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The stylish Samsung Gear Live takes your wearable experience to the next level by combining Google’s Android Wear platform with Samsung mobile innovation. Gear Live is compatible with any smartphone with Android 4.3, Jelly Bean or higher, so your app notifications and personal information come with you, like flight status and messages. And when you say “OK Google,” you can ask a question about anything, from turn-by-turn navigation steps to team stats-even find out your heart rate.
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The main problem was that it only seemed to be useful for monitoring phone status. That's OK, but not really worth adding another gadget to my life.
Regardless, after messing around with it for a couple of days, it started to click - and now I'm wondering how I could live without it.
Here are some things I did, both right and wrong, as I was messing with this watch:
1) When I first got it, I installed 'Wear Store for Android Wear', and that's where I was looking for new apps.
That's a great app; but, the first major turning point for me was when I started using the 'Browse Suggested Apps' link from the standard 'Android Wear' application. As soon as I did that, I started to discover quite a few cool apps that are making this watch a lot more useful and fun!
2) I was worried about battery life - but that has turned out to be a non issue. I think the main difference is that I'm using a black watch face, so the battery usage is pretty low throughout the day. I wear it from 7:30am to right around midnight, with pretty heavy use, and I've never ended a day with less than 35% battery left.
I do have to charge it overnight; but, I'm fine with that since I don't wear it at night anyway.
Just to give you an idea, here is how I'm using mine:
- It's set to leave the watch face on all the time (turning it off when I wasn't looking was driving me crazy)
- The brightness setting is on the brightest setting because I couldn't see it outside on the lower settings.
- I used it constantly to read & respond to both emails and texts - and I'm getting to the point where I use the watch as much or more than I use my phone.
3) I'm a huge fan of Qi wireless charging, so I ended up getting a Universal QI Charging Receiver and attaching it to the Gear Live's charger. That way I can just set it on a Qi charger overnight without worrying about another cable.
4) There aren't many watch faces available because Google hasn't released an official API yet, but there are a few available in the Play Store. My favorite is the 1weather face - which shows the time, weather, & battery percentage - and has a black background when it's active or in standby.
I suspect this is a huge part of the reason I'm not having battery life issues - because AMOLED displays don't use any battery to display black.
If you do use this watch face, I would recommend changing the settings in the Android Wear application to hide notification cards when the screen is dimmed. They just don't look right with the 1weather watch face in dimmed mode.
5) The most useful app I found was the 'Wear Mini Launcher' - and that's a huge part of what made this watch start to feel more useful. Using voice controls is fine; but, I feel like an idiot talking to my watch in the office. :)
6) Having said that, when I'm running around town I do love being able to respond to texts and emails right from my watch without having to pull out the phone.
Believe it or not, voice works pretty well for both texts and emails - and it's good for taking an occasional note as well.
7) Here are some of my favorite apps:
- The 'CloudMagic' email app is much better than the native gmail and email applications. If you deal with multiple email accounts, it's excellent for allowing some accounts to notify you of messages on the watch, while leaving others so you can check them when you have time. It's also easier to read the email notifications if you have more than one unread message.
- I've always just used the built-in Messaging app for texts; but, you need to use 'Hangouts' if you want to respond to texts from the watch. Hangouts was already installed on my S5, I just hadn't ever used it.
- The built-in clock does everything from setting alarms, timers, and has a good stopwatch. Be aware that alarms set on the watch will only go off on the watch - NOT on the phone.
- I use OneNote for everything; but, it doesn't have support for these Android Wear devices yet. In the meantime, I'm using Evernote - which is also a great note-taking app, but I'm still excited for OneNote to be available.
- 'Calendar for Android Wear' by Kodeglam Mobile is an awesome little app that lets me access my calendar and daily schedule directly on the watch. It actually works very well - even in the small form factor.
- 'Ringtone Remote' is pretty cool because it's so easy to mute my phone without pulling it out of my pocket.
- 'Wear Buddy' is useful for finding a misplaced phone.
- There are several calculator apps as well.
8) My biggest complaint is that the notification buzzer just isn't strong enough. When I get a text, I'd like to know it - and I often miss the signal when I'm in the middle of doing something.
Even though I wasn't immediately impressed, I'm now completely sold on these devices. I suspect the next couple of years will see multiple advances in Android Wear technology, so I'll probably feel like I need a new watch in a year as the technology advances - but it's still fun to watch a platform like this develop.
If you're the type of person who misses texts and emails because you don't hear them, you just don't like pulling your phone out all the time, or you like messing with new tech gadgets - then I would highly recommend giving this watch a try!
I had the Galaxy Gear 2 and this watch concurrently and absolutely preferred the Gear Live over the gear 2. After using them both for a week I chose this watch over the gear 2 and returned it. I love Ok Google, the variety of free apps available, and the notifications on my wrist. This watch completely met my expectations. The only thing I preferred with the Gear 2 was the ability to call people directly from your wrist, which is not possible on this watch as there are no speakers on this watch, only a mic. OK Google is vastly superior to S Voice. I like that Ok Google does not have to read back my commands, especially in public places where it is somewhat awkward to speak to your watch let alone having it talk back to you. S Voice, as far as I know, had no option to turn off feedback. With OK GOOGLE I can say "text so and so" and it does so without pestering me about the correctness. It is correct most of the time, but when its not I can read and cancel the text within 5 seconds of speaking the command with the touch screen. It does most of the stuff OK GOOGLE does on my phone. The battery life was pretty good too.
However, after 2 months of owning this watch, I ran into some major technical issues and Samsung Support has been slow and unhelpful. Now the watch does not work. I'm getting google play services has stopped working errors along with other errors. I can't even reset the watch because constant error messages disrupt the reset. The Boot menu is broken to manually restore it as well.
When I called Samsung and gave them the serial number they told me the device isn't registered and they can't even look at it or repair it until they register it. I waited a week and called again and they still hadn't registered my device. They told me to go to the Best Buy Samsung Service Center, however they were rude and unhelpful. They didn't understand why Samsung had me go there either as they don't even fix devices. Even after they register it, they said it will be 2 weeks until they can look at the watch and repair it meaning I'd have no watch almost a month.
Thank God for Amazon's great customer support. I called and they were able to issue a refund on this watch and now I don't have to deal with Samsung's ridiculous support or this broken product.
Just purchased the Moto 360 which looks better anyways and has basically the same functionality. Hopefully Motorola's support will be better if it comes to that. Was $300 but on sale for $200 today. What Luck!