back to article You mean Google updated its smartwatch OS and nobody noticed?

Google has quietly brought improvements to its wearable OS that users have been asking for three years. And without much fanfare. With Android Wear 2.6, the text size of notifications now adjusts according to how long they are. It adds new connection status indicators for Wi-Fi Bluetooth and mobile network connectivity. Google …

  1. TheDataRecoverer

    Received my ZeTime last week - now that is a classy smart watch for reasonable money!

  2. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Devil

    Pssst... wanna buy some data?

    Please, please, please make branded smartwatches using our OS... you'll be able to tell where your customers are at any time - sounds good, doesn't it?

  3. gskr

    I find my Sony Smartwatch 3 very useful!

    It replaced a Moto 360 (gen1) when that ones battery capacity became too dire.

    The SW3 has an always on (transflexive LCD) Screen, and easily lasts 2 full days on a charge. Charging is very easy as it has a micro-USB connector, and will fully charge in under an hour. Would love an equivalent watch with Android Wear 2.0 (and NFC for android pay), but unwilling to pay mega-bucks for it, especially as the built in battery pretty much consigns any smartwatch to only a few years life, no matter how well it still works (or not).

    So I'd buy again if I can find the above (at a decent price), or possibly more if it retains all that + a replaceable battery. Who's going to step up and make it for me?

    1. CraPo

      Easy to charge?

      With the charging port tucked round the back, right near the hinge, even with the angled cable, it's a pain in the @rse. I like it though. I like I can check messages without having to get my phone out (at the dinner table) or easily see if whatever notification it is, is worth getting the phone out for. I also like making it a trusted device to smart unlock my phone so I'm not constantly doing it manually.

      I have the stainless steel strap and it's a really cr@ppy design which has broken once, took six months to get a replacement from Sony, and now that one is on the way out, and I don't fancy my chances of getting another from them.

      1. Jim 48

        Re: Easy to charge?

        @gskr: you echo my thoughts precisely, the transreflexive screen is a fantastic asset, no waving the watch around or pressing a button to see the time. I've not seen any of the current crop of devices that replicate it.

        @CraPo: I've got an adapter so I can use standard straps and currently have a two-piece NATO style strap. This completely exposes the back and makes charging a doddle. I did get a right-angle micro-usb which made it easier when I was using the standard rubber strap.

        I seem to have to reset the watch more and more as it starts missing notifications though. I've just upgraded to Oreo on a OnePlus Three and I'm not getting any text or calendar notifications.

        1. SimonAldrich

          Re: Easy to charge?

          I removed the rubber flap on my SW3 and put a magnetic micro USB plug (can't remember which but just search Amazon for "magnetic micro USB") in there so now the charging cable just snaps into place, much like an Apple magsafe charging cable. The plug is a snug fit in the micro USB socket and I've been out in all winds and weathers and it doesn't seem to have affected the water resistance of the watch.

    2. IHateWearingATie
      Unhappy

      Same her - I'd love to buy new shiny shiny but nothing has tickled my fancy yet so the SmartWatch 3 continues on...

    3. A Nonny Moose

      Another lover of the SW3 here. The transflective display is definitely the best thing about it, and the micro USB port means I can charge it at my desk if it needs a top up. I use mine to track my lunchtime walks with Google Fit, set reminders for my sieve of a brain, see my shopping list while shopping, get Google Authenticator and Steam Guard codes, and set timers for various things.

      The battery seems to be giving out though, so I might need a replacement soon, but it would really have to have:

      Android Wear

      Non flat tyre, Transflective display

      Standard charging port (micro USB, or I guess USB C)

      Ideally, heart rate monitor and sufficiently waterproof to be used while swimming, but could live without those.

  4. g00se
    Black Helicopters

    Shuffle

    I take it that, given Google's attitude to personal privacy, they'll quickly be able to identify with their inbuilt sensors who the world's w***kers are? I'd hazard a guess there's quite a strong correlation between that population and the one that would buy such a device in the first place ...

  5. Andy the ex-Brit

    Any recommendations for a solid, inexpensive Wear watch?

    I like having one for when I'm cycling, both to see who's calling/texting me, so I can decide whether to stop or not, and to start/stop Strava.

    In three years, I've been through:

    Pebble - screen died

    Another Pebble - stopped using when Strava stopped supporting it

    Moto 360 2nd gen - screen died

    I have no desire to keep spending $80-$150 every year to have a working one.

    1. James 51

      Re: Any recommendations for a solid, inexpensive Wear watch?

      I've had a pebble steel for almost three years now. The battery has taken a hammering, lasts about two or three days now compared to five when it was new but I still don't see anything else like it on the market (and I don't want any of that naff fitness stuff shoved in either).

      1. Andy the ex-Brit

        Re: Any recommendations for a solid, inexpensive Wear watch?

        Thanks. Unfortunately, Strava stopped support, so one of my two use cases is no longer there. I used to be able to start, stop, pause, and perhaps most importantly monitor that it was still recording (sometimes the phone app crashes,) all from my wrist. Then this:

        https://support.strava.com/hc/en-us/articles/216919327-Strava-ends-support-for-Pebble-Smartwatch

        So dumb. Like the manufacturer closing its doors means everyone stopped using their watches. Note, they didn't just stop developing the Pebble support--they removed the feature from the app.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Any recommendations for a solid, inexpensive Wear watch?

      I have no desire to keep spending $80-$150 every year to have a working one.

      At least you've spotted the trend.

      Realistically, any tech equipment retailing at those prices isn't going to be supported for more than a few moments after production ends, for reasons of simple economics. And similar logic dictates that the devices aren't built to last - why build a watch to last ten years, if you've no intention of supporting it for that long?

      If you don't want to keep shelling out (or buying an Apple watch), then the highest technology you should ever have on your wrist carries the word "Casio" on it.

      1. Andy the ex-Brit

        Re: Any recommendations for a solid, inexpensive Wear watch?

        "At least you've spotted the trend."

        Yes. I suspect it's somewhat inherent in packing so much tech into a watch-sized package. I've had other sub-$200 tech work well and be at least nominally supported for a decade or more:

        Garmin GPS (since stolen)

        Coby MP3 player

        DVD player

        Canon, Sony P&S cameras

        DSLR lenses

      2. WolfFan Silver badge

        Re: Any recommendations for a solid, inexpensive Wear watch?

        If you don't want to keep shelling out (or buying an Apple watch), then the highest technology you should ever have on your wrist carries the word "Casio" on it.

        Damn right. [looks at Casio on wrist] I spent $20 on this three years ago. When the battery dies I'll just get a new one, it's cheaper and faster than figuring out how to open the back and then hunting down a new battery for it. The probability of my buying a smartwatch approaches zero quite closely.

    3. ThomH

      Re: Any recommendations for a solid, inexpensive Wear watch?

      I've had a much better experience with health watches, though only monetarily.

      My 'shower-proof' 2014 [Intel/]Basis 1 suffered water ingress in 2016 and hence died. Despite being well out of warranty, I contacted customer support and was given a free replacement. That was nice momentarily, but then all the devices were recalled late last year. Full refunds all round though.

      So earlier this year I bought a Garmin. After about nine months the glue that holds the screen on came loose along one edge, the screen slightly protruded and, once again, water got in and killed it. Also out of warranty (because I'm in the USA, so those don't last long), but a free replacement was provided regardless. Which is what is currently on my wrist.

      Given that I had also picked up a second-hand Basis 1 for the wife very shortly prior to the recall for a pittance and then received a full original purchase price refund for it, I have now been wearing a sports watch for a bit more than three years and am almost £200 up on the deal. The current one even also does notifications and media controls and other things I don't care about.

    4. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Any recommendations for a solid, inexpensive Wear watch?

      I have my S5 on the handlebars in an Otterbox with a Quadlock mount. Why would you want a watch instead?

  6. ThomH

    Pedant's point

    The 2015 version of the Apple Watch ceased to be available in 2016; the 'Series 1' is a fairly quiet refresh introduced when the second-generation model came out. The Series 1 gains an extra processor core over the 2015 original: it goes from single core to dual core.

    No change in the requirement for every-day charging though. So not for me.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I bought a Fossil Q watch the other day - looks like a normal watch, several month battery life but allows you to specify 12 apps/contacts which when they call/text/show an alert will move the hands to that number and vibrate. It also (badly) tracks steps and sleep time. Has a few functions you can set the case buttons to perform as well.

    Took a couple of days to remember what was on what number but has worked out far, far, better than other smartwatches - no charging, no useless fitness features, always on time and a nice watch.

    I have no need to read the notifications on my wrist - have a phone for that. Is nice to know if it's worth pulling the phone out to check immediately though.

    That's why smartwatches don't sell - they don't work well as watches. This one is a watch first, smart thing second. And no tracking...

    1. Not also known as SC

      "...12 apps/contacts which when they call/text/show an alert will move the hands to that number and vibrate."

      That's actually kind of cool in a gadget type way. Do you have to press a button (or similar) to dismiss the aklert to send the hands back to the correct time? I'd probably forget and wonder why it was still 3PM all afternoon.

      1. Andy the ex-Brit

        Just have contact number 4 text you: it must be 4:20, time to go home!

  8. unwarranted triumphalism

    Funny how my mechanical watch never crashes, never needs recharging (auto winding before you dweebs make and smartarse comments) and never needs firmware updates.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      But it also can't be used on a PIN pad meaning you could leave most of your wallet at home.

      PS. That said, not at current asking prices. Plus I'm leery of the built-in battery. I wish there was a law mandating that all rechargeable batteries be removable for safety reasons.

  9. Paul

    I find that a smartwatch and a bluetooth headset make using my phone so much easier, I can leave it in my pocket whilst making phone calls, or listening to music or podcasts. If someone rings I can see who is calling and cancel the call or take it.

    Finally, I'd wear a watch anyway. I also have an old fashioned alarm clock by my bed.

    There have been many reports about people with insomnia due to waking up to play with their phone. I wonder how many people would sleep better if they had an old fashioned alarm clock or positioned their watch so they could tell the time at night even when half asleep, and go back to sleep, rather than waking enough to unlock their phone and end up responding to all their notifications?

  10. smartroad

    Love my LG G Watch R

    I got the LG G Watch R and I love it. Unlike all the pundits out there I had no illusions about a "smart" watch. All I wanted was something that could quickly and easily show me notifications from my phone so I wouldn't have to extract it (the phone) from my pocket just to find out that it was a junk email.

    I can get 2 days use out of it, if I turn it off at night. Plus it charges in about an hour. The screen is always on so can glance to tell the time without having to press a button or move my wrist.

    A few other functions get used, the timer is a main one. That said since Wear 2.0 I can't use maps as it doesn't seem to show anything and Google Now is really hit and miss with it often saying it can't do that right now.

    Other than that I love it. I can change the face of it to suit my needs at any time. Chunky digital for work or elegant analogue for an evening out.

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