Sunday, July 6, 2014

A Collection of Android Wear Reviews

I went through the current 300 or so current smartwatch articles on Google News and tried to pick out all of the Android Wear review articles. I excluded articles that were simply a review of a specific smartwatch or feature comparisons between the two new Android Wear watches -- the article had to be at least partially reviewing Android Wear. These days, articles are reprinted in many publications, I am trying to provide only one link for each article.

The tone of the vast bulk of these articles indicates that smartwatches are unlikely to catch on any time soon.

With each article, I provide a quote that I believe summarizes the article's feeling about how ready Android Wear smartwatches are.

Not yet time for Android Wear smart watches
"While it's surely helpful to glance at notifications that pop up on your wrist for incoming e-mails, Facebook feeds and sports scores, it's typically not that much more helpful than reaching for your phone. Too many notifications risk bordering on distraction."

Samsung Gear Live Review: That's a Pretty Big Baby Step | Gizmodo India
"Whether you believe that smartwatches are the inevitable future or that they're the Devil's own handcuffs, almost everyone can agree that they've been pretty weak so far. Android Wear is here to fix that. And it just might! Eventually. Samsung's Gear Live is the first attempt, and while it's got some issues, it's a great first shot."

Android Wear review: Google Inc software is primitive, but could help developers make smartwatches smarter | Financial Post
"Android Wear isn’t quite there yet as a must-have product, but I can only imagine what it will evolve into in the months and years ahead. It helps that there’s now a unified system that software developers can focus on improving."

Android Wearable Tech Is About Simplifying Our Future (Associated Press Story)
"We've been talking about wearable tech for several years, but there's still a long way to go before wearable computing really catches on. For its part, Android Wear is still rather limited in what it can do, but new software may now encourage app developers to extend smartwatch functionality, the way they have made smartphones even smarter."

LG G Watch review | Re/code
"The LG G Watch and Android Wear provide a promising glimpse at what’s to come in smartwatches. But with more models and software improvements on the horizon, you’d be wise to wait and see before strapping one of these early devices on your wrist."

Google's New Smartwatches Can Do Everything, And That's Their Biggest Problem
"Android phones already do a great job at managing the massive number of notifications we get by putting them in a handy drop-down menu. But on the watch, you're forced to swipe through everything before you get to what you want to see." ...
"Android Wear is an impressive system that pushes us closer to what a smartwatch should be, but we're not there yet."

Google smartwatch review roundup: Android Wear put through its paces | Technology |
(This article is also a collection of reviews)
"First impressions of Google's smartwatches are positive, but their software still needs work"
(I removed an extraneous "is" before the word still above.)

Android simplifies smart-watch technology - Toledo Blade
"Available in two smart watches out within the next week, Android Wear is rather limited in what it can do. Even last year’s smart watches do some things that Android Wear can’t."

Review: One week with Android Wear
"Gizmag recommends Android Wear watches right now to early adopters and smartwatch enthusiasts wanting a glimpse of the most badass wearable platform to date. But everyone else might want to wait until the devices running Android Wear get a little smaller, thinner and prettier ... more like Rolexes and less like tiny smartphones."

Android Wear smart watch gets a bit of a mixed response from reviewers : PERSONAL TECH : Tech Times
"But, again, the new devices are the first of their kind, so why not wait? More devices will be coming into the market, and reports suggest other accessory manufaturers like Fossil. Apple's device will release its own wearable tech with similar features. It might just be worth it to wait for the market to produce more options."

Android Wear review: Taking smartwatches in the right direction
"For now, Wear is the best OS for Android users who are in the market for a smartwatch, but since these devices aren't necessities, they'll need to be more stylish and add more convenience to your life if they're going to attract the average consumer. Unfortunately, the Gear Live and G Watch just don't have what it takes for Wear to go mainstream, although I'm holding out hope for the Moto 360."

Why Android Wear faces a tougher fight than you think - CNET
"It's not impossible by any means, and I'd love to see one manufacturer or one app developer make it, in one elegant swoop, abundantly clear why the smartwatch is the new must-have gadget. But if you think back to Microsoft's poor old SPOT watch, it's clear that without this lightning bolt of brilliance, the battle to make the smartwatch popular may be a tougher fight than Google -- or anyone -- had anticipated."

Samsung Gear Live review: Finally a smartwatch you could wear every day
(This article is the only Android Wear review I found that comes anywhere close to actually recommending you buy something. Even here it's full of caveats.)
"If you’re desperate to get your hands on a decent smartwatch right now, however, the Gear Live is the choice to make."

Samsung Gear Live Review - Android Wear Smartwatch
"VERDICT : Samsung's Gear Live offers a built-in heart-rate monitor and easy access to your latest notifications, but Android Wear doesn't feel fully baked."

LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live review: Android Weary |
"A Work in Progress"

UPDATED - This review came in after my original post:
Android Wear Is Here, and It’s Ready to Rule Your Wrist | Gadget Lab | WIRED
"These are the first truly useful smartwatches to hit the market. They aren’t for everyone, they can be annoying, and both have lots of rough edges to the interface. But if you find them intriguing, and have $200 to spend, go for it. And really, we can’t wait for more."

UPDATED 7/8/2014 - Two more reviews:

Google’s Android Wear Smartwatch Software: An Interesting, Unfinished Idea
"A more fully-fleshed out version of the software running on second-generation software, with more third-party apps, could fix all that. And with more wearables on the way–including, apparently, ones from Apple and Microsoft–Android Wear will likely have to get better quickly to stay competitive. Which means that even if you find the basic concept intriguing, as I do, there’s no need to rush one of these first devices onto your wrist."

Google's Android Wear: 13 things you should know - CNET
"So, should you buy one?
No. Not yet, anyway. Wait, for Android Wear software to evolve and for other watches to arrive, to see if one is better. Right now, the options are slim and compromised...but there are some slim advantages to each. Wait for the Moto 360 to be unveiled later this summer, see what software changes and possible firmware updates hit these early watches, and be patient. These aren't worth it yet."

UPDATED 7/10/2014 - Numerous additional reviews:

Google smartwatch review: should you Wear Android? - Telegraph
"For early adopters who like to be Google’s guinea pigs, they’re well worth the £169 price tag. For everyone else, there are years to wait for cheaper, effortlessly useable products."

Google Android Wear first look: Gadget Watch
"With Apple heavily rumoured to be working on a smartwatch of its own, it might be worth taking a wait-and-see approach to devices powered by Android Wear at this point."

Samsung Gear Live First Impressions and Photos
"The central question, of course, is whether a smart watch or other wearable will ever become a truly indispensable smart phone companion, or whether this is just technology for technology's sake. I'm leaning to the latter, but I won't prejudge. We'll see how it goes out in the real world."

Samsung Gear Live: Hands-on with Android Wear
"The entire Android Wear platform is still in its infancy, to say the least, but after just a few minutes of usage you can obvious see the direction Google is headed."

Android Wear Needs To Be More Thoughtful About Bugging You | TechCrunch
"If we’re going to all have smartwatches tied to our phones, they should be designed with that paradigm in mind. They should expect us to already have a constant stream of interactive data coming in at all times — which means that when we look at our wrists, it should only show what’s really important in a particular moment."

I Bought a Google Wear Smartwatch with My Own Money. Here’s Why.
(This story may say that it is "ready"... but read it... it's really only ready for him.)
"And beyond the “cool toy” part, I do see a greater potential. The place where I part from my skeptical colleagues is that, instead of waiting for some arbitrary time in the future when the smartwatch idea is “ready,” I think it’s ready enough now."

Ok Google, No Google, Help Google: The first few hours with Android Wear - Pocket-lint
"But it's only halfway through the day. There's a reminiscence of the night before, getting messages from the other half telling us to go home. Android Wear has started nagging, already. We shoot a joke about having a Wrist Wife to a friend."

Android Wear Review: The Watch That Wants to Save You From Your Phone | TIME
"Until the hardware and software are further along, saving yourself from your phone should probably wait."

3 great and terrible things about Android Wear | Android |
"As a first public version of the platform Android Wear shows a lot of promise, but there’s more than a couple of kinks that need to be worked out."

Review: Smartwatches don't live up to all of the hype -
"  'It's definitely going to take time'
When a digital device is new to the market, it evolves over years and new versions. Think back to when cell phones were the size of an Arizona iced tea can, and the only way to store a song on them was to duct tape a cassette to the back."

Android Wear preview: this is how Google makes a smartwatch | The Verge
"But at the end of the day, the most important thing to remember about Android Wear is that it's essentially Google Now on your wrist. That has upsides and downsides. The upside is that when Google Now can nail the exact context of what you need and when you need it, it's ridiculously convenient. Walking into the airport and having your flight information waiting for you on your watch is incredible.

The downside is that Google Now isn't perfectly aware of what you need. You can't reorder notifications and you can't really be sure when some of them will reappear. So if you accidentally dismiss the weather, you're out of luck unless you want to do a voice search to check it again. Basically with Android Wear you are putting yourself at the mercy of Google Now and its algorithms."

Android Wear review: the everything inbox | The Verge
"All of which means Wear won’t save you from the Everything Inbox, it just makes it a little easier to keep tabs on your notifications. Beyond that, there’s no substitute for pulling your phone out and getting down to business."

[I won't be updating this further... surely 30 reviews is enough.]

Thursday, July 3, 2014

What I watched and noted from Google I/O 2014

My App Progress blog's take on Google I/O 2014.

My "live" blog of #io14.

Here's a document that gives a summary of what was announced. This results from
not only my own viewing, but compiling what was talked about across many sources.

Below are the videos I actually watched with ratings and notes.

Must See:


Polymer and the Web Components revolution

Polymer and Web Components change everything you know about Web development

Unlock the next era of UI development with Polymer

Polymer: Creating responsive UIs

Developing across Devices - Chrome DevTools in 2014
Very important information, so-so presentation.

What's new in Android

Material witness: How Android material applications work
This is MD for Android.
(I'm sure there are many more Android must see's but I'm not really interested.)


Maps Made Easier: GeoJSON in the Maps API


Fabulous Forms for the multi-device web
This one really ought to be in the Must See/Good category, but the puppet is more than annoying and makes it difficult to understand the material. Worse, it refers to users as "monsters". As a long time Unix/Linux systems admin/programmer... I abhorred the community referring to users as "lusers" (pronounced "losers"). "Monster" is perhaps even more abhorrent - even though here I'm sure it was meant in fun.

The ART runtime

Casting to the future

Didn't Like:

Building node.js applications with App Engine and Custom Runtimes
Why? Not much information about an App Engine feature that barely exists.
Containerizing the Cloud with Docker on Google Cloud Platform
This one is more detailed. But why do I want to complicate Docker with Google? Why would I run node.js on Google, when Joyent specializes in it?

How we built Chrome Dev Editor with the Chrome platform

  1. They make it look like they are developing that quickly... it's easy to hook up components that you've already created.
  2. Actually use the Chrome Dev Editor to create a hello world Dart app... it is hideous. Slow and bloated. The truth is that CDE is the clearest example I've seen that Dart is not ready for building real world applications.
Why? I find the arm twisting of users to use apps in the search results to be one the most obnoxious things Google has done. Android apps have far more access to your information than web pages do... this will only lead to abuse. One also has to wonder what's in this for Google.