Android Wear vs Apple Watch

FullSizeRenderI admit it.  I love watches.  Always have, and I feel like I’ve owned some cool ones like the Seiko Data 2000 that I still have and is in working condition.

For years I stopped wearing watches, the last being a Timex DataLink I bought 21 years ago.  However three years ago, after visiting the Caribbean, I fell in love with watches again picking up a Citizen Proximity (horrible ‘smart’ watch), and a Citizen Blue Angels Skyhawk (love it!).

The current set of digital watches, or wearables, especially between Apple and Google is intriguing to me.  For the longest time period, I resisted getting an Apple watch and then finally did.

As for Android Wear, I didn’t think it would work with the iPhone and it turns out it does – sort of.  So I picked up a Fossil Q Founder while in Orlando.

Honestly – I’m not impressed with Apple Watch anymore.  I find:

  • It’s very slow for what it is.
  • It often thinks I want to take a screen shot when I’m clicking the crown.
  • The flow of the UI is not that intuitive – Why would I press the crown for Apps?  It makes more sense to swipe.
  • Apps are slow and have very basic functionality.
  • Lack of available watch faces.
  • Connectivity is questionable – For example, right now my iPhone recognizes I am in Waterloo yet the watch can’t bring up the weather details.
  • The Apple Watch app seems like an after thought and doesn’t feel cohesive with the rest of the iOS ecosystem.

What Apple Watch has going for it, though is:

  • Activity tracking – I love that it tracks steps, translates it to calories, standing and also exercise time.  Along with that, the heart beat/rate monitor is cool.
  • It’s a small package.
  • Wallet is awesome for checking in for flights, loyalty cards, etc…
  • NFC payments with the watch instead of the phone is really neat too.
  • Messaging from the Apple Watch is great.
  • The haptic engine is awesome! So much so, I feel phantom taps on my wrist occasionally.

The Fossil Q blew me away with how responsive it is, given it’s based on an Intel Atom processor, I’m not surprised.  I like ARM cores as well, but I really do think Apple could have created something a bit more reponsive.

What the Fossil Q has going for it:

  • Did I say it was responsive?
  • It feels like a big chunky watch, which has been my preference recently
  • It came with a nice charging stand.  Apple really missed the mark here.
  • The sheer number of apps and watch faces is way higher than Apple Watch.  Again, Apple has really missed the mark here.
  • The UI is way more intuitive.
  • You can have the watch with an always on mode that doesn’t seem to have that much affect on battery life.
  • The simplicity of gestures and buttons is beautiful.

What the Fossil Q implementation of Android Wear seems to be missing

  • This one isn’t the fault of Google, but the lack of being able to get to the Android Play store to upload apps and more watch faces.  There has to be a way of being able to get access to, at least, the free watch faces on the store.
  • Activity tracking – Sure it has a pedometer, but not much more.  Although, do I really need a heart rate monitor?  Not really, but in these days of activity trackers and such,    I’d expect something like that from such a big watch. As CNet’s review calls out, “This isn’t a sport watch, it’s a fashion one.”
  • It doesn’t look like with the base watch that you can send text messages using “OK Google” like you can with Siri.
  • Wallet although I know Google Pay when synced with an Android device is available.
  • The haptic engine isn’t quite a cool or configurable as Apple’s.

What I won’t miss in Android Wear versus Apple Watch is the NFC payments capabilities.  I just don’t use NFC these days, and I see it more as a gimmick.  Although it sounds like on other Android Wear watches, NFC is available.

What both have going for them

  • I like the size of the Apple Watch as well as the Fossil. Both have a place.
  • The range of bands is good for both, although I am partial to the bands available for the Fossil, which are interchangeable with other bands from the brand.
  • The displays on both watches is gorgeous
  • Voice recognition is great on both although I think I find Siri a bit faster to recognize and process my voice.

If you’re using the Android Wear with an Apple iPhone, it does seem to work well other than not being able to download many more watch faces and apps.  This is more because Apple doesn’t allow non-Apple stores to be accessed from the iPhone.  This is not surprising and I wouldn’t count on Apple supporting devices outside of their ecosystem.

All in all, I think Android Wear is probably the better platform.  Apple Watch, it will be interesting to see what comes out from Apple, but I have to admit, I find myself drawn away more and more from Apple.  I am just not impressed anymore.  So much so, I could almost see myself switching to an Android phone.  Almost.

The best way to describe the Fossil Q is the right balance between the Apple Watch and a Pebble.

2 thoughts on “Android Wear vs Apple Watch

    • This is the Chronograph face that’s part of WatchOS 2, I believe. It’s a nice face.
      Admittedly I tend to use simpler faces with fewer complications, but for my bigger non-digital watches, and even for my Fossil Q, I like more complications.

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