Android Wear is Great – Right Up Until You Have to Use The App

A few weeks ago, I started wearing an Android Wear watch once again, the Ticwatch E.  I started wearing for the review of that watch but I quickly found that with the 2.x version of Wear, combined with solid hardware, that it was a great overall experience.  I’m a fan of this watch and I’m a fan of all that Android Wear, version 2.7 on my particular watch, has to offer me.

But as far as Wear as a platform has come, the app for Android is a horrible experience.  It may well be one of the most forgotten app that Google makes that is aimed at mainstream use by consumers.  It is a frustrating, half baked experience that Google needs to address if they have any hope of making the platform great.

First, let’s talk about the overall UI of the Android Wear app itself.  While the attempt has been made to bring a Material Design look to it, which is fine, there is virtually no information that is useful in the app’s main page.  I can change the watch face of my watch and I can see that my watch is connected.  But in order to get to any details about my watch like it’s remaining battery life or the amount of storage I’m using on it, I have to dive into sub-menus.  It would be far more useful to have this type of information, in chart form perhaps, right on the main page of the app.

While we are at it, with those of us who have Wear 2.x devices, why don’t you add the ability to search for and install apps for my watch right within the app?  It would be a simple shortcut to the Wear apps in the Play Store but it would take me right to where I want to be in the store to get new apps or watch faces.

Second, the overall stability of the app is less than ideal.  I often have the app simply stop working because it’s trying to communicate with my watch.  Or, in the case of being able to take a screenshot of my watch, it has never worked.  I’ve reset the watch, I’ve cleared the app’s cache and data and I simply cannot get it to take a screenshot of my watch.  Why is that important?  I’d like to show you, the readers of this site, how the app looks on your watch.  It is supported but I can’t show you and I can’t add screenshots to the app’s page listing to show it is supported.

I spoke to a friend about the Android Wear app a few weeks back.  He’s intimately familiar with the app and had a pretty profound statement regarding it:  “Unfortunately AW (the app) still has a way to go, little things work sporadically at best”.

This, in my opinion, has to change.  Google needs to sort out the Wear app and make it more useful, more informative and far more stable than it is today.   It is critical because if wearable devices from the company are going to try to compete with the Apple Watch, it has to be a great user experience and a useful experience.  Right now, the Android Wear app is neither.


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