#Trending: Android Wear in exile

Smartwatches are going it alone
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Android Wear was on almost every smartwatch worth mentioning in 2014. It became a shorthand for the category. It was going to be as popular for wearables as Android is for smartphones.

Update: When will your smartwatch get Android Wear 2.0

And then. The Apple Watch was teased and Pebble announced it's sold 1 million smartwatches.

Compare that to 720,000 Android Wear watches sold in the last six months of 2014. That total includes the Samsung Gear Live, LG G Watch R and Moto 360.

But apart from the stainless steel Sony SmartWatch 3 announced at CES, smartwatches have been going it alone, choosing to try building a better user experience than Android Wear. One that's more intuitive to use, targeted to fitness fans or slurps less battery life.

Samsung, LG, Garmin and Alcatel all now make smartwatches that don't run Google's OS and Pebble has just unveiled its promising new Timeline UI on the Pebble Time.

And the rumours point to more experimentation from HTC (RTOS) and Asus (Windows) at MWC next week. Mobile World Congress starts on 1 March and we may be about to eat our hats but it sure looks like the next version of Android Wear has its work cut out convincing smartwatch makers it's the best - or only - bet.

WEAR - Pebble Time


We haven't had a chance to play with Pebble's new OS on the Time yet but it looks mighty promising. It builds on the simplicity of past Pebble smartwatches but adds a Timeline UI split into past, present and future so that you can easily scroll (via physical buttons not swipes) to your most immediate alerts and appointments and previous messages or notifications.

It sounds genius and much more practical than the 'undo' button which was added to Android Wear. We don't want to spend too much time on our smartwatch but the ability to go back and forward in time simply and easily could be a real winner.

The best bit? Pebble promises on its Kickstarter page that Timeline is coming to the Pebble and the Pebble Steel.

SQUARE - Android Wear


OK, our favourite smartwatch the LG G Watch R runs Android Wear. And the open source OS means that we have a lot of choice in terms of specs, design and battery life already.

Still, the update adding a few choice feature and custom watchfaces didn't do enough and Google I/O, where we imagine we'll see the next big Android Wear update, isn't happening until the last week of May.

Smartwatch showdown: Apple Watch v Android Wear

We've got to the stage where we're excited about new smartwatches until we realise it will be the same exciting but flawed experience in a different package.

A work in progress.



We're pretty confused about why LG has announced two smartwatches in the space of a couple of weeks with different functionalities, different operating systems, different specs and a tweaked design.

But that doesn't mean we aren't keen to see what LG's proprietary OS for the G Watch Urbane LTE looks like at MWC.

LG has confirmed that it isn't running a wearable version of webOS as outed on the LG and Audi smartwatch at CES 2015, which we were disappointed to hear. But watch this space for how LG plans to improve on Android Wear's usability and usefulness. It's come a long way on its smartphone skins so our fingers are firmly crossed.


How we test


Sophie was Wareable's associate editor. She joined the team from Stuff magazine where she was an in-house reviewer. For three and a half years, she tested every smartphone, tablet, and robot vacuum that mattered. 

A fan of thoughtful design, innovative apps, and that Spike Jonze film, she is currently wondering how many fitness tracker reviews it will take to get her fit. Current bet: 19.

Sophie has also written for a host of sites, including Metro, the Evening Standard, the Times, the Telegraph, Little White Lies, the Press Association and the Debrief.

She now works for Wired.

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