Month: September 2014

Starting out with Android Wear and the LG G Watch

We have seen a few watches now featuring Android Wear, and the Moto 360 is widely thought the be the best of the bunch from a variety of reviews. Increasingly I have been tempted to get one when they come to the UK and was lucky enough to have the awesome Darren Griffin from offer to loan me his for a while.

So below is a kind of stream of conciousness of my impressions and feelings as I spent a few hours with it:

Picture of my loaned LG G Watch in its box

First Impressions

Looks like a watch type box. Feels hefty but have to remember its has charger inside. Lifeless square of black on opening the box.

How the hell do i turn it on? There are no buttons. Needs to be placed on charger to turn it on. Not cool. On the good side nice satisfying clunk with magnet when its placed on charger. Wondered how I can tell when its ready and charged without constantly checking?- found a useful app called Battery Watch for Android Wear.I should say that apps are installed onto your phone, not the watch itself. Can get confusing when you need to take actions on both devices to get Wear apps set up.

Dissapointing when screen lights up how much smaller than the watch face the screen is. Thick bezzle. If all the watch face were screen that would have been much more impressive.

Photograph of the LG G Watch and TomTom GPS Sportswatch next to each other on a desk

Compared to TomTom GPS Sportswatch. You can see actual display size.

Next to install Android Wear from Play Store. Easy set up and guides you through changing your notification settings and permissions. Also a good way to go back through how it works later if you forget.

Then it guides you to Android Wear store to check out some other apps you might like. Immediately Maps and Wunderlist both there and I use both. Cool!

The first impression is that there are a lot of watch face apps. A lot. Is there anything else? There is but not exactly easy to find.

Spent some time playing around with voice control. ‘Ok Google’ and subsequent commands worked well. Sent a quick text very easily using voice alone. Pretty cool.

I dug out a copy of magazine to look for suggested wear apps to use. Trying out an app called Bunting which is free and acts as a Twitter client and should be able to tweet from it. Sadly for me it didn’t work. Something to do with 2 step verification. Email sent to developer. There were others such as Talon but at this point wanting to not spend any money on apps. Why isn’t Twitter already allowing Wear use? Is it going to be an Apple Watch exclusive?

Had a few emails come in now. Even more electric cacophony. Mac, then phone and final watch all chiming away! There is an option somewhere to set notifications to watch only.

Photograph of the Battery Watch face in action

Battery Watch face in action

It’s not exactly easy to get a snap of the notifications in action. By the time I flick my wrist to turn on display and get the phones camera to autofocus its gone again!

So that’s it for now. Time to try living with it on a daily basis and seeing how it fits in.

Any thoughts, questions or things you would like me to check out for you if your interested in an Android Wear watch just let me know via Twitter ( @RichHarkness ).

Watch this space for updates.

Thoughts on the Apple Watch

The Apple Watch Sports in white

The Apple Watch

The dust has settled, hysteria has passed like the memory of the awful live streaming. So not quite then ( ahem ).

What we are left with is a solid, desirable and clever wearable. The cleverest part as often with Apple is the simplicity of design especially when it comes to the digital crown. They took an existing design element that has existed for a very long time and adapted it for a modern use. But there are some issues with it..

Firstly it fails to do the one thing truly desired of a wearable as I mentioned in a previous post. It will not automatically know what type of activity being done. Again we are going to have to tell it “look here I am, going to do some running now thanks”. Then we’ll have to tell it when we’ve stopped and so on.

Next up, it fails as a true sports device. What the heck is the point of a lovely watch to go out running with if the user has to lug a 5.5 inch phone around with them. This is crazy and lets hope this turns out to be incorrect information or at least Apple manage to get GPS in there somehow. Another thing spoiling it as a sport device is that it’s not fully waterproof. The price this is going to cost it really needs to do everything in regards to sport tracking. Not to have to take it off in the changing rooms and swap it for something like the TomTom GPS Multisport watch. Which then sends the data to 3rd party fitness companies and not Apple thus ruining the seemless data collection in its fitness section. Grrrr.

I have reservations about how well it will work navigating such tiny icons and that we seem to have to use the touch screen on some occasions and at other times can use either the screen or the crown. One thing is for sure the sensitivity and feel of that crown is going to have to be spot on or the experience will be awful. Perhaps they will allow a sensitivity adjustment setting for those who are heavy-handed vs gentler folk.

Personally I am using a HTC One M8 as my phone. I had the Moto 360 firmly in my sights ( despite the dead bit ) yet this looks like a near miss as well. So to jump ship and get an iPhone and the Apple watch will set me back over a £1000. Ouch.

It may well be that I sit out this round ( how gutting ), or I give the 360 a whirl but I am not convinced that spending that kind of money with Apple is going to be worth it this time round. For both Google and Apple these devices seem awkwardly first generation. Lets hope they get enough interest to hit version two. Perhaps you should think hard about your purchase too and consider waiting for the next generation models.

VERDICT: Well done Apple but you can clearly do better –  Grade B


Guest Blogger post: Are current smartwatches fashionable?

With the possibility of Apples new wearable looming next week and a few smartwatches all ready on the scene I asked myself a question I don’t normally care much about.. are these things fashionable? The reason I pose this question is that current watches are much more about fashion than they are function. Watches have well surpassed the point of developing anything functionally more useful than what we already have. So for mass adoption smartwatches are going to have to look good to wear and for people to feel proud and cool wearing one.

There is a problem however. I am not exactly a fashionable person nor do I follow fashion trends. I do however know of such a person. Say hello to fellow blogger Ruth Emmerson! Ruth writes on her fashion blog as well as writing for her local newspaper The Tamworth Herald. and I am delighted she agreed to share her thoughts about smartwatches. Over to you Ruth!

Smart watches are causing quite a stir in the technology world but what about the fashion world? Usually buying a watch is now seen as a fashion buy for most people, and yes being able to see the time is the whole point, but many of us look at the surrounds – strap type, round or square face, metal, size, etc. Watches have come a long way from the days of just being seen as a helpful tool to have on ones wrist; they are now, by many, considered a fashion accessory that is worked into an overall ‘look’.

I am not alone in having more than one watch; I have a few in all different styles so that I can alternate depending on my ‘look’ for that day. My personal taste when it comes to watches is more of a unisex look. I am not keen on overly girly and feminine watches; I like them to be a round face, clean, usually gold or silver, simple and a decent size. So when it comes to the smart watch, should looks be a factor? Personally, yes.

I have reviewed three key players in the smart watch world purely on looks alone, nothing else; here are my thoughts…

Moto 360

Out of the three I looked at this was by far my favourite mainly because it didn’t look like a typical smart watch to me. I really liked how this looked like more of a unisex watch; I could imagine both my male and female friends wearing this.
The combination of leather and stainless steel is a winner for me and overall it looked quite compact and neat. This watch is one you could work into your wardrobe as it isn’t a huge statement of ‘look at me I’m wearing a smart watch’; it blends in well and appears subtle.

Samsung Gear Live

For me this looked like a typical smart watch and there was nothing fashion wise to get excited about. It was a little too chunky and masculine; as I’ve said I am not one for girly watches but I cannot imagine many females wearing this as it would be too big for their wrists.


My thoughts on this were pretty much the same as the Gear Live watch as they are quite similar in terms of looks. This used a rubber strap which personally I don’t like for watches. Again there isn’t much to appeal to a female in terms of how it looks and how it would work as an ‘accessory’.

For guys the Gear Live and the LG G would not cause too many issues; they are masculine, chunky, dark and look quite gadget like. I can see men wearing all three but for us ladies, I would say the Moto 360 is our only option.

I think a leather strap is a good way forward and having a range of colours (but still keeping them quite dark and chic) such as navy, grey, silver and black to choose from. Bringing out two sizes, a small and a large could again help to appeal to a female audience.
Smart watches don’t need to be fancy or feminine; a simple structure and design can work amazingly well, I just think there needs to be more thought into setting them apart from each other not just in a technology sense but also a fashion one.


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