y Android ar is the smartest smartwatch platform yet

BY GreenBot Staff

Published 25 Jul 2014

The first few Android ar devices on the market could be described as inelegant, if you’re being kind. The G tch Gear ve are both somewhat bulky, not the most attractive pieces of technology ever developed, but there’s something incredibly important going on inside them.

Strapping one of these chunky watches to your wrist instantly changes the way you interact with your smartphone. Android ar has a shot at being a transformative technology on the level of the id, this is why.

It saves your phone’s battery

Android ar is explicitly not a phone platform, even though some people seem to want to treat it like one. Developers have already created experimental keyboards, file managers, web browsers, other poorly optimized experiences for ar. But these apps are missing the point of Android ar as a smartwatch OS—it’s supposed to assume many of your phone’s low-level duties, not replicate your phone on your wrist. Sounds minor, right? en you add up all these little features, you get a big chunk of mobile computing, it happens all on a watch.

roid phone wake time
A phone’s battery life levels off nicely when using ar for the little things.

Think about how many times in a day you wake up your phone just to see what time it is or to check for new messages. It’s probably dozens of sleep/wake cycles at least. Android ar can tell you the time (duh), show you notifications, let you reply to messages, even run some very limited apps that bring in contextual data from your phone. For example, the money-tracker app vel alerts you on the watch when a large charge appears on your linked bank accounts. You can get the gist of what’s going on, but if you want more information, the watch app opens the full app on your phone.

Getting the basics from deeply integrated apps services on your watch means the phone stays asleep longer its battery takes less of a beating. recently analyzed Android’s battery usage found that every second the screen is on burns through two minutes of potential stby time. From my purely anecdotal experience with ar, my phones easily see 15 to 20 percent less drain over the course of a day, even with that active Bluetooth connection. Android ar saves your phone for the times you actually need it to be a phone.

The right stuff out of the box

is hasn’t started from scratch with Android ar app support. Any device running Android 4.3 or higher will be able to send actionable notifications over to the watch. For example, if a notification shade item features buttons (like play/pause in Netflix), they automatically work on ar without any additional tweaking.

In fact, the ar app can route notifications only to the watch keep your phone’s notification shade nice clean. st having your notifications some app integration isn’t enough to transform how you use your phone, but luckily, that’s not all ar does.

It also ties into Now to show you relevant cards based on your location the time of day. It’s the same experience you’d get by going to Now on the phone, but it’s right there on your wrist. Have an appointment coming up? Your watch will tell you when to leave.

You see the power of Now when you check it while away from home, but how often do most people pull out their phone to load it up? Android ar puts the most important cards front center on your watch to deliver data before you even ask for it. This is the perfect solution for a watch, which necessarily has limited input options.

roid wear cards
ar shows you useful cards based on time location.

Because we’re talking about a tiny 1.6-inch screen, typing is an absolute no-go. Oh, there’s already an experimental third-party keyboard for ar, but you don’t want to get involved with that. built ar interactions around voice comms, taps, swipes, with no text entry fields.

Android ar is always listening for the “OK ” comm, so you can quickly launch apps, send messages, perform searches. The only reason this makes any kind of sense on a smartwatch is the robustness of Knowledge Graph—those cards you see at the top of some search results. You don’t want to scroll through a list of blue links on a watch, just to end up opening them on your phone’s browser, the cards help you avoid that. It’s like had wearables in mind when it built out its semantic search capabilities. And maybe it did.

roid wear google services
You can use voice comms to call up information without even touching the screen.

Android ar doesn’t have a massive feature set, but it doesn’t need to. Smartwatches aren’t going to take over for the smartphone in your pocket; they work best when your phone watch share the load. This is exactly what Android ar does, once the first-generation kinks are ironed out ( more attractive hardware arrives), it might seem like a no-brainer to pick up a smartwatch just to make your phone better.