Nov 6th, 2014

Mad Wear

Android Wear has already improved a lot since it was first announced. There is still a lot of room for improvement. Now that the hype and excitement has worn off I can look at my smartwatch more critically. I like Android Wear a lot, but it’s far from perfect. There are several things that really annoy me when I’m using my Android Wear device. Here are 7 things I hate the most about Android Wear.

1. Card/Notification Management

LG G Watch Android Wear DSC06106

The biggest thing I hate about Android Wear is card management. Cards can be notifications from your phone, Google Now cards, or prompts from Wear apps. No matter where the card comes from interacting with them is the same. Swipe from the left to remove it, or swipe from the right to get more options. It’s a rudimentary system that desperately needs more.

Can’t Undo – If you accidentally remove a card there is nothing you can do. It’s gone forever. Sayonara. That’s a major problem. Swiping away cards in the Google Now phone app has had a solution for this problem for a while. A simple toast notification pops up and asks if you want to “undo” removing a card. Android Wear needs something similar.

undo

Viewing Old Cards – Seeing old cards/notifications would also be nice. For example, when using your phone you can open Hangouts to reference an old text message. I should be able to do the same on my watch. It would be nice if there was a sort of “notification center” that showed a history of dismissed notifications.

Card Order – As it is now, the stream of cards is pretty much decided by Google. Most of the time it’s not an issue, but there are certain occasions where I want the control. I wish I could pin certain cards to the top of the stream, or send other cards to the bottom. There are also times where I would like to remove a card from my watch, but keep the notification on my phone.

Cards and notifications management needs to get a lot better.

2. Card “Peek” Size is Inconsistent

One little thing that annoys me is the inconsistent size of cards in their “peek” state. This is what you see when a card is sticking up over the top of your watch face. On some watch faces the card is small and discreet, but on others it takes up half of the display. The  latest Android Wear update made the situation even worse, as you can see in my Google+ post above.

I would love to be able to choose what size is used. Right now it’s determined by the watch face you use, but I think it should be a universal setting in the Android Wear companion app. The best solution right now is to choose “None” in the “Card preview” settings.

3. Launching Apps

lg g watch moto 360 apps_5

This one is tricky. I can recognize that launching apps without your voice is a pain, but I don’t think the current 3rd-party “launchers” are the answer. A launcher just doesn’t feel right on a watch. But still, the process for launching apps needs to be better. It can even be difficult to use your voice if the app you’re trying to open has a strange name (such as IFTTT). What’s the answer to the problem? I’m not sure. I’d like to see more functionality from the hardware button the Moto 360. Maybe a double-click goes straight to the app list?

4. Built-in speaker

wear answers

Speaking of talking to your watch, one thing I really miss is the ability to hear answers aloud. When you perform a voice search with Google Now on a phone you usually get a nice spoken reply. Android Wear devices don’t do this. Granted, this is not so much a problem of the software as it is the hardware, but we haven’t seen any manufacturers add speakers. I’m wondering if that is due to a limitation set by Google or a product of trying to make tiny devices. It would be nice to have the option to hear responses.

5. Can’t Choose Default Messaging Apps

360 defaul apps

The Android Wear companion app allows users to choose default apps for navigation, playing music, setting a timer, taking notes, and much more. One thing that is missing is the ability to choose a default app for sending messages. If you want to send a text message you are stuck with using Hangouts, and if you want to send an email you have even fewer options.

Android allows users to choose a default SMS app, and it uses that app when you use Google Now to send a text with your voice. Why can’t Android Wear do the same thing?

6. Muting Google Maps Navigation mutes it forever

Moto-369-pic

One of the coolest features of an Android Wear device is getting Google Maps navigation instructions right on your wrist. The device will vibrate your list every time a new direction comes up, and you can still hear instructions from your phone if you wish. It’s really cool. However, a few weeks ago I found a really annoying bug.

I was using the awesome Google Navigation instructions on my watch when I decided to pull over to stop for food at McDonald’s. As I’m walking into the building my phone continues to shout at me to make a left turn. I tap the “mute” button from my watch expecting it to silence the navigation until I’m ready to drive again. Little did I know that I was actually adding it to the list of apps that can’t send notifications to the watch. This was very confusing to me when Navigation suddenly stopped appearing on my watch.

7. Content Gets Cut Off on Round Display

wear cut off

When Google announced Android Wear they were very proud that it could work on both square and round displays. It does indeed work on both shapes, but the experience is not the same. I assumed that Android Wear would show content slightly differently to accommodate for less screen real estate on round displays. I was wrong. Some content gets cut off by the round shape of the Moto 360 display. If Google wants OEMs to continue making round displays they need to make the software adjust accordingly.

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Overall the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to Android Wear. I’m very happy with my experience, but it would be even better if these things were fixed. What things do you hate about Android Wear? Do you agree with the list I’ve made? Let me know below if these things annoy you too, and share your other complaints about Android Wear as well. Google, are you listening?

 

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