Smart Watch Update

18 September 2020 by Lincoln Ramsay

I almost gave up on this watch…

It came with a fairly standard strap. The kind I can’t tolerate while working. So in order to wear it at all, I had to constantly take it off and put it on again. Literally the day I got sick of it and decided I’d just stop wearing it was the day the replacement strap arrived.

My wife’s watch came with a velcro strap. I thought it looked interesting. I hoped it would be a bit quicker/easier to take on and off. I figured it would allow for more accurate tightness control, compared to the fixed positions a buckle offers. I had ordered a similar strap for my watch.

It was night and day. This one accessory made me love the watch. Or at least, it stopped me from throwing it away.

According to the ebay listing, it’s a quick release 20mm woven nylon sport loop watch band strap. Not technically made for my watch but that’s the joy of standard connectors. The only slight downside is that I couldn’t get a “matching” colour to the white of the watch. So I got grey instead. It’s fine.

I’m not sure that it’s any quicker to take on and off. If anything, it takes a little longer to get it fitting just right. But once it’s on, it’s so light and comfortable that I don’t need to take it off again. It doesn’t even bother me while I’m typing!

I have had the watch counting my steps, tracking how much I move, and I’m still registering my daily walks, but I turned off most of the notifications and the watch face complications. The hourly move reminder is the only fitness thing I don’t have to seek out. I’ve tried the heartbeat tracking, it’s feasible now that I wear the watch all day, but I don’t really see the value in it.

Possibly because it’s no longer a novelty and I’m not touching it as much, or (apparently) because WearOS devices take a week or two to reach peak battery life, the battery seems to last better than it originally did. The heartbeat tracking is supposed to use more battery but I’ve been using it for the last week and it’s been fine.

I have found both raise to wake and tap to wake to be suboptimal, especially since I’ve been wearing the watch all the time. The watch wakes up when I didn’t want it to, yet doesn’t wake up when I want to see the time. Since the battery had been coping so well, I tried turning on Always on Display today. I turned off both raise and tap to wake, to keep the watch from waking up all the time. Being able to glance at the watch to see the time felt like a game changer. It was still going when I took it off tonight.

I turned on cloud sync again. It’s actually useful if I’ve walked to the other end of the house and my phone wants to get my attention 🙂

Very little has happened on the development and hacking fronts. I got a “hello world” watch face going. I fixed my media player so it can be controlled from the watch, but I don’t actually do that. I need to do something about my calendar notifier (the actions all do things on the phone, none of them are useful to invoke from the watch, besides dismissing the notification).

I have responded to some SMSes from my watch, just because I can. Dismissing notifications is something I’ve done. Glancing at my watch to know if I should pull out my phone is also something I’ve done.

I found a huge issue with Calendar handling. Instead of making Agenda a proper app that can be controlled like any other app, Google made it special. Which sucks, because I can’t prevent it from throwing up notifications. On my phone, I have my own app for calendar notifications, and its notifications show up on the watch, so I don’t need Agenda doing that too! I ended up turning Agenda syncing off completely. While I did like my watch to tell me what was happening next in my calendar, I can live without that.

The watch is still not living up to the what I think the WearOS pitch is. But it’s a watch that is light and comfortable enough to wear all day, and if I really can keep Always on Display on, it’ll be even better. I think there’s enough here to stop me wanting to go back to a dumb watch, even if there isn’t enough to make me want to buy a flagship model.

Update 22 Sep

I’ve had both Always on Display and 24 heartbeat tracking on for the last few days. The watch has been fine. Nice.