Windows tablets were flawed because the desktop Windows interface was applied to a tablet. The iPad dominated because the minimalist touch iOS was right for a tablet -- because it did less. iPads had less power, fewer options and less flexibility (for example, they didn’t have USB ports).
Likewise, previous smartwatches were essentially a port of a smartphone user interface, with apps you installed on the watch, and launched via mini screens of icons. Newer watches, like the Samsung Galaxy Gear, were closer to the mark -- essentially hybrids of the old and new -- whereas Android Wear feels like a fully watch-native user interface built from the ground up as a wearable OS and interface (and influenced by what Google learned from their ongoing Google Glass project).
Information is stripped to its core essentials, and much of it is visual. For example, when you get a Google Hangouts message from someone, you see a bar across their profile picture with the message and a tiny Hangouts icon. The message is text, but the information about who the message is from and what app delivered it is both given to you in the form of pictures only.
That’s the essence of the Android Wear interface -- minimalism, non-verbal communication and contextual relevance, which adds up to an interface made up of screens that you can instantly and intuitively understand.
Then you can swipe to the right to get rid of it, swipe to the left to move into the app, swipe down to go back and swipe up to go to the next item in the queue.
Deliberately, you can use Android Wear in most cases while running, or without your reading glasses, or while in a meeting while an important person is talking to you without making that person feel like you’re ignoring them.
And that, in a nutshell, is what makes Android Wear so great. It’s not just a computer on your list -- it’s much less. It’s on your wrist, which is great. It’s a computer minus everything but the essentials, which is great. And it’s a user interface that is very carefully designed for the wrist. And that’s the greatest thing of all.
So ignore the grumbling. Critics and naysayers are focusing on the wrong things. Instead of looking at the watch and complaining about the clunkiness of the UI, or the limitations of the small screen or user interface, they should instead look within and ask themselves how much better informed they are about what’s important.
Android Wear is better than you think, because it very simply gives you situational awareness, and constantly, without making you feel like you’re “using” a gadget. Knowledge just appears on your arm when you want it. And that’s pretty great.
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