The other two Android Wear personalities — less expressive and a little more subdued — on display at Google I/O this week were Samsung’s newly-announced Gear Live and LG’s previously announced G Watch.
We had a chance to play with both for a brief time, and came away impressed with the G Watch’s compactness — it’s some 10mm shorter than Samsung’s — and the Gear Live’s smooth edges.
The G Watch, which sells for $20 more than the Gear Live, feels smaller despite having an ever-so-slightly larger screen. It is, however, lower resolution at 280×280 pixels than the Gear Live’s, which matches its Gear 2 relative at 320×320 pixels.
As we broke down in our official specs guide, the G Watch has a 100mAh larger battery but lacks the heart rate monitor of the Gear Live. Indeed, while the G Watch is a boring-looking black (or white gold) square, focusing more on the software than what lies outside, the Gear Live appears to be an almost exact replica of the Gear 2, without the accompanying home button below 1.63-inch screen.
Both devices are water resistant and charge via Pogo plugs and accompanying USB-based cradles. They both have always-on “glanceable” screens and replaceable plastic straps.
And, unfortunately, both lack the luxurious feel of the Moto 360, which will likely fetch a $100+ premium when it debuts later this summer.
As for Android Wear itself, this is really the centrepiece; as we wait for developers to add their magic to existing apps, even as they are today the Android Wear platform is a natural extension of your smartphone. While most of the hard work is done on the smartphone, being able to attend to notifications, which disappear on your phone when dismissed on the watch, is a treat.
Being able to take notes with voice and see context-appropriate results through Google Now is fantastic — it’s like the Pebble on steroids — but at this point, it appears limited by its newness. Obviously, as the platform matures and developers take the SDK for a spin, actual Android Wear apps will get created, and new experiences augmented, that will improve its usefulness. At this point, it’s very much a work in progress, but one with heaps of potential.
We’ll have a full review of both Android Wear smartwatches in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.