Google’s Sexy Smart-watches Make Me Mad

This week, Google released a new platform for smartwatches, and I am livid.

No, I’m not upset at Google.  The new platform, known as Android Wear, looks to be the best system yet for smartwatches. The first devices announced on the platform, the Moto 360 (from Motorola), and the LG G, both look absolutely beautiful.

No, what I’m upset about, is that I just got my first smartwatch this week, a Pebble ($150). It’s a lot of fun, but it pails in comparison to Google’s latest offering (of course, I’ll have a full review here soon).

moto 360 smart watch wearable

No Longer Just a Trinket

What I’ve found with my Pebble, is that it’s more of a novelty than a “must-have”. It’s cool to be able to check texts, and emails, and news from my wrist, but because the Pebble has only a few buttons, rather than a touch display, the interactivity is limited.

The devices unveiled so far for Android Wear appear to be much more functional. They have touch, color displays, and voice commands, based on Google’s excellent “Google Now” service (similar to Apple’s Siri).

Already, we know of the following features:

  • Full Google search
  • Navigation
  • Step-counting
  • e-tickets (you can use your watch as a ticket to concerts, flights, etc.)
  • Voice replies

Just having the ability to reply to a text by voice makes a smartwatch so much more valuable, because it truly means we can keep our phones in our pocket.

Better Looking

Smartwatches, to be fair, aren’t really watches at all. They’re wrist-based computers, and that shows in how thick and bulky they are. Up until mid-last-year, every smartwatch looked awful.

Now, smartwatch makers are finally getting design-conscious. The new Galaxy Gear 2 models are a bit thick, but pretty good looking. The new Pebble Steel is beautiful.

Google is pulling in watchmakers, and fashion designers to design Android wear devices, which means that we might finally see some beautiful smartwatches. Motorola’s Moto 360 looks great. Hopefully we’ll see a smartwatch with interchangeable bands (because for some reason, no manufacturer does that).

Fully Extendable + Open

Unlike every smartwatch to come before it (looking at you, Galaxy Gear), Android Wear devices are completely open to developers and manufacturers. Manufacturers of smart devices can add just about anything into their Wear Watches, like heart-rate monitors and accelerometers, and developers are free to develop apps around that, just as they already do for the Android platform.

Pebble does have a small third-party app store, but due to the limitations of the watch, most apps don’t do much. The extendability of Android Wear is really valuable.


Why I Won’t Be Buying One

I won’t be buying an Android Wear device, as amazing as they do look, because I doubt they’re going to function well, if at all, with iOS devices. Android Wear devices are very open, in that they can be used on many different Android phones, but they’re not going to be built for iOS. For reasons explained here, I’m loyal for now, and I don’t see that changing.

Still, if these watches ever came to iOS, I’d be all over them. I guess I’ll just have to hold out for the iWatch…

VIDEO: Android Wear in action

Michael Sitver

Michael Sitver is a technology insider who has been blogging about technology since 2011. Along the way, he's interviewed founders of innovative startups, and executives from fortune 500 companies, and he's tried dozens or hundreds of gadgets. Michael has also contributed to works featured in Newsday, The San Francisco Chronicle, and the associated press. Michael also occasionally consults, and writes for Seeking Alpha and Yahoo News.

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