I’ve now had about a day with the LG G Watch, and in that time the device only left my wrist when I lay my head down to sleep. It’s my first experience with Android Wear, Google’s magical new wrist-based operating system, and so far I’m finding the platform and the device to be unique and genuinely useful additions to my mobile world.
First the watch itself – my initial impressions from a few minutes of use left me with the feeling that it was at least as comfortable as a standard wristwatch, and longer use has reinforced that impression. The watch is light, and the face, while fairly large, isn’t too big as long as you don’t have tiny wrists. LG claims to have designed for everyone, regardless of wrist type and gender, but it’s still going to look large on smaller arms.
The watch surprisingly supplements my smartphone usage pretty nicely. Google has clearly put a lot of thought into Android Wear, and what to include, as well as what to leave out. The notifications it provides come in exactly as they come in to the phone, and they reside at the bottom of the interface until you swipe up to reveal them. With apps optimized for Wear, you can open up to the relevant page within an app from the watch, and you can also reply to messages in apps like Hangouts via voice input.
Voice input on the G Watch is solid. I rarely encountered any errors in terms of transcription, and that includes in multiple environments, such as the noisy surrounds of the Google I/O After Hours party last night. Activating functions with “Ok Google” worked well, too, and I found myself using my voice to command my watch a lot more than I ever would’ve imagined I would.
The buttonless design of the LG G Watch presents some interesting challenges; figuring out how to turn the device on took some time, for instance, and I had to eventually resort to reading the included paper instruction booklet to find out that you have to put it in the magnetic charging cradle to power it up.
From there, set up was also a bit tedious. Some of that was due to the fact that I was using pre-release developer software to get it going. Also, the watch has to load software and perform a series of actions during which it tells you to wait a minute, hold on, etc. multiple times. Hopefully this is streamlined in time for the consumer ship date of July 7.
The bottom line is that Google’s Android Wear is a smartwatch interface that makes sense and gives you what you need. Google Now notifications would pop up to tell me weather, remind me of tasks I’d set earlier and more. Quickly replying to text, email and Hangouts messages with canned responses or by voice is a big time saver. In general, they’ve put what you need on your wrist, and left out what you don’t.
Does that mean Android Wear will finally open the floodgates for wearable tech? Likely not just yet, but it definitely moves the category forward, and LG’s G Watch is a solid early contender. We’ll have longer-term impressions in a full review to follow later on.