The Whole Android Wear Vs Apple Watch Affair: A Thorough Look
Apple’s big announcement came just this past September with the unveiling of Apple Watch. However, they’re not the first ones to wow audiences with this new tech; Google beat them to the punch when they announced Android Wear just a few months prior to the Apple launch.
To put things in perspective, Apple Watch isn’t exactly a revolutionary departure from the existing wearable market. In fact, there are quite a few aspects it has in common with Google’s wearable platform. The design guidelines for third-party apps released by Apple in November this year also puts things in the same perspective, as they are in fact, quite similar to those for Android Wear.
So clearly, there’s an overlap. But the question remains: which one is better, really? We find out.
What’s the Best Time?
We all know how “cool” it is for our wearables to do a lot more than tell the time, but they still have to perform the basic function of giving us the time.
Apple’s watch display remains off when you’re not paying any attention to it. When you turn your wrist to look at the watch, it pops back on. We’re not sure if this is the best way to check the time, but it might help in terms of preserving battery life.
On certain models, Android Wear displays the time at all times, by default. Though, every model comes with the option of turning the display on only when needed, much the same as Apple Watch. There are some battery life issues to be found in these new wearable watches, so this is certainly a useful option to have.
Fast and Easy Access
A smartwatch should be all about giving you instant information without so much as having to breathe or move a muscle. Okay, we might be exaggerating a little there, but you get the idea.
Swipe up from the bottom of Apple Watch, and a section called Glances comes into view, which is a collection of cards displaying info you might be interested in – appointments coming up on your calendar or the weather. Apps can also display specific information here, making the potential of this feature quite powerful.
Google Now has always been a solid winner, and its uncanny ability to guess and display what information you need is well integrated into Android Wear. Scroll through notifications, and Google Now cards magically pop up to assist you. These really are great on their own, however, we’re not sure how well they’ll serve until we see what kind of stuff developers come up with using Apple’s Glances.
Ah, notifications, the good stuff!
As far as Apple Watch goes, all notifications popping up on your phone will be displayed on your watch. If a dev wants, they can amp up that notification to boost functionality – replying to a message or taking actions like accepting a Facebook or LinkedIn request. In theory, it certainly sounds very robust.
Google’s smartwatch is very much notification-friendly; most of the interface revolves around them. All your notifications get routed to the watch as you swipe through your phone to view or dismiss them, even act on them in some cases. As it stands, Apple hopes to let people do a lot more on this regard.
This is one aspect, where Apple “allegedly” shines.
Heart-rate sensors along with an accelerometer comes ready on the watch; GPS and Wi-Fi info is borrowed from a paired iPhone to keep a check on your health. Two separate apps, Activity and Workout, bring it all together. Used in conjunction, they track your activity level and encourage you to move it. Though we’ll actually need to wear it to see how it gets the job done.
Android Wear watches are capable of tracking your daily activity and heart rate. At this point, we can call them passable, which might explain why many avid Apple fans are hoping their favorite smartwatch is capable of a lot more. A pulse can be measured by anyone. But it sometimes takes almost a magical formula to get you moving.
Style and Pizzazz
They say looks aren’t everything, though when it comes to smartwatches, let’s just say they matter.
Apple’s smartwatch is quite similar to what the Android Wear watches look like, given its square face and display. Given Apple’s track record of making their products stand out one way or another, the smartwatches sport manufacturing material from aluminum to gold. The final product isn’t markedly different from Android Wear, though it is decidedly nicer. It comes in two sizes, one of which is a little smaller than most Android Wear standards and you get to choose between different colors.
With Android Wear, you can take your pick. Round and square watches, ugly ones, attractive ones, it’s all there. Apple might have a clear game-point advantage in this department, though there are some Wear models that stand out. The Moto 360, for instance, boasts a stylish and classy design, and holds out fairly well on its own against the Apple Watch models.
Smartwatches are clearly capable of a lot more than meets the eye, but there isn’t much doubt that it’s going to be third-party developers who’ll be powering up apps.
Apart from working on Glances and rich notifications, devs can create their very own Apple Watch apps. We can only guess for now what they might be able to do, but it’s only a matter of time before devs have the tools to get a handle on this and start creating the means to make smartwatch apps. So far, it’s known that a Twitter app is in the works.
Only a few months in, and Google claims there are thousands of apps that also support Android Wear. For example, Facebook Messenger, will send messages to Wear so it can accept responses through voice input. However, creating Wear apps is another thing; there are plenty of good apps running exclusively on Wear, but we’ve yet to see one that’s truly awe-inspiring.
Going the Stretch
As it stands, Apple has not yet announced anything on battery life, so we’ll leave it at that for now.
Android Wear watches will get you through the day fine, as long as the day is short or you’re packing a charger wherever you go. To be honest, battery life could really use a facelift, though we can’t really say Apple will edge ahead in this regard.
To Buy or Not to Buy?
The decision of choosing between either smartwatch largely depends on what smartphone you currently have or want to own. An Android Wear watch will only work with Android phones and vice versa.
So far, things are looking good no matter which side of the fence you’re on. Both type of smartwatches work the basics well and they’ll of course, bring a lot of nice goodies to the table in the coming months and years.
However, yes, now the however part that concludes the deal: Apple Watch might have a slight edge, given how ambitious it is. It practically wants to break out of its shell and show you it can do far more than just display notifications, which is about the only thing Android Wear is built around. If Apple bags more than a few devs on board, Apple Watch will probably start to look very enticing and purchase-worthy by the time it’s out. Apple’s succeeded in putting together the right ingredients; there’s a lot riding on how it all comes together, and that’s what might give it a competitive edge.
Developers are going to have their hands chock full this year looking for ways to make the smarwatch experience better for the user. Talk to us if you have an idea or two on developing smartwatch apps or drop us a line to discuss anything at all on mobile apps.