Just interested to hear peoples’ thoughts on where the market for full Android watches is going. I’ve only been aware of them and following this site for about 6 months but it doesn’t seem like there’s much momentum nor any innovation beyond updating to a version of Android that is 2 generations behind mainstream phones.
The way that the market has developed confuses me. On the one hand, we have full Android, a fully-fledged, standalone OS capable of some serious computing; on the other, we have a nearly universal form factor (round face) that is not particularly conducive to using the abilities of the OS. Most people interested in a FAW are looking to replace a mainstream phone, at least some of the time, but phone apps are far from optimal for round screens and are not being optimised for the application. Currently, it doesn’t seem that the FAW market knows whether it wants to be tech-focussed or fashion-focussed and, as a consequence, isn’t doing either particularly well.
Then there is a community, or communities, crying out for a device that can replace their handheld device for very specific applications. In my case (I have type-1 diabetes) it’s to run specialised Android apps that monitor my blood sugar and administer insulin via a pump to try to maintain my blood sugar within an acceptable window. For this, I need to be connected to 2 devices via Bluetooth 24/7 and to the cloud via either cellular data or wifi. That takes its toll on the battery and I can’t afors to be tied to a charger several times a day, so a big battery or very efficient hardware/OS is critical; so is a screen that can display the data, including trend graphs, and can give access to all onscreen buttons for my apps, so it needs to be square or rectangular.and probably at least 1.5 inches across (say, 2" diagonal) but not a big brick. Finally, it has to be reliable (so, fairly high quality) because it’s keeping me alive. Currently, I use a small Chinese handheld (cost about $AU150/$US100) that is not particularly high quality but, it appears, still higher quality than the FAWs currently on the market. People have been running these to do what I am doing for years without them failing, yet I regularly read about FAWs dying after only a few months. My handheld is great but I have to get it out of my pocket to check on my system everynow and then and it gets left behind on the desk or in the car and loses connection with my devices so I am just attached to a dumb pump. I’ve done it at least twice today by lunch time… That’s the allure fo the FAW, even when I have to check on my system, it remains attached to me. There are many, some on this forum, who are likewise interested in such a use case and actively looking into the options. There is a much bigger community of people with diabetes who have closed loop systems - probably thousands - who would move to a FAW if there was a suitable option…
What the FAW market needs is for Samsung and/or one of the other big players in the Android device game to come in and raise the quality level and for the makers to take note that, as Apple has demonstrated, people will happily wear a sguare or rectangular watch. Without this sort of intervention by a big manufacturer, I think that the FAW market will remain a niche, hobby-based market and will probably splutter out in a couple of years’ time.