I had been wearing the Huawei Watch, a $US449 Android-powered smartwatch, for about five days before I realised that my favourite feature was being able to tell the time by looking at my wrist.
It was time for some self-reflection.
The Huawei Watch is one of the latest from the Android Wear line of smart wearable devices — and one of the very first to support syncing with an Apple iPhone, which is how I use it.
Now, after more than a week wearing a Huawei Watch provided by Google, I can say that I don’t care for it very much. It doesn’t actually fulfil the mission of helping me look at my phone less.
It’s not really Huawei’s fault. Not entirely. Apple is notoriously protective of the iPhone’s ecosystem, and it’s a minor miracle that an Android watch can sync with an iPhone at all.
But as it stands, the only real superpower that using an Android Wear watch has going for it is that it pushes your phone’s notifications straight to your wrist with a little buzz. If you actually want to do anything about those notifications, you have to take your phone out of your pocket anyway.
The exception here is Gmail, which lets you either dictate a reply to an email straight into the watch, or doodle out a sketch while the watch tries to guess (with decent accuracy) which emoji you meant to reply with.
Oh, sure, there are a couple of other benefits. It has a Google Fit-powered fitness tracker, that keeps track of your steps. And it can show you what song is playing in your headphones and let you change the track.
And it has some basic functionalities, like the ability to do a Google search by speaking into the watch. But when you click a search result, it just pops it up as a link on your phone.
There are exceptions. If you ask Google the answer to certain questions, the answer does pop up on your phone — but this is only the case for search queries that Google in which Google has created specialised answer pages. The only time this ever worked for me in practice is when I was at a party and the topic of whether or not koalas have chlamydia came up. Turns out, they do! Thanks, Android Wear.
Other than that, and on the whole, Android Wear with iPhone just generally seems to buzz your phone a lot with a bunch of notifications that you can’t really do much about. Sometimes it doesn’t even do that reliably, often losing its connection for no real reason and being seconds or minutes late with incoming phone notifications.
And for every time that it let me surreptitiously check an email from my wrist, there were a dozen instances where the buzzing was a mere distraction, forcing me to divert my attention away from whatever I was doing. It’s especially frustrating and regressive given that I’ve personally put a lot of effort into not looking at my smartphone every three seconds.
Maybe I’d feel differently if I were using the Huawei Watch with an Android phone, or the Apple Watch with my iPhone, since you get more options for apps and watchfaces that way. But as it is, this experience hasn’t made me want to run out and drop a few hundred bucks either way.
If anything, maybe I should just look into a watch. Like a $US10 one. From Target.
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