Hands on Introduction to the LG G Watch

LG G Watch has been in the market for only a couple of months, I haven’t tried the watch (I’m slow…) and yet there are already rumours for the LG G Watch 2 or dubbed as the LG G Watch R! Rumours are set that the successor to the LG G Watch would be released at IFA next month. It is pretty much a certainty now that LG launched an official teaser video for their next wearable.

Technology trends are pointing towards the stagnation of smart phones with adoption reaching saturation. New potential markets are now the focus as companies start sizing the market and acquisitions and product innovations are heating up in markets such as wearables, virtual reality, etc. Everyone seems to be betting on wearables – just for the upcoming month in September, we expect to see the Moto G Watch, a Smartwatch from Asus, Apple to announce their iWatch, and the LG G Watch successor.

LG offered a hands-on introduction to the G Watch. Thanks to them, I had the chance to satiate my curiosity on the G Watch. A quick overview on the LG G Watch – it is one of the two currently available watches on the Android Wear platform. Android Wear brings easy integration to your existing Google Android phone – it’s having Google Now on your wrist – offering information when Google thinks you need it most. Get messages from your friends, appointment notifications, and weather updates at a glance. In addition, there are a number of apps, watch faces available for download for greater customisation. One such application, the popular IM platform Whatsapp, Android wear app offers complete message preview, stacked notification for those multiple Whatsapp messages so you read them separately, and the ability to reply with a dictated message through your watch.

If you want to do something specific just say ‘Ok Google’ and the watch stands ready at attention to take your command. By using voice-activated relay commands, your LG G Watch is able to directly communicate with your Android Phone. Google Now notifications will automatically appear on the screen as they’re received or needed and you can cycle through them with a quick swipe, or tap on one to view it in detail and action it. For example if you have an appointment somewhere a tap on the card will show you the full address, and you can then choose to navigate there.

In this day and age, technology has become more than mere innovations or inventions. It has become a lifestyle. How many of us can live without our mobile phones today? Technological gadgets have become an extension of people and in turn, a part of their life.

The new LG G Watch aims to be the next spoke in the technological wheel. The pairing of the G Watch with your Android phones creates a seemingly endless stream of possibilities. We start to see the cusp of the convergence where the wearable and the phone merges to bring different types of media and applications; through technological convergence, we start to see the evolution of the second screen, and the LG G Watch is poised to see new functions developed for greater convenience and enhanced experience for the user.

Pairing the phone was pretty simple – I basically just install the Android Wear app, launch it – identify the device name, and press pair.

The watch was well built – and there’s a metal frame circling around the watch bezel. This is more pronounced in the white version. The strap is a standard silicone-based white / black strap. I thought it looked OK and complemented the smart watch look. The advantage here is that it uses the standard watch strap 22 mm connections so you can easily swap it out to your own preference.

Left: G Watch Original White; Mid & Right: Custom (Fossil)
Left: G Watch Original White; Mid & Right: Custom (Fossil)

To conserve battery the screen stays dim most of the time (you can choose to turn off the screen too). There’s an inbuilt motion sensor so if you raise your wrist or tap it the display will light up. When dimmed, the watch face is pretty hard to make out even in an indoor setting, but tilt it towards yourself and it comes alive. Outdoor performance might be an issue especially since there’s no inbuilt ambient light sensor. One improvement could be a way to switch brightness faster, something like a swipe across screen or status bar to increase / decrease brightness (like Android Wear Mini Launcher) or implement an ambient light sensor. Well problems are meant to be solved and there’s an app that offers some functionality to address this issue. Display Brightness for Wear implements brightness settings by using broad coarse (network) location on your phone to figure out about where you are. If it’s night, the watch brightness is always set to the lowest level. During the day, brightness will be set to either medium or high depending on what you’re doing. If you’re driving, for example, the brightness will be set to high. If you’re standing still, it goes to medium.

If you want to do something specific just say ‘Ok Google’ and your watch readies itself at attention to take your command. Some of the common ones are:

1. When’s my next appointment?
2. Navigate to Home
3. Send message to [ contact ]
4. Remind me to [buy milk] at [5 PM]”

Personally, I want a smart watch! The LG G Watch is a good choice too – the ability to access to notifications, useful and essential information right when I need it, without digging a smartphone out of my pocket — is compelling. Especially when one uses a 5.9” phone that’s rather hard to dig out from a seated position. As it is, I am hooked on PushBullet, which gives me that ability when I am in front of my computer.

I am just holding back for two things – price and battery life. The price at S$265 and discounted to around the S$240 range isn’t that bad but I am prepared to hold out a little longer, especially knowing that there are newer, better smart watches on the horizon. A sweet spot would be around the $150 range. Another critical aspect – battery life. While the LG G Watch can comfortably last a day, and maybe 1.5 days, that’s something I hope can be improved on. I already find it a hassle to charge my phone and having to worry for another device is not something I am quite keen about. In addition, you can only charge the LG G Watch through its cradle, which further limits options. All signs are pointing that wearables are indeed going to be the next big thing – and yes, my next tech gadget on my buy list is not a computer, phone, but a smart watch. It is the next step in technological evolution.

Sean

Sean is a tech geek and star wars fan. He loves playing with new gadgets, writing little code snippets in Python, JS, and dabbling with Android programming from time to time, while keeping a lookout for the next biggest happening in the world of tech!

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