Jul 30, 2014 Nick Rego
If a market filled with fitness trackers wasn’t enough, we’ve also got to contend with the growing number of smatwatches that are making their way into the consumer market. Google’s recently revealed Android Wear ecosystem introduced three initial devices to the market one of which is the LG G Watch, when I spent the past two weeks with. These are all still early devices, in the sense that their functionality and use may be limited for the moment, until more developers find new ways to use these unique extensions of Android.
LG have really gone for a safe design with their G Watch, which sports either a black or white design and adjustable rubber strap. It features a 1.65” 280 x 280 resolution IPS display, and no physical buttons. You simply swipe from the watch’s edges to dismiss notifications or access certain features.
Like I said before, there are no physical buttons – not even a power button. The first time you unbox your G Watch, you have to slot it into the provided cradle to recharge it. Once it’s plugged into a power source, the watch springs to life and you can start using it or connecting it with your smartphone. In order to turn off the watch you have to scroll through the device’s Settings panel, and hilariously enough, to turn it back on you have to return it to the cradle. What?
The LG G Watch is dustproof and waterproof, but I can’t imagine anyone going for a swim with this thing on – it’s not as unobtrusive as certain fitness trackers, so you’re always quite aware that you’re wearing one and you’re more likely to slip it off before diving in the pool.
To setup the LG G Watch you’ll need to have a device running android 4.3 or better. Simply download the Android Wear app onto your device and it will pair up with the LG G Watch.
Once paired up, you’ll receive any notifications on your LG G Watch. The device vibrates slightly whenever there’s a new notification, and you can simple tap it to scroll through more information, or swipe it to dismiss. You also have the option to open any notification on your smartphone with a simple tap, provided that your phone’s screen is unlocked.
While this all sounds remarkably seamless, in reality it’s not. The screen on the LG G Watch is absolutely terrible outside, and there’s no auto-brightness setting so you’ll either be squinting or covering your watch to actually read anything. Also the screen often refused to wake up when I twisted my wrist – it took an exaggerated turning of my wrist for the accelerometer to register and turn on the screen. This sort of defeats the purpose of wearing such a device – it’s supposed to be a discreet notification system, and not one where I have the flail my arms to wake it up.
The LG G Watch allows you to use voice recognition for basic search actions. Simply say “Ok Google’ at the watch face or tap on the clock to activate it – as long as it’s paired with your smartphone, you can do web searches, navigate with Maps, and call someone from your Address Book. Unfortunately, voice recognition was quite spotty at times, and often I just picked up my phone to get the task done quicker. You can’t use the LG G Watch for phone conversations, but you’re able to quickly answer or dismiss an incoming call with a simple swipe. You can also use the G Watch as a step counter, and it intuitively shows the steps you’ve taken throughout the week. There are a number of limited apps that you can download from the Play Store which will appear on your G Watch.
The internal 400mAh gave me 2 straight days of usage with the screen always on. With the “Auto Screen Off” feature turned on, I got a total of 4 days of use out of it.
The LG G Watch is the first of many new devices that will be introduced by Android Wear, but therein lies its biggest flaw. Because it’s a new device, there are very few useful apps available for it. There are also plenty of usability annoyances, with the unreadable screen being one of the biggest ones for me. The sketchy voice recognition is another disappointment, as is the fairly mediocre design choices. It’s still early days for the LG G Watch, so we’ll have to wait a few more months for more developers to make it into a device you would actually want.
Available now from safaqati.com
+ Integrates easily into Android
+ Dust and waterproof
- Disappointing screen brightness
- Sketchy voice recognition
- Uninspiring design
- Limited apps
A former IT & Marketing Manager turned full time Editor, Nick enjoys playing videogames during work hours and tinkering with the latest gadgets.
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