Books written by Ray Sullivan

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Android Needs To Watch Out

Wearable computers are all the rage, it would seem, and Apple's intention to build an iWatch is well mooted.  There's been a lot of rumours floating around and it's thought that they will have something on the shelves before the end of the year.  But they won't be the first.

In fact there are a few wearable computer watches on sale right now and another has just been announced.  It's the Androidy watch, designed in the UK and ready to pre-order right now.  It works on Android - hence the name, I guess - and appears to be a full featured device.  It is a phone - I'm not sure how practical it is talking into your wrist and then putting your hand to your ear, I guess some protocols are needed there although it also features Bluetooth.  So a headset could be paired up I guess.

It will run anything that can be obtained on the Android Store, which means you can use it for pretty much anything you want, and the screen shots I've seen so far show it using the sat nav app.  But the screen is only 2 inches in size so you'll be squinting quite hard to read your eBook and following your route might have to rely on the spoken instructions.

But the real insight to me are the promotional photos showing smart looking young men and women wearing the watch.  They're all very well turned out - James Bond wouldn't look out of place in the adverts - and of course, being paid models, they all look very happy.

However the watch, diminutive that it is in terms of Android phones, is actually quite intrusively bulky.  The watch itself runs in landscape format across your wrist, with the bulk of the width leaning across the top part of your hand.  I think anyone doing anything remotely normal such as leaning on their hand or simply moving their wrist will find it constrained by the watch.

This is the challenge for Apple and anyone else looking at making a wearable computer for the wrist.  No matter how functional it is, it is likely to interfere with wrist movement and become quite uncomfortable. So while a few will wear the watch to make a statement, most normal people will identify that it's much easier to use a tablet computer. Or an Android phone - who would have thought?

However Samsung announced a range of curved, bendable LCD screens this week.  These screens are just about to start production and are intended to provide more robust, crack resistant tablet screen - oh I hope Google and Asus are listening - but I reckon that the material is a natural for devices such as the iWatch. A device that wraps around the wrist like an amulet is likely to have amore usable screen and be less difficult to wear.

I wish the makers of the Androidy watch all the best, but hope that Apple and other manufacturers look at the bendy screens as the way around the obvious problems.


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