A hybrid watch would be the perfect smartwatch if it just had Google Assistant built in.
I've been seriously ruminating over this since reviewing the LG Watch Style. I thought I would still be wearing the smartwatch by now, that it would be the device that would get me back into daily life with Android Wear. It's not; the smartwatch has since been been relegated to the bottom of my jewelry box and replaced with a hybrid variant from Fossil.
The Fossil Q Tailor can only do half of what the Watch Style can do — if at that, since this is a mechanical smartwatch we're talking about here, with no screen in sight. If I want notifications, for example, I have to assign each of my special contacts to a number on the dial. As a result, I don't use notifications.
And then I discovered what the Fossil Q hybrid can do, and that's all the simple stuff I'd wear the Watch Style for anyway. It can track my sleep, show me the time in another country, and wake me up every morning. Maybe the reason I don't use Android Wear is because it actually does too much.
Settling with simplicity
You can imagine the surprise when I tell people that my mechanical watch is actually connected to my phone via Bluetooth. I've only been wearing the Fossil Q for two weeks, but it's already become a staple in my wardrobe. The watch connects to my Pixel XL with the Fossil Q app, which offers notification controls and and the ability to set up an alarm and second time zone. The app also allows me to program the functionality of the Fossil Q's three side buttons, one of which can be programmed to stop and start music playing from the phone. There's even a tiny progress meter on the inside of the main watch face that displays the day's step counts. When you're checking the time overseas, the watch hands will move accordingly and hold for a brief second.
The Fossil Q also doesn't require nightly cradle docking. When the battery dies — the progress of which I can check in the Fossil Q app — I'll have to go out and buy a coin cell lithium battery at the cornerstone (or off Amazon) and manually place it in there by popping the back cover off of the watch. The Fossil Q is ostensibly a real watch; it just has some technological enhancements.
What if there was a version of Android Wear optimized for mechanical watches?
I was especially thankful for the fact that it doesn't require a constant charge after the Watch Style could barely hold on during the week of Google I/O. The Watch Style sports a meager 240mAh battery, and with notifications blaring at it all day, it barely managed 12 hours on one of the smartphone-heaviest days of the year. I rued packing the Android-powered watch in the first place, especially since all I wanted was to count my steps and see the time. In the end, the Fossil Q ended up being my go-to.
What could be
The last few weeks of living this sort of duplicitous watch life has made me think more about what I actually want from a wearable. The Fossil Q is a reliable mechanical watch with solid battery life and all the basic functionalities a girl can ask for. But it's severely limited when it comes to all that extra stuff that Android Wear has, like Google Assistant, and the ability to reply back to messages hands-free.
Charging the battery every six months rather than every day: priceless.
So, what if there were two versions of Android Wear? What if there were something that could be loaded onto mechanical watches and offer all the benefits of Google Assistant and hands-free message replies without having to sport a giant screen? Essentially, the mechanical watch would a Bluetooth-connected remote for your smartphone's functionality. Finally, the smartwatch could stand up on its own as practical, and stylish, accessory.
That's not to say that there is no practical use to the LG Watch Style. Rather, it just seems that there are too many different types of watch users for there to be a one-size-fits-all model for Android Wear. Maybe the future of wearables isn't in how much the device can do, but how smartly it can marry the old and new in a way that people want to wear it everyday.