At launch, there are a few dozen apps compatible with Android Wear. Many just push out alerts based on happenings or location data, and just about all require the user create a user account and sign in on a handset. As previously mentioned, Trello, Google Keep, and Evernote Wear are the cream of the crop as they provide genuninely handy functions.
Others are gimmicky. Ever want to control your lights from your wrist? You can now with expensive Phillips Hue lights and the Hue Control app. Want to order takeout with you watch? So long as you’re reordering from the Eat24 app, you can do it from Android Wear. Fly Delta and Lyft offer similar variations of the same thing, and none will replace the smartphone apps anytime soon. RunKeeper and Runtastic use GPS and step tracking for tracking and sharing exercise info, but they both require Android Wear remain connected to the smartphone for the run.
If This Then That (IFTTT) has earned a bit of buzz as it allows users to create “recipes” that trigger Android Wear actions. One popular option displays pictures taken with the handset camera on Android Wear devices. Once again, it’s a parlor trick at best, but there might be potential there for useful recipes in time.
All this is to say that there aren’t many good Android Wear apps, ones that make a smartwatch feel truly necessary, as of this writing. Maybe the novelty of ordering a pizza from a watch will carry the first generation of Android Wear devices for a few months, but developers and Google will eventually need to step up here.
It’s always tough to review a new platform in its early days. How does one weigh its potential when drawing a conclusion? Because excluding that, Android Wear is no better or worse than the operating systems powering the other smartwatches in the market, including Pebble OS, the Tizen-based Gear series, and whatever forked Android version of Android runs on Sony’s devices.
But Android Wear has more promise than those efforts, not only because it has the backing of Google and major hardware partners like Samsung, LG, and Motorola, but also because Google has a clear vision of what it wants Android Wear to offer: concise and useful information for the user, pushed out to the user, when the user needs to see it, all available at a glance.
Google thinks this will save time, keep heads out of smartphones, and keep us all engaged in the real world. It will alleviate the smartphone distraction, while still keeping us connected.
That’s a lofty goal, one that Android Wear does not quite achieve at launch. But early impressions make it impossible to dismiss its capabilities to do that out of hand.
Android Wear might eventually spark the wearables revolution and free us from smartphone engrossment, sure, but for now we’ll have to settle for ordering pizzas from our wrists.