John Galea's Blog

My blog on Gadgets and the like

Android Wear 5.1.1 mini review

Recently Android Wear for my Samsung Live got updated to 5.1.1. There are some welcome improvements in the release. It’s funny when I went from my Samsung Gear 2 neo to my Samsung Gear Live (going from a Samsung only release to Android Wear) I took a bunch of steps backwards in usability and features. Slowly Google are fixing Android wear, and it’s been welcome. Google Fit which is integral to Android wear for fitness data also got a freshening a while back and now includes Calorie count and distance on top of steps and amount of active time. Now no one is saying the calorie count (or distance) is accurate but that is another topic altogether 🙂 At least it’s a start. Still missing from Fit is continuous or regular heart rate data. Fortunately apps like Cinch and Heart rate OS fill this somewhat obvious gap.

The recent Android wear release includes improvements in usability including a three wide menuing system making it easier to use the device without having to resort to voice commands. A welcome improvement. You can also now control the fonts on the watch. Yes! For someone who’s eyes ain’t getting any better I say yes to this one! They also rolled out a feature enabling WIFI on the watch. The idea is to use WIFI to stay connected to your watch even when you are out of range of Bluetooth. As long as your phone and watch are on the net somewhere, the watch can continue to give you notifications etc. They cleverly have you head over to the phone to enter the wifi key for the watch. Unfortunately they don’t take it from the list on your phone if the WIFI is already saved. The watch will only use wifi if the bluetooth connection is lost.

Smartwatches number one weakness is battery life. I suppose their second weakness is having to be connected to the phones (which this attempts to resolve). WIFI power consumption is higher compared to bluetooth. LAN Vs PAN. I saw lots of posts about the feature but none of them addressed power consumption. So I had a look. I turned bluetooth off on my phone and connected my Samsung Gear Live to my WIFI. In 3.5 hours it dropped 22%, 6.3% per hour, or a projected battery life of about 16 hours. By comparison from the Gear Live review the watch draws 5% per hour for a project battery life of 20 hours. So using wifi cut about 4 hours of battery life off of the watch. Oddly the first time I used it I saw bizarrely high power consumption of 13% per hour.

So Android wear continues to move forward.

June 18, 2015 - Posted by | Android, Android Wear (Smartwatch)

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