Hands-on with the LG G Watch

LG G Watch. (Supplied)

LG G Watch. (Supplied)

, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:01 PM ET

Apple’s famous iWatch has been rumoured for months. But Google has jumped into the smartwatch market first with Android Wear - a tweaked version of its mobile OS designed specifically for wearable technology.

LG G Watch: Function over form

Combining Android’s voice commands with Google Now’s tailored push notifications and other real-time alerts coming from third-party applications, Android Wear promises to keep its user quietly and subtlety informed of what’s happening… That is, if you consider looking at your wristwatch every other minute a subtle social act.

Smartwatches, such as LG’s G Watch, need to be paired to an Android phone but they do provide "useful" information in a way a smartphone can’t. For instance, you’ll get detailed info on a public transit itinerary, helping you find out when’s the right time to be at the bus stop. Or receive immediate updates whenever there’s a change.

The LG G Watch is one of the first two Android Wear smartwatches to be sold in Canada, via Google’s Play Store. The other one is the Samsung Gear Live, a newer version of its Gear line of connected watches.

The G Watch sports a very simplistic, square and compact design that, LG hopes, will appeal to both women and men. The 1.6-inch display looks a bit large on smaller wrists, however. On the other hand, the cheap-looking plastic wristband can be swapped for any regular 22 mm band available in most watch stores.

Geek factor

There’s something about LG’s watch which reminds me of the famous 1980s calculator watch. It feels like a geek vintage watch in the waiting, 20 years from now. If any survive the next two decades…

On the software side, updates pop up like small square windows you can dismiss by the flick of a finger. It looks a lot like the Google Glass card-based interface. Obviously, vocal commands need to be crystal clear to be understood properly. Asking your watch for directions in a coffee shop might not yield the expected results all the time…

Then again, when it works, it’s magical. it’s literally having the whole Internet on your wrist. You just say, "OK Google," then ask a question and Google will find the answer on the interwebs. And that’s just a start. As more developers integrate Android Wear functionality into their apps, the G Watch will become more versatile.

Again, though, the battery life of those smartwatches is a major drawback. LG’s G Watch is the best of the lot, at a little more than a day’s worth of juice before it turns off. It’s not ideal, but apparently we’re still years away from the self-charging smartwatch.

Unless Apple has some secret solution up its sleeve...

LG G Watch

Android Wear smartwatch

1.65-inch display (280 x 280 px)

Bluetooth 4.0 LE, USB charging

400 mAh battery (36 hrs)

$250


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