I was so excited. For months, I’ve been wearing a Pebble Time – a good smartwatch, don’t get me wrong. But I really love Android Wear, and since my Moto 360 took a bad fall on a tile floor months ago, I have been Android Wearless. I had one brief flirtation with the Casio Smartwatch a few weeks back, but alas, the review period was only long enough to further whet my appetite. Android Wear is pretty honking cool. But man does it have issues.
Android Wear is in many ways more versatile than Pebble and its Timeline. I used to say that I never used my calendar so Timeline never mattered to me, but since then I’ve started obsessively using my calendar…and it still doesn’t matter all that much to me. There are some cool things that Pebble can do – last more than a week without charging, mostly – and I love the Pebble. But Android wear is so integrated into Google’s ecosystem, it’s a much more seamless experience. Especially now that I have Google Home, everything now ties in together with each other.
I can stream a podcast from my phone to Google Home and pause it with my watch. I can stream Netflix to my TV and…well, ok pause it with my watch. I can answer a phone call with my watch, route it to a Bluetooth headset, then when the call is over I can…PLAY Netflix with my watch. Who said I’m a one-trick pony? Some of that is possible with the Pebble, but Android Wear is simply a better experience.
But when it comes to setting up an Android Wear watch, let’s just say there’s some room for optimization. There are bases that haven’t been covered in the years that it has been out. I recently got a Moto 360 Sport, and while I won’t take you through the entire setup experience blow by blow, I will tell you that the damn thing almost came to blows. There was legitimate anger. I’m sorry, and I’m not proud.
It wasn’t pretty
But between factory resets, simple failures to detect the watch, restarts of the phone, forgetting Bluetooth, connecting to Bluetooth, forgetting Bluetooth again, and standing on my head while facing east on a Thursday, it was arguably the most frustrating part of my week, and I have two kids. I even took to Twitter to vent my rage, and I pretty much got reassuring nods in return. “Yeah brother. We hear you. Been there.”
But the problem with that is, this should not be a thing. Google has had years to work this out. It hasn’t gotten any better. Android Wear does work pretty well – or at least the Moto 360 Sport has – since I got it set up. But getting over that hump was enough to almost make me ask for my money back. It was only through sheer force of will and dogged perseverance that I can finally triumphantly hold up my wrist. And don’t even get me started with the watch face and that god-awful tutorial I had to go through half a dozen times.
Do it right
I have never set up an Apple watch. But I’m going to go out on a limb – and feel free to correct me in the comments if I am wrong – and say that it is nowhere near the clusterbleep that connecting an Android Wear watch to a phone is. Some of that is likely because one watch works with one operating system, all designed by the same company. So maybe Apple is on to something here.
And the really crappy part about all of this is – this isn’t even the reason Android Wear adoption is so low. Because people don’t find out about this until they’ve already adopted it. Sure, some will return the watch, or throw it in the garbage disposal if they’re anything like me. But the fact that Google rewards adopters with this miserable experience is basically unforgivable. And it leads to editorials like this, which will come up in the search results when someone ironically Google’s “smartwatch setup”. If they don’t run screaming from the store, that’s definitely a step in the right direction, but I’m not so sure “trial by fire” is a winning sales model.
Sharing is caring
Now, some of you have already dropped to the comments to tell me I’m crazy and every watch you’ve ever set up has been smooth as a banana peel. If that’s the case, I strongly suspect that you’re the outlier, not me. But now I’m curious. Share your Android Wear setup horror stories in the comments below. I’m told that misery loves company, so let’s all relive our misery below for the sake of all the others who come here to vent.