Watches represented a long horological tradition. Then smartwatches came along and screwed everything up…Read More
Google was the first major tech company to enter the wearables market with its Android Wear platform. Like the Apple Watch, Android Wear devices (which are made by a variety of third party electronics manufacturers) have only been compatible with Android. Google changes all that by making Android Wear iPhone compatible.
The Verge's Dieter Bohn broke the story.
Very few people have had to bother grappling with the idea of notifications and computers on their wrists, because not all that many people are buying smartwatches. There’s a real sense that everybody’s waiting to see how things shake out, and I don’t blame them. Smartwatches aren’t really ready for everybody yet, not the way that smartphones are. But the smartphone comparison is apt: nothing drove innovation in that space faster than healthy competition between Apple and Google. If competition is what it takes to get smartwatches ready for the mainstream, even Apple Watch users should be glad about Android Wear coming to the iPhone.
Bohn is correct that smartwatches have not exactly sold all that well. While the Apple Watch has likely outsold all its competitors combined, Apple's wearable sales are small potatoes compared to the iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Google has had similar trouble selling Android Wear, but it now has a new strategy.
The app should be rolling out worldwide soon. It’s been a long time coming — and it means that Google will be challenging the Apple Watch on its home turf. Those Android Wear watches will be both cheaper and more varied than the Apple Watch — just like Android itself.
The iOS Android Wear app will allow newer watches to pair directly with an iPhone. The strategy borrows from Apple's playbook. In 2001, the iPod began as an Apple only device, but soon the Cupertino company made a version of iTunes for Windows. The strategy not only sold a whole lot more iPods, but it got Apple devices into peoples' homes. The iPod, and the iPhone in 2007, were huge Trojan horses. These devices encouraged customers to migrate to Apple's iPad and Mac computers. Is Google trying to do the same thing? Perhaps. The Android Wear experience is more limited on iOS than Android, due to Apple's restrictions. But, by providing a glimpse of what Android Wear can do on iOS, iPhone users could be swayed into converting to an Android phone to get the full experience.
The problem is that there are restrictions in iOS that prevent certain things from working. It’s easy (and partially true) to rail against the locked-down nature of the iPhone, but in our conversations, everybody at Google demurred from wishing they could do more. Instead, Google just worked with the tools that Apple makes available over Bluetooth — and they turn out to be quite powerful.
Now that Android Wear and Pebble both support iOS and Android, the Apple Watch has some clear disadvantages. Android Wear devices are varied in both design and price - with many models being priced at half the cost of Apple's entry level watch. If the Apple Watch is supposed to be the next runaway product that moves users toward the Apple ecosystem, it too might have to support other platforms in the future.
Source: The Verge
There is lots of debate surrounding which is the best mobile platform, and despite the difficulties of switching between them users do switch platforms for a variety of reasons. According to Christian Cantrell, writing for Read Write, wearables are designed to lock users in to a given platform.
Defecting from one mobile faction to another may be inconvenient, but it’s not yet impossible, which is why major platform players are inclined to steer their devices and services in a direction that increases not only their allure, but also the cost of abandonment. And an important new weapon of mass disincentive is wearables.
Cantrell divides wearables into two camps. There are platforms-independent wearables, such as Fitbit, Jawbone, Pebble, Garmin, etc. These devices will work on more than one platform, and though the experience might not exactly the same it's close enough to be tolerable. Platform-dependant wearables are ones that... well... work on one platform. Both the Apple Watch and Android Wear are prime examples, as neither will work without a corresponding iPhone or Android phone, respectively.
However, if Google ports Android Wear to iOS (as is rumoured) it's possible we will have a third category. A platform-preferred wearable, which is a device that will work across platforms but offers more functionality on one of them.
The problem with the prospect of pairing an Android Wear smartwatch with an iPhone is that—due to constraints that limit deep third-party OS integration, or simply fundamental discrepancies in platform features—you are likely to find yourself in a kind of purgatory where your experience is worse than if you were using an Android phone, and also not as good as if you were wearing an Apple Watch. Many iPhone users who try to use Google services exclusively are already familiar with this unfortunate dynamic.
Cantrell notes that things like doing payments probably won't work across different devices and platforms. Both Apple Pay and Android Pay require the wearable to be tied to it's preferred platform. This limiting experience isn't a deal breaker for those who are embedded one or another ecosystem, but it's bad for people who want a diversity of experiences.
While keeping wearables tied to a specific platform, it makes a lot of sense from the company's perspective. Apple only has about 18% of the global smartphone market, yet it makes the over 90% of the industry profits. Platform retention is profitable for companies like Apple, even more so than shipping more Apple Watches by making it cross-platform compatible. Predictable revenue is important to the company's stakeholders, and pursuing a strategy that continues this legacy is important.
The author concludes by saying that wearables are a double edged sword.
In exchange for freeing ourselves from one burden, we are agreeing to take on another. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t buy devices like smartwatches; it just means we should be fully aware of the fact that, as much as we’re strapping devices to ourselves, we are also strapping ourselves to our devices.
Apps are now being designed with smartwatches in mind, and that might affect how we think of apps as a whole.Read More
One could make the argument that style and hardware design are not essential components of a good smartphone, notebook, or even desktop computer. For most people, they just need a device that works. Yet, as mobile computing becomes increasingly intimate in nature, style will inevitably be a determining factor. There's a big difference between wearing a device on your wrist (or head) and something that only surfaces from the depths of your pocket.
Adriana Lee, writing for Read Write, talks about the importance of style when considering a wearable device. Slick design was not responsible for her foray into smartwatch territory. She became used to the Pebble Watch providing useful notifications and glanceable information; the transition to using an Android Wear device was a natural progression.
When I began checking out smartwatches last year, I didn’t realize how dependent I’d become on having alerts piped to my wrist. Now I’m obsessed with finding just the right device to deliver them.
This is a tricky mission. I’ve had a Pebble smartwatch strapped to me for several months. Now I’m running around with the LG G Watch, the first Android Wear device to hit the market. In between, I’ve peeked at numerous other contenders vying for the valuable real estate on my arm.
Though it has not become a mainstream product category yet, the wearable market is estimated to pull in $5.26 billion this year and $9.2 billion over the next four years. Style and comfort will likely determine which devices succeed and which fail. After all, these devices are visible to all our friends and colleagues.
Lee argues the LG G Watch (her first Android Wear device) does not have the necessary hardware sex appeal to entice buyers, particularly females.
The LG G Watch is just the beginning of what will probably be a flood of Android Wear watches. So it's possible that some of my criticisms will be addressed later on. What probably won’t, though, is this: The predominant design ethos yields an awfully clunky gadget that's just not comfortable to wear.
Like wrists tend to be, mine are rounded. The G watch’s large, unforgivingly straight body teeters on top, with the rubber strap lashing it in place. It feels like having a stiff board tied to my arm.
Battery life will also be a point of contention for future wearables. Lee notes that the Pebble afforded her 5-7 days of use, while the LG G Watch lasted a mere day and a half.
Android wear does seem to get it right on the software front, especially for a first generation product. Unlike Android - which comes in a variety of unpredictable flavours - Android Wear should be an identical experience on every devices, sans the hardware and performance differences. The Motorola 360 looks to have the best implementation of Google's new mobile platform, as it features a much more elegant design, round clock face, and premium materials. Not surprisingly, while Android Wear has garnered considerable excitement, everyone is waiting to see what Apple unveils. Though Android devices typically have a price advantage - as OEMs try to make their devices appealing to a broader audience - Apple might be able to get away with charging a premium in the wearable category and still leave its competitors in the dust. If style and sex appeal are in fact paramount factors to customers, companies like Apple (and perhaps HTC) will have the advantage.
Make sure to check out Lee's full article in the source below.
Source: Read Write