I Bought a Google Wear Smartwatch with My Own Money. Here’s Why.
(Daniel Bean/Yahoo Tech)
Some inside baseball: Most of the tech experts who have reviewed Google’s new smartwatches were either shipped loaner units to try or just handed devices at the Google I/O developers conference, where Android Wear was officially launched in June. But me? I pulled my wallet out and forked over my own green for a brand-new LG G smartwatch.
My friends and colleagues don’t understand. Most of them, I think, believe too much of what they read, in particular all the tech experts dishing out their usual “no reason to jump on this gadget bandwagon at launch” spiel.
And it’s not like I’m a rabid “early adopter.” I don’t spend every penny Yahoo pays me on each new gadget that hits the shelf. I’ve been around. I’ve seen (and avoided) enough weird trends and overpriced, one-off gizmo duds. There’s no Google Glass on my face. Not now and maybe not ever.
So why the watch? I have my reasons.
A new gadget platform doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and nobody wants to buy into a system that looks like it will flop. For the new Google smartwatches, support is built in. At launch, most Android app notifications already show up on the Wear watches. And a fair number of companies, like Runtastic, MediSafe, and Delta, have already begun developing specialty smartwatch functions into their own apps.
ESPN’s SportsCenter notifications appear on my wrist now. (Daniel Bean/Yahoo Tech)
And with Android Wear, I like that Google is taking a firm-grip approach. The platform is not so open that it will fragment, like Android phones have, into dozens of gadgets that all work somewhat differently. In fact, every Android Wear smartwatch will act like a veritable Nexus smartwatch, meaning that the software will be pure Google on every Wear watch, despite the hardware maker it’s coming from.
That last part also means that the watch I just bought, much like a Nexus smartphone or tablet, will get software updates straight from Google. So unlike Android smartphones, there will be no need to relearn a proprietary version of Google software each time you buy a device from a different hardware vendor. You can basically grab any Wear watch and know exactly how its software will work.
Price and focus
The best part of the Android Wear product is the Google ecosystem, and that’s essentially free, once you’re in the door. I opted to get onboard with the LG watch, which is the first fully Google-backed smartwatch. It cost me $229.