Android Wear on Samsung Gear

Android Wear / Gear Live first time user experience

The above images represent the setup experience for a Gear Live Android Wear smart watch. 

The good bits:

  • The phone drives much of the device setup so that the user does not have to read instructions on the watch screen. This proves particularly helpful with the Gear Live, because its screen kept going to sleep every 3 seconds. Although not necessary to reference, the printed device manual also repeats many of the setup instructions.
  • There is no intro tour on the phone. There is only a “Make your watch smart” screen, after which a user is immediately taken to the setup flow.
  • In the case of this particular watch, pairing was successful on the first try. However, based on experiences with past devices, it is possible that there could be issues with bluetooth pairing during the initial setup.
  • The watch provides a user-guided tutorial with embedded free samples to demonstrate Android Wear functionality. This is helpful because the watch does not have a lot of space to provide help text, and gives users without any notifications lined up something to play with. The tutorial appears immediately after pairing and takes the user through a few typical card behaviors. Confirmations and prompts move at the user’s pace. The messaging in each step is casual and progressive, moving from phrases like “Easy, right?” to “Keep swiping” to “And again for actions” and finally “Got it.”  Now, since I did not have notifications in queue at the time I was using the tutorial, I am not certain whether I would have been forced to finish it before interacting with a true notification.
  • Additionally, the user can manually trigger and explore free sample cards via the phone app. The user can pick one of many sample cards to be sent to the watch for further exploration. This helps build a user’s knowledge about different card types and gives him something to enjoy if he doesn’t yet have his own content, but doesn’t force him to go through each and every one.

To be improved:

  • The watch forces the user to pair with a phone before it provides any functionality. It won’t even display the time. That the “watch” couldn’t even show the time until paired was a disappointment for me because I initially didn’t have a phone that could run Android Wear (which I did not discover until trying to install it). 
  • There is a double confirmation for access to user data.  There was a prompt when downloading the Android Wear app from the Play Store, and a prompt on the phone’s “Make your watch smart” screen. I’m not clear what would have happened had I selected “No thanks” on the latter. 
  • The “Make your watch smart” screen is overly verbose with hard-to-read text paragraphs, which confuses its purpose. Is the goal of this screen to explain what user data will be shared (as per the prompt at the bottom) or to illustrate key features? I’d recommend this screen be revisited to shorten and focus these paragraphs.
  • While the initial device pairing was painless, my watch did randomly restart and begin updating its software without first informing me. It even failed partway through and rebooted into recovery mode. If this needs to happen after pairing, it should be communicated before the update starts (especially to give the user the opportunity to charge his watch). 
  • The printed setup manual showed screenshots from Android Wear that no longer seemed relevant to the current software.