My family bought me an android watch for Christmas.
This gift is giving me a mental workout because I haven’t worn a watch since October 2009. I stopped wearing a watch then because I was getting time from other places, most often my cell phone. Now, six years later, I’m trying to get use to strapping on a device around my wrist again.
But the game has changed. This watch runs a flavor of android and communicates with my phone. It’s a little more than a time-piece which means I’m trying to determine how functional it is for my everyday routines. Or to be fair I’m evaluating if might change some of my routines to benefit from the device. (My wife tells me that I’m often so practical that I’m impractical.)
The first feature to set is the watch face. Since it’s electronic I was able to choose from multiple watch faces. There are enough faces in the Google Play store to have a different face for each occasion or do to suit different tastes. It’s like being able to wear a new watch every week!
The biggest feature I found with the watch is that it extends notifications from the phone. Essentially, if an app on the phone has a notification then it can show on the watch as well. Different apps have different levels of functionality on the watch. Some of them are read-only notifications, while others allow interaction with the information.
- Text messaging – The watch will vibrate when a new text message arrives. I can read the message and reply to the text by speaking. The voice recognition has been near perfect.
- GPS maps – I use Google maps on occasion and it will display the map on the watch face. I didn’t find this all that useful. But I may not have used it to the full capability.
- Emails – The watch can be setup to let me know when new emails arrive and I can read and respond to them.
- Incoming calls – The watch vibrates on an incoming call. With my model I can ignore or answer the call. But the watch does not support voice. If I answer the call from the watch it requires that I use the phone. Note: My mom would really like this feature but don’t tell her I have it. Since I don’t carry my phone around the house it takes away my excuse that I didn’t have the phone with me when she called.
You might be thinking that it would be overload to have all the notifications from the phone mirrored to the watch. The good thing is that can block individual apps from mirroring notifications. I did this right-away with work emails because it was a constant buzz on my wrist!
A colleague’s experience.
I asked a colleague for some examples of what he used his android watch to do because he is going through the same process. He likes the message mirroring because he often has his phone in his pocket and the watch allows him to quickly see the message without having to take the phone out.
He also uses the built-in timer on the watch when he is cooking something which enables him to walk out of the kitchen but still be alerted when the time has expired. I didn’t realize he was a big cook!
But he’s gone a step farther than me with the voice recognition. He will use the voice recognition to initiate and complete messaging activities. For example he will say “OK – Google, Text John Doe mobile phone. Hi John – I will be there in 10 minutes.” The text message is transcribed and sent without ever touching the phone. Another example, “OK Google. Email John Doe Work. Hi John – I am confirming our meeting tomorrow morning at 10am.” The email app picks the email address for John Doe at work and sends the message.
The voice recognition features are the primary piece of functionality that makes the watches useful. Initiating and executing activities through voice command takes away the need for the keyboard and allows more flexibility for communication. It can be much faster too when you get the hang of it. You can imagine a day when kids will look at our QWERTY keyboards in a museum.
Watch faces will eventually be replaced with holograms extending from the device. I know, I know. They had that in Star wars in 1977. But our guys are still figuring out how to reverse engineer it.
Let me know if you are in the processing of unlocking the potential of a Smart Watch. I’d like to know what practical features you have found with it.
Onward and Upward!