Smart Watches pt. 1

Exploring Android development has sparked my interest in smart watches.  I see I have a lot to learn.

Until now, I have ignored the smart watch market.  This is mainly because I’ve stopped wearing a watch.  I used to wear one all the time, but I’ve noticed that they have become somewhat unfashionable.  Among the generation of people with whom I socialize, almost no one wears a watch.  Everyone has a phone that tells time, and that’s what people use.  Sure, digging in your pocket or searching for your phone is less convenient than simply turning your wrist.  However, wearing a watch today marks me out as some kind of geek or old person.

I do have a watch band for an iPod nano.  However, I’ve never worn that on a regular basis.  I’ve only used it when biking, and even then, I only bike with it when I have podcasts to which to listen, because the iPod lets me back up easily, while my MP3 headset does not.

However, I noticed that Android Studio has an option for creating an Android Wear app.  And I realized that I have a killer app I would like to develop.

I’m a hunter, and I’ve long wished for a hunting watch.  What’s a hunting watch?  Well, it doesn’t exist.  But if it did, a hunting watch would be a time piece with an alarm to notify the user about the beginning and end of shooting times.  In Missouri, and in many states, deer hunting is allowed between a half hour before sunrise to a half hour after sunset.  Sunrise and sunset vary with the time of year and the latitude and longitude.  A device with a clock and a GPS can calculate it, and I use an app on my phone to do that.  Every day, I set or adjust an alarm on my phone.  And then in the morning and the evening, when I am trying to be silent and stealthy, I compulsively fumble with my phone to check the time.  It would be so much better to have all of this in a watch (or better yet, a carabiner clip).  As a timepiece, it would need to adjust to a very dim display that can be read in darkness without being a light source that calls the attention of game.

One thing I’ve learned is that I have to be careful to find out what OS the watch runs.  It’s not the same thing as what operating systems it is compatible with.

I was in the store looking at smart watches for the first time.  The Samsung watches are most prominently on display, and they currently have a piece of hardware that is absolutely gorgeous, the Samsung Gear S3 frontier.  It is a perfect balance of elegant sophistication and rugged manliness.  It has a great display and an excellent feel.  It has GPS, Bluetooth, WiFi, and if I wanted to pay for it, direct connectivity to the mobile data network.  I nearly bought one then and there, but I’m glad I did a little research on it first, because it doesn’t run Android.  It runs a completely different OS called Tizen.  Evidently, all the Samsung smart watches do.  Anything I learned about Android development would be completely useless for this watch.

I have not researched Tizen development extensively.  From what I gather, development is done in HTML5 and JavaScript.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Tizen apps are evidently web pages.  I am intrigued, but maybe not $350 worth, and not enough to delay my development path on Android.

Fortunately, there are genuine Android watches out there.  I just need to research them.

There were a few at the store.  One that caught my eye was the Nixon Mission.  It’s even more rugged and manly than the S3 frontier, designed for use during extreme sports like surfing and snowboarding.  It’s actually kind of obnoxiously huge, and the water resistance is excessive.  And it costs even more.  This is probably not the watch I will start with, but it’s nice to know that there is at least one example of something that will fulfill my needs.

My system monitoring UI app would also be great on a watch.  I will certainly have to make that happen.