The ongoing quest to find a point for smart watches continues with the latest raft of tweaks to the Android Wear platform.
Google seems to understand that merely strapping a very small smartphone to your wrist does not yield a very positive user experience. The screen is not only too small to view anything of substance; it also prohibits all but the most cursory of interactions. Clearly, for smart watches to be at all useful an alternative to the touch UI is needed.
In a blog post the Android team announced three new features to the Android Wear smart watch OS. First, and most important, are new gesture interactions. Now you can scroll through items on your smart watch by flicking your wrist, with other gestures imparting further functionality.
Android has also added further voice commands over and above the standard “OK Google” questions, to incorporate messaging apps such as WhatsApp. So now you can say “OK Google, Send a WhatsApp message to Nathan: I’ll be right there,” and Nathan will be instantly reassured. Lastly you can now also make voice calls via your watch, if you don’t mind the consequent public humiliation.
We’re still only at the early stages of the smartwatch journey and if the category is ever going to appeal to the mass market it needs to demonstrate real, unique value, something it’s still struggling to do. It’s possible that the smart watch will evolve in parallel with the connected car and the video below of someone controlling their car via an Apple Watch may provide a taste of things to come.