The first attempt from LG to make a smartwatch based on the Android Wear OS from Google isn’t bad at all. The LG G Watch was announced alongside Samsung Gear Live and Moto 360 when Google launched a new OS for smart watches. It does look no different from any simple wrist watch, but LG has done a couple of blunders while making this – the strap, the battery. These are the two things I could point out blindly after a week of continuous usage where I could find no option to extend the battery life, while although the strap is changeable, who would really like to do that when they already are paying quite a lot to get a smartwatch?
The LG G Watch holds an advantage over the others because of one strong reason – the OS, which is a product of Google, the brand behind the open source Android OS. But for someone who expects to do a lot of stuff with the smart watch, would want the device to run for quite long before showing the empty battery warning. That’s the case opposite in LG G Watch, because not more than a day would the battery survive if the G Watch is connected to the smartphone.
You may read our LG G Watch Hands-on to know what we thought about the design of the LG G Watch, and these although were the first impressions, there’s nothing really different in the daily usage when looking at the design and size. Now, for the usage in different conditions – the 1.65-inch display does do a good job of offering the content in multi-colors and the brightness doesn’t matter much. Because on full brightness although it gave a good output under the sunlight, the screen goes black and showcases only the time in white as in any digital watch. Thus, it is easy to check the time in any light condition.
Having said this, I won’t say that you can read everything very easily. Because, the notifications you get on the watch will make you struggle a bit, and that according to LG, is because they tried to use a technology for saving battery, but is a “smart” watch useful with a display that puts out non-readable-content under bright sunlight?
There is no physical button on the watch, and the Android Wear OS makes sure you don’t need one, because it is just a double tap needed to take you into the list of things possible on it. The IP67 certification for water resistance tells that you can happily use the smartwatch in any weather condition, but just can not wear it and dive into the pool because this isn’t a waterproof device.
Google’s control over the UI has taken away everything that LG does in its smartphones. Thus, you would see the Cards that are shown as a part of Google Now. Most of whatever you do on the LG G Watch is controlled over by the smartphone. It’s the 4.4W Android Wear platform running in the G Watch. Swiping up from the bottom in watch face will bring out the cards, and you can swipe them right to close it, although this isn’t going to listen to you for future because based on the importance, the cards are shown upon the watch face.
I liked the way the cards can be closed, or more stuff can be done on them. And there’s no exact number of cards that will be shown at a particular time, because that depends on the notifications. You don’t always have to say “Ok Google” to control or get things done, because you just have to tap twice on the watch face to bring out the entire list of available functions, so it is the same – either you speak or tap.
These are the functions that you see in the list.
- Take a note
- Remind me
- Show me my steps
- Set a timer
- Start stopwatch
- Set an alarm
- Show alarms
- Call a car
- Start – shows up a list of apps which can be started
The G Watch (although everything is under Google Voice) does have problems in recognizing name of contacts. When the contacts are not being recognized easily, there are a few functions which I can not use, i.e. sending an email, sending a text message because these need the contact names first.
A very handy feature of Android Wear OS is that whatever notifications you have swiped to close them on the smartwatch, does the same thing on the smartphone. It avoids all the confusion and hassle, which was quite an issue with the earlier smart watches, because closing the notification did that only on the watch, and everything was available on the phone to be checked and closed again.
What else does the G Watch offer? The pedometer for the step count, throughout the day. That might be using quite some battery, but that is a very handy feature, one of the reasons why people choose to use a smart wearable device. The “Fit” app that is inbuilt in the G Watch does a very good job of step counting, and it was very much accurate in doing that. But having said that, I found no way in syncing that with the S Health app on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.
In the history of the step counter, you get a very beautiful timeline showing the recent bar chart of the number of steps walked daily. The settings of the same have options to show Step card, set a daily step goal (from zero to 20000 per day) and save fitness data.
The settings section has the brightness adjustment, always-on screen setting, Aeroplane mode, Power off, Restart and the About section where one can understand about the versions, and also enable the developer mode if there is a need to do that.
Music control is another good feature in the LG G Watch. The default music players would any way work, but you can use even the apps such as Spotify to control the music being played. As soon as you start the music player, and the song is being played, the controls for pausing, next and previous songs are shown in different cards.
The integration of Maps application is done pretty well, because when you send the command to navigate you to a particular location, the watch sends that to your smartphone, and the directions are then shown and synced between the two on real-time. And that looks excellent because you don’t now have to keep watching the phone screen and the little screen on your wrist would do the same job of giving you the directions.
The availability of any number of apps is the best things of all, if we are to point out the best part about the interface of the G Watch. This is because everything is a part of the actual Android OS on the smartphone synced to the G Watch, and it is an Android phone’s Play Store which you are using to download the apps. It’s good, because you don’t have anything about apps in the watch, and later you don’t have to complain about the storage space.
Battery Life: One of the most important factors to talk about, because this is a device that you would not like to charge on a daily basis. Charging a smartphone is already quite a job, and if the watch isn’t able to give you a few days of usage on a single charge, you get disappointed. That’s the case with the LG G Watch, which on a very normal usage and continuous sync with a smartphone, couldn’t give more than 24 hours of usage. If we are looking at optimization, turning Aeroplane mode on to save battery, there’s no reason we would use a smartwatch.
I still tried to use the G Watch for only the notifications, time and step counting – didn’t use Google Voice, and any particular apps on the watch and the results were not very much better. Because it ran for 30 hours before going down to zero from 100%.
The charging time is good though, because the 400 mAh battery of the G Watch got fully charged in about an hour. While it is good, the charging cradle on which the watch has to sit, is one of the disadvantages because you will have to carry it everywhere. There’s no direct MicroUSB slot for charging, and it becomes quite frustrating where you have to carry the cradle along while traveling too.
I’m lucky enough that the pins on the back of my G Watch haven’t gone bad, unlike a few users who reported of corroded charging pins on their G Watch.