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Android Wear apps: Lots of promise, lots of glitches

Chris Nerney | Sept. 22, 2014
While the Android Wear ecosystem still is in its nascent stages, developers of existing Android apps are scrambling to adapt their creations to the tiny screen.

Audio Record for Android Wear -- Enabling your smartwatch to initiate audio recording on your smartphone seems like a handy feature, but the two I've played around with so far deliver a disappointing experience. Again, first-generation growing pains.

This app suffers from three problems: One, on my Moto 360, the "Record" button is mostly off the screen. In fact, you can only see the letters "ord" way up near 11 o'clock on the watch face. Second, it seems to crash a lot. Third, the recording quality is variable. And the thing is, Audio Record for Android Wear cost me 99 cents. I paid for this microphone, Mr. Green!

I also tried Wear Audio Recorder, a free audio recording app whose round "start" button is dead center on my Moto 360 and which (unlike Android Record for Android Wear) records from your smartwatch. Sadly, the quality of the recording for me was terrible: Voices sounded choppy and robotic.

Attopedia -- This sounds like a cool app -- when it works. It didn't for me. You're supposed to be able to just tap your smartwatch screen and be able to browse Wikipedia content. But nothing happened when I tapped the screen, even after I uninstalled and reinstalled the app. I'll leave it on the phone and try some other time. Again, it might work for you; I'm just giving you my experiences.

Swipify Getting an Android Wear launcher will make your life easier because navigating your smartwatch to open an app can be a real pain. Swipify organizes your apps icons into two neat rows against a black background (see photo above), making them much simpler to locate.

This Android Wear app offers differently shaped launchers depending on the shape of your smartwatch. It certainly makes navigating apps (when you can't use voice commands) less frustrating.

Swipify also includes a number of useful functions such as the ability to control your Google Play Music Player on your smartphone and the ability to change your phone's volume from your smartwatch. It also includes a RAM monitor and displays phone and smartwatch battery levels.

I've really just started exploring Swipify, so I haven't tested all of its features. One problem I've had is swiping off the Settings screen.

In fact, swiping on your smartwatch isn't foolproof or seamless just yet. It's another one of those little things that have to get better. But it will.

 

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