Is Google missing a trick when it comes to smartwatches and Android Wear?

Google’s new Android Wear OS, specially created for smart wearables and smart trackers and smart watches and smart anything else you could possibly strap to your body, launched with a bang this week.

We already like the look of Motorola’s Moto 360, which is the first product to be announced running on Android Wear, but can’t help but think Google may have missed an opportunity when it comes to wearables.

Watch the video above and you’re given a peek into life with an Android Wear device strapped to your arm. Sure it’s a promo video, but everything just seems so pointless and clunky. Republic Publishing’s James Holland sums up the most ridiculous part of the video (around 0:50 where a woman is running for a plane) better than we ever could:

“Android Wear isn’t smart enough to determine that she’s not ‘out for a run’, but running for her flight. It’s clever enough to present the boarding pass at the right time, in the right place, but dumb enough to obscure it with a pitifully low ‘calories burned’ message at exactly the wrong time. She even looks pissed off as she swipes it away, grimacing apologetically to the airline staff. Contextual computing, this is not.”

In his post Wound up by smartwatches, Holland goes on to identify some of the things he’d love to see in a smart watch, like wireless charging, as well as a ban on the word smart. But we think he really hits the nail on the head with his second point, which is that we don’t need an OS or a product that’s solely geared up to replace a phone.

Most of us have phones. Most of us pay an arm and a leg each month to have phones and the last thing we’d want to do is pay even more for another device that just does exactly what the phone does. Most of the notifications that the promo video tries to wow us with, like how long it’ll take to get to work, the name of a song and, shock horror, a text message are all things we already knew how to find out and watch and view and respond to on our phones years ago.

If tech giants want to continue to call their watches smart then they need to do something a little bit more than just transfer what’s going on on your phone to your wrist. Because really, when is your phone not in the palm of your hand or a matter of centimetres away?

Of course many of these gripes might just be with the Moto 360 – maybe Android Wear works a lot better with other devices? Possibly. But we can’t help but wonder whether the focus on smart wearables has just been on taking the phone experience to your wrist instead of doing anything smart at all.

Becca Caddy