Rooted, they are just about perfect if you can still find one.

  • anantcandy says:

    Android wear is a FAILURE like google plus

    My fitbit surge does automatic exercise tracking, sleep tracking, suggests me good time to sleep, 24 hr heartrate tracking etc. What does Androidwear do - Zilch, nada, Zephyr

    The step tracking is AWFUL. There is no exercise / HR monitoring apps. The main reason i bought the watch was calendar notifications. Even they don't show up correctly. Seriously google? too much to ask?

    Not to mention the watch hangs / jitters like crazy. You do not want this on a timepiece. If it happened with a conventional timepiece, you'd throw it away

    And every night it goes into the charging dock. Oh the folly!

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