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Discussion Starter #1
My Experiences with Android Wear

Feel free to ask questions!



Preface:

On 23 May 2016, I received a Moto 360 Sport as a birthday gift. For those of you who aren't sure what this is, the Moto 360 Sport is a "smartwatch" that pairs with both Android and iOS devices. It is running an OS known as Android Wear which can display notifications, track exercise, record audio, and (most importantly) display time. Since Android is open source, manufacturers can cram whatever else they'd like to such as GPS, music storage, or heart rate sensors and provide apps that utilize this technology.

Now that I've given some explanation of what Android Wear is, I will refine this thread to my specific scenario. I am using a black Moto 360 Sport paired with a Samsung Galaxy Note 3. My phone is running Android Lollipop (v5.0) and my watch is running Android Wear (v1.4.0.2576000) or Android OS (v6.0.1) (there are two versions under "About" in the settings). I use the watch for running and golfing along with reading notifications and telling the time.

Now for the specific specifications and features of the Moto 360 Sport.

Quote: Moto 360 Sport Specifications
Operating system

Android Wear™

Display

AnyLight Hybrid Display
Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3
1.37" (35mm), 263ppi (360 X 325)

Watch case dimensions

45mm diameter by 11.5mm high

Weight

54g

Battery

300mAh - Up to a full day of mixed use with Ambient on.
Wireless charging with charging dock included

Processor

Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 400 with 1.2 GHz quad-core CPU (APQ 8026)
Adreno 305 with 450MHz GPU
Memory

4GB internal storage + 512MB RAM

Connectivity

Bluetooth® 4.0 Low Energy
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g

Sensors

Barometric Altimeter, Accelerometer, Ambient Light Sensor, Gyroscope, Vibration/Haptics engine

Heart rate sensors

Optical heart rate monitor (PPG)

Water resistance

IP67 dust and water resistant - Not waterproof

Microphone

Dual digital mics

Bands

Silicone band

The watch is advertised as a fitness watch. It uses a non-removable rubber strap and housing in order to be sweat resistant. Motorola has included proprietary fitness apps to track running and heart activity during a workout, however, third party apps such as Endomondo can be used instead. In addition to supporting third party apps, Motorola also allows proprietary app data to be transferred to services such as Fitbit. Another key feature of the watch is GPS tracking. This allows for precision tracking of run distances without needing to run with a phone. Google Maps can also be used without a phone. The watch continues to appeal towards running without a phone by including storage for music and wireless playback through Bluetooth. This allows me to leave my phone at home and listen to music with my Jaybird Bluebuds X wireless earbuds (now discontinued and replaced with Jaybird X2s). The final feature advertised is an "AnyLight" display which makes the display easy to read indoors and outdoors without using too much battery life on backlight. This allows for an always-on display that can show the time without needing exaggerated gestures.

Now that we know plenty about the Moto 360 Sport, I will begin sharing my experiences with the device. I will review the device chronologically, explaining my impressions on the watch as they become evident. I may compare the device to the Fitbit Charge. This is because the Fitbit Charge was my previous watch and serves as a baseline in my comparisons.

Table of Contents

  1. Day 0 - 1
  2. Day 5
  3. Hole19 Update
  4. Using Fitness/ Running Apps with Android Wear
  5. Day 9 (The First Run)
  6. Day 160 or something like that...
 

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Day 0 - 1

Unboxing and Setup

Unboxing the watch was pretty simple. I'll try and post pictures with this post later on. It came in a cylinder package that wasn't too difficult when it came to removing the contents. In the box was the watch, a charging cable, a charging dock, and some documentation. I registered the warranty before getting started. It involved the creation of a Motorola account and using the serial number to register the watch. Overall a very simple process. It has a one year warranty that covers device malfunctions, but wear and tear is not covered. Then I linked the watch to my phone. This began by downloading the "Android Wear - Smartwatch" app to my phone. Once that had finished, it was only a matter of following simple instructions to pair the devices. Once I paired the watch, there were a few updates available. When updating, I had to charge the watch to half battery. This was only a minor inconvenience. In conclusion, device unboxing and setup was very good.

Once I had the watch updated, I began installing apps and adjusting settings. Most of my current apps, with the exception of Evernote (which required a separate app for Android Wear) automatically installed onto the watch during setup. I installed a few more apps to add functionality. The "Android Wear - Smartwatch" app has a link to browse Android Wear specific apps. This is all done on the paired device and then synced to the watch. I installed a banking app (specific to my bank), audio recorder, and Hole19 (a golf GPS/ scorecard). With these apps I could check/ transfer money, record important information, and improve my golfing experience. One specific app that I find particularly useful is Shazam which allows me to identify songs using my watch. This was much easier than using my phone as well as surprisingly accurate.

My first complaint comes with the charging cable. It is plenty long for nightstand use, and the dock is perfectly fine, but the charging cord is not a USB cable. At one end is the micro USB type B head which connects to the back of the charging dock. However, at the other end is an American 120V plug. The reason this (slightly) bugs me is that I have a USB hub for charging on my nightstand. This hub plugs into the wall jack where the other outlet is occupied by a lamp cord. My plan was to use one of the USB ports on my USB hub, but the 120V plug prevented this from happening. I could have used a USB type B to micro USB type B cable in place of the provided one, but I didn't have any lying around. Therefore, my solution was a simple power strip. My situation was very specific, so this isn't really an issue for most. I would have preferred a USB to micro USB cable though.

Something that might be relevant to specific people is that there doesn't appear to be contacts for charging on the charging dock. This leaves me to assume that the dock uses some form of wireless charging. I can't test this, but folks who have fancy wireless charging bedside tables might be able to throw their watch on the table instead of using the included charging dock.

The First Day

My first day was great with the watch! The watch band is comfortable, easy to use, and secure (unlike the push-pin band on my previous Fitbit Charge). The watch is not too large or small on most average wrists. It will obviously be too big for fifth grader wrists, but my average wrist size is just perfect for this watch (45mm). I did change the watch face to something more useful. The "Sport" face didn't include items such as battery life. I changed it to the "Dials" face and included battery life, date, and digital time (for easier use). The watch face can be changed by pressing the current watch face until a selection menu appears. There are sixteen watch faces included, all of which are unique and vary in utility and style, but more watch faces can be downloaded from Google Play.



Watch faces can be changed and customized on the watch or in the Android Wear and Motorola Connect apps.

Moving on to utility, my family was eager to text me and test the watch while I was proceeding through my day. The watch would produce a generic vibration for all notifications. This can be turned off by swiping down and choosing "Priority" or "None" for notification frequency. I was a little disappointed in that there was only one vibration for all notifications. It would have been nice to configure different vibrations for Email, text, and calendar alerts. This can be done using "Vibrations for Android Wear," but I was not disappointed enough to spend anything for a fix.

Whenever I received a text, I could reply using "OK Google" as a voice cue. This picks up easily in most environments, and I am able to vocally text through my watch. You can do all sorts of stuff using "OK Google." A few notable functions are: checking the weather, setting reminders/ alarms, taking notes, navigating, and emailing. One function I found particularly interesting (but lack a reason to use) is the ability to call an Uber or other supported service. This can be done with the "OK Google" voice cue and is probably useful to those who live in metropolitan areas.

My most used feature right now is the "Trusted Device" feature. What this does is unlocks my phone whenever the watch is within Bluetooth range. I used this tutorial found on the Nexus Help site. Some of the settings were a little different, but now my phone is secure without the annoyance of inputting a password every time I need to use it. This can also be done using NFC, but I'm not sure the watch supports it. From what I've read, NFC is a feature on the processor the Moto 360 Sport uses, but I don't think it is supported in the OS. Support may come around if Google allows Android Pay to be used with Android Wear, but nothing is official.

My gripe for the day refers to the "gestures" that can be used to navigate through Android Wear.

Quote: From the "Help" guide on Motorola Connect
Use wrist gestures to navigate your watch without touching it with your hand. Your watch responds to the direction and quickness of your motion, not the range of motion.

  • Scroll to next notification. Quickly flick wrist away from you, then slowly turn back towards you. Scroll to previous notification. Slowly turn wrist away from you, then quickly flick it back towards you.
  • See more details or take an action. Hold your arm in front of you and quickly push down, then bring it back to the original position.
  • Go back to previous screen. Hold your arm in front of you and quickly pivot up, then lower it to the original position. Return to watch face. Hold your arm in front of you, then shake your wrist out and in a few times.
  • Open apps menu. When on the main watch screen, hold your arm in front of you and quickly push down, then raise it to the original position.
  • Open settings from watch face. When on the main watch screen, slowly turn your wrist away from you, then quickly flick it back towards you.
Unless you are one handed, these "gestures" are nearly useless, not to mention ridiculous. The normal wrist flick is fine and easily wakes the watch from its static form. Beyond that, you can flick your wrist forwards and backwards to navigate up and down, respectively. This is where you begin to swat imaginary flies. To swipe left or right, you can pull your arm in or punch the air, and to select and go back, you can flick down or flick up. These have to be done rather violently, so it can look like imaginary flies are plaguing you. Thankfully, these gestures can be ignored without consequence.

When the day ended, I had worn the watch for around thirteen hours with a resultant battery level of 53%. Not bad considering I was tinkering around quite a bit and using the GPS for short periods of time. When I docked the watch on the charger, it entered a low power mode and doubled as an alarm clock. The light emitted was not intrusive and allowed for easy sleep.



Image of Moto 360 Sport while docked at night.

Remaining battery life after 13 hours.
 

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Day 5

I used an app called Hole19 for golf. Unfortunately, the app is made in a way to where the watch can't be independent. This is understandable since most Android Wear watches don't have built in GPS functions. Battery life took a pretty big hit, but considering this was a worst case scenario, I can't be upset with a 23% remainder by the end of the day.

I also tried using Shazam. I hadn't set it up yet, so I missed the song when I wanted to know what it was, but after that it worked flawlessly. Kudos to whoever develops that app.

As of right now, I am still really impressed with Android Wear in general. My main complaint is that developers seem to make apps in a way that functions like my GPS aren't used correctly. Most of the time, the watch uses GPS data from my phone. Running (exercise) apps work just fine without a phone, but I have yet to find a golf GPS that doesn't require phone connection.
 

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Hole19 Update

I found a bit of information on Hole19 and standalone Android Wear support.

Quote: Hole19 Help Center (Robert Stewart)
Can I use Hole19 without the phone on a smartwatch that has built-in GPS?

No, not at this time. You must use Hole19 for Android Wear in conjunction with your Android Phone.

The Hole19 App for Android Wear is designed to complement the main Hole19 App by facilitating distance information and scorekeeping.

We may consider a "standalone" version of Hole19 for smartwatches with built-in GPS capability in the future.
It seems they do understand this is a requested feature, but are hesitant to begin development. I can understand why as developing for Android Wear devices is probably difficult to do well considering the lack of power from the device. If they were to release an app, it would probably receive poor reviews from uninformed consumers. Reviews would probably be similar to, "The concept is good, but the battery consumption and slow performance from this app make it unacceptable!"

I still think they should give a standalone app some effort. The developers of Hole19 have made a darn good app and are definitely capable of a standalone Android Wear version. This is easy to recognize on the Google Play store where Hole19 boasts a four star rating and 2,310 reviews (as of 1 June 2016).
 

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Using Fitness/ Running Apps with Android Wear

There are a variety of apps that function with Android Wear. Motorola installs Moto Body on all Moto 360 Sport devices, but I am not sure this is the case with all Moto 360 products. Along with Moto Body, several other options are available including: FitWell, Endomondo, Runmore, MY ASICS, Runtastic, and Google Fit (all of which, excluding Google Fit, can be found here). Note that all of these options, excluding MY ASICS and Google Fit, have premium features that can be purchased. Another option Motorola provides is the ability to sync data from Moto Body to services such as Fitbit that don't support Android Wear. However, I've tried this in order to remain in the competitive community surrounding Fitbit (my family and friends can compete through the service to achieve various goals) and haven't had flawless results. I'm not going to say it doesn't work at all, but that is only because I have not tested other services or put in the time to figure out why it doesn't quite work.

My fitness apps that I currently use are Moto Body, Google Fit, and Endomondo.

Pros and Cons



Moto Body

Pros

  • Pre-installed
  • Designed for the Moto 360 Sport
  • GPS tracking
  • Heart rate tracking
  • Ease of use
  • Good UI

Cons

  • Two Android Wear apps for running and general fitness
  • Not detailed enough for competitive or serious running
  • Data sharing to other services doesn't always work

Google Fit

Pros

  • Super easy-to-use UI
  • Designed for Android Wear by Google
  • Simple data and tracking for everyday health

Cons

  • Not detailed enough for serious running
  • Two Android Wear apps for running and daily activity
  • Super easy-to-use UI results in limited functionality

Endomondo

Pros

  • Very detailed workouts
  • GPS tracking
  • Heart rate tracking
  • Customization for data pages
  • Training plans
  • Route planning
  • Nutrition tracking (manual)

Cons

  • No daily step count
  • Premium features behind subscription payment



Front pages (from left to right) of Moto Body, Google Fit, and Endomondo.

If I was to just use one app, I would probably stick with Moto Body for its daily tracking and GPS assisted runs. As good as Moto Body is, I will still use Endomondo for serious running. Endomondo supplies a larger amount of data and is built for the competitive runner.

One side note for using Endomondo: Before you use Endomondo, I suggest changing the settings to where the watch GPS is used instead of the phone GPS. This allows for running without carrying a possibly large phone. To do this, navigate to Endomondo on your phone, tap the three bars in the top left, tap "Settings," tap "Smartwatches," choose "Android Wear," and choose "Watch" under "GPS." It should look similar to this.



"Settings" screen for changing GPS priority.
 

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Day 9 (The First Run)

Today was my first run with the Moto 360 Sport. I'm getting back in shape before Cross-Country season at the the start of the school year. Endomondo was a flawless experience! Once I had set the watch GPS as default, I simply clicked play on the Moto 360 Sport. I didn't bring my phone and had no troubles.

I ran two miles through my neighborhood at about an 8:40 minute pace. The watch gave a small vibration every time I hit a mile. The GPS was really good as well. When I used a Fitbit Charge, I didn't ever use a GPS because I had to carry my phone for the function. The one time I did use a GPS, I was disappointed to find the results were inaccurate thanks to the "road-snapping" done within the app. Because of this issue, Fitbit only allows running on roads for accurate tracking. That makes running at parks and trails impossible if an accurate result is desired. None of this was the case with the Moto 360 Sport. The GPS tracking was "free-form" and accurate (I would show this, but it would give my address to the Internet). My only complaint is that the GPS didn't engage until about a tenth of a mile into my run.

Endomondo really made things easy. To start a run, all you have to do is press the play button on your watch. No time is spent setting up the run on your phone or fiddling with settings. Just a simple tap-and-go experience. The watch face was always in a low-power mode, but the "AnyLight" display was easy to read in the sun while on the move. I could customize what data I wanted to see while running. For this run, I was monitoring distance and duration.



The previously mentioned "play button."

Once the run was over, I was impressed in how much data was provided. I might not all be completely accurate (I'm not entirely sure how altitude was measured), but it was very comprehensive. I could even track the weather conditions if I paid for the premium subscription.



The resulting data from my run. There is a map if you scroll up, but I'm not showing that on the Internet.

Something that most everyone is probably interested in is the battery usage. There was a very notable drop on the graph during the run. However, it is not enough kill the watch for the rest of the day. When my run finished, I had gone from around 70% to 51%. Some may disagree, but I think this is an acceptable amount of battery loss. My runs usually are about six miles during the Cross-Country season. I should never have a problem with battery life for those runs.



The battery life after my run. The steep drop is when I ran, and the increase is due to charging the watch during a post-run shower.

I still have a gripe about Endomondo. There is an option to set a goal (distance, duration, heart rate, etc.) that is on the phone app, but doesn't appear on the Android Wear app. It would have been nice to set a two mile goal on my watch, but I can't find a way to do it. Other than that, Endomondo is the perfect example of what an Android Wear app should be. It makes things simple and efficient. The entire process is intuitive and well thought out. The app is well optimized for its purpose. When I used Hole19, I had issues with always needing a phone in my pocket and the app being too dependent. Endomondo is a perfect example of what Hole19 should be (even though Endomondo has nothing to do with golf). If you are looking to track running, or even walking, Endomondo is the best app I've tried with Android Wear.

Some of you may be wondering about the wireless music playback included with the Moto 360 Sport. Unfortunately, I didn't test this because my music library is nonexistent. I usually stream music from Spotify, but the Moto 360 Sport doesn't have the option of a data plan. Once I build up a music library, I will test wireless playback.
 

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Day 160 or something like that...

Now that I've owned a Moto 360 Sport for a few months, I will express some long term thoughts. The watch works extremely well. There are no signs of wear or deterioration, unlike previous competing watches I've owned. I do have two faint scratches on the display. Both of the scratches are due to a recent move and come from knocks on door frames or furniture. Even though this is unfortunate, the scratches are minor and can only be seen at certain angles under a concentrated light source. Overall, I am very happy with the durability of the watch.

Android Wear has inherited the same issues as every other Android OS. None of the issues are enough to prevent the purchase of an Android Wear device, but they are still there. Here are just a few off the top of my head.

  • Wireless connection is random. Just like my Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (running Android v5.0 Lollipop), the watch will drop WiFi connectivity. Bluetooth connectivity will sometimes drop as well, but not nearly as often. I generally notice the connection drop around my house. i.e. I could be watching TV downstairs while my phone is charging upstairs. If everything works as advertised, the watch will communicate with my phone through my wireless network. However, this is not always the case and I can't trust the connection in this situation if I am waiting for an E-mail or text message.
  • The OS will crash. This rarely happens, but it will occur. Just hold the physical button until something happens.
  • The heart rate sensor is not accurate. This is less of a problem with Android Wear and is more in part to the lack of an accurate heart rate sensor for watches. I have yet to find a wrist-bound heart rate sensor that can accurately tell me my current heart rate. Results may improve if the watch is worn below the wrist (like the Microsoft Band in this image).

The implementation of some Android Wear apps is a bit strange. To start, Google Play Music can store music on the Android Wear device for wireless playback without a phone. This is a great feature that can be used by tapping "Play on Wear" and selecting media stored on the device. Now, if you want to listen to music through your phone, you'd logically tap "Play on phone," but instead of opening the same UI as "Play on Wear," it redirects you to your phone. This forces you to pull out your phone to listen to anything that you don't have saved to your watch. In my case, I wanted to remotely start a podcast from my watch while my phone was on a nearby table. Chaos ensued. That said, once the phone is playing your media, the watch can control play, pause, skip, and ratings (for when you listen to Google Play Radio).

Beyond these minor inconveniences, Android Wear devices are great! It's definitely a luxury that most people could live without, but I wouldn't be able to go back to using just a phone. Improvements will be made over time (especially with Android Wear v2.0 on the horizon), and the luxury is easily justified for most users. I'll update this thread a little while after Android Wear v2.0 comes out.
 

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So, I think this requires a bit of an update. Hole19, the golf GPS/ statistics app recently updated it's Android Wear support to become a standalone Android Wear 2.0 app. I haven't tested it yet, but I'm excited to play few rounds and get a feel for things like battery life and responsiveness.

The official Hole19 Twitter actually tweeted me in reference to this thread regarding the update. link



I'm genuinely surprised. It shows how great of a platform OCN is for stuff like this.
 
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