Think of smartwatches now like smartphones were around 2008 - despite the fact that the idea has been around for a long time, everyone is still trying to figure out the best way to go about it. In Android Wear, Google is trying to make a super-simple interface based on short swipes, taps, and voice commands... which leaves a lot of users craving more conventional tools. So we've got a launcher, a web browser, a file explorer (ugh) and now a substitute for the Recent Apps menu in Android OS.
Big things are happening for the smallest of Android devices. Over the last month, we've seen several attempts to extend the capabilities of Android Wear, some have worked out, while others haven't fared so well. Most of the activity has come in the form of 3rd-party apps, so there hasn't been much action for dedicated modders. That is, until today. Team Win just posted its first official custom recovery for the LG G Watch (dory).
Got an Android Wear device? If so, there's a mic on your wrist, so you might as well use it to keep track of all the insightful things that come tumbling out of your mouth. Or random craziness, whichever you're more prone to. Wear Audio Recorder lets you record voice notes from the watch, which are then pushed over to the phone.
Welcome to the future, ladies and gents. Your jacket isn't dry, your pizza isn't freeze-dried, and your car can't fly, but if it comes from Tesla, it's still pretty cool. If you also happen to have an Android Wear device, you can pretend to be Michael Knight by talking to your car through your watch, thanks to the unofficial Tesla Command app for Wear. Unfortunately it won't talk back, unless you count honking the horn.
KitKat is making its way to the Galaxy Note II. We've seen it come to Sprint, and just yesterday it started rolling out to Verizon's version of the handset. Now US Cellular has updated the support page for its Note II to say that KitKat is on its way.
Android Wear is designed to keep you appraised of what's going on with your phone via notifications and cards, but that's not all it's good for. There are already a few apps that let you tweak settings on your phone, and now Wear Hotspot lets you toggle the hotspot functionality. It's actually a pretty good use of Wear.
Android Wear has a lot of fine points, but there are a few things missing from the first round of devices. One of the more annoying shortcomings is the lack of a light sensor on the G Watch or the Gear Live. The Moto 360, however, will have a light sensor built in, according to Motorola's Cathay Bi.
Just as promised, HTC is starting to update the One M8 Developer Edition to Android 4.4.3. The over-the-air update was first spotted by a member over at the XDA-Developers forum, who incidentally was rocking a developer edition of the device. According to forum posters, the update file is for both the developer edition (M8_UL_CA) and SIM unlocked (M8_UL) phones, though none of the latter seem to be getting the OTA at the moment.
When George Mallory was asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, he famously replied, "Because it's there." I imagine a similar disposition possessed the developer of Wear Browser (better known for AIDE) when he shrugged his shoulders and said, "Well, I guess I'll put a browser on that watch." I say this because I can't think of a good reason anyone would do this. Still, it exists.
Like other Google I/O attendees, I picked up an Android Wear device at the conference. I went with the LG G Watch. What follows is not really a review so much as my experiences and thoughts about Wear thus far, having lived with it literally every day since picking it up. I'll include some of my opinions on the platform (ignoring for now the hardware), and what I think might be relevant insights and comparisons to Google's other efforts (like Glass).