It’s fair to say that Android Wear is at a bit of a crossroads.
The good news is that it’s finally ready to hit the accelerator with the Watch Sport, a flagship that’s been co-designed by Google and LG to showcase Android Wear 2.0’s many talents.
Is this the gleaming superwatch that will finally make you believe in Android Wear? We’ve had a play with it, and our early impressions are that it just might do the trick.
Think 'smart-casual' rather than 'gym bunny'
The name says ‘Watch Sport’, so this is a heavyweight challenger to Garmin’s Vivoactives and Nixon’s Mission, right?
Not exactly. On the outside and in, the LG Watch Sport actually has more in common with the Samsung Gear S3 Classic and Apple Watch S2. It’s a smart, stainless-steel looker that’s been designed to be worn all day, rather than just when getting a sweat on.
On the flipside, the watch’s hefty 14.2mm thickness and lack of waterproofing (an IP68 rating makes it OK for showers, not swims) give a sense that this is a Sports watch with a slight identity crisis.
A showcase for Android Wear 2.0
So if it’s not designed to out-Garmin Garmin, what is the Watch Sport here to do? In short, show off Android Wear 2.0: the reason Google got involved rather than just let LG make its own watch was to get the hardware and OS working with Apple-like slickness.
In a few ways, it very much succeeds. The most obvious is the watch’s spinning crown which, while not exactly sticking it to Apple, takes advantage of Android Wear’s new support for rotational input.
What’s that mean? Spin it up or down and you’ll whizz through your list of apps, which now nicely move along with the curve of the screen. In our play with the Watch Sport, this was snappy and fun, no doubt helped by the Snapdragon Wear CPU and generous RAM (768MB, fact fans).
Two other new Android Wear features are deemed worthy of button support. Press the lower button and you’ll get quick access to Android Pay; once pressed, you choose your card, touch the watch on the reader, then walk away smugly.
Give the crown a long press, meanwhile, and you’ll also get to bend the ear of the same Google Assistant found on the Pixel phones. That means simple questions such as “do I need an umbrella tomorrow?” and “start a timer for five minutes” no longer even require fishing around for your phone.