Friday, March 18, 2016

Android Overdose

Greetings and salutations my fellow Otakus, thanks for dropping by! First off, if you couldn't tell by the title and header photo, this isn't a plamo related post and you're most welcome to bail. But for those of  you who have been kind enough to follow even my non-build related ramblings, you'd know that I'm also a huge fan of the Android OS. Since the Froyo days (Android 2.2 circa 2010) I've been fascinated by the level of customization one can achieve with an Android device, and through the years, the platform has matured into a mobile computing powerhouse that has given a certain fruit company a run for its money.

click on the Read More link for the rest of this post...

Back in 2012, I had to part with my beloved 1st-generation Galaxy Tab when I had no other means to fund my fledgling addiction to Plamo. But as fate would have it, I'd be reunited with Android only a year later in the form of a hand-me-down Galaxy Note. I put that device through its paces and even used it to draft up scribing and plating layouts for my builds (read about it here).

Flash forward to 2014, Google shook the foundations of mobile computing yet again, by announcing a wearable version of their OS: the aptly named Android Wear.
Smartwatches have been around for a while and I've never been interested, but the idea of having an android device on my wrist was just too nerdtastic. A Galaxy Tab S was serving as my phone at the time, and although it's great for work and media consumption, fishing an 8.4-inch tablet out of my bag every time I had to read or send a text message was less than ideal. A smart watch would make everything easier for me, plus handling notifications and tasks from my wrist like a freaking secret agent was more than my inner (or should I say outer?) nerd could resist.

Alas, it was not yet meant to be. When they were first released, Android watches were just too damn expensive to justify. Months went by.    A year.    Two years.    Finally the timing was right, I asked my wife (more like pleaded, begged, and threw a full-on tantrum like a 6-year-old at Toys-R-Us) if I could maybe get a smart watch since the price had somewhat gone down. She said yes. (Yay! I love her.) I ended up with a Sony Smartwatch 3. Not the prettiest of watches, I believe that title belongs to the Huawei - but I like the minimalist design. Although released in 2014, the Smartwatch 3 is still comparable to newer releases from other brands thanks to a solid spec sheet and feature set. I know some of you are thinking I could have spent the cash on kits.. you're reading a plamo blog after all. Thing is, I've got about 7 kits in my backlog and that's more than enough to keep me busy for a year. Besides, this thing is pure genius. How could I say no to pure genius?

Remember a few walls of text ago when I said it would be great paired with my tablet? It's all that and more. Allow me to list down some use cases, and then you can decide for yourself (a.k.a. agree with me 100%) if it was totally worth the cost of a Perfect Grade kit. (Warning: excessive gushing over 2-year old tech up ahead!..)

1. It got me into running. I've logged nearly 50 km in the past 2 months. That's more than I've ran in the past 10 years. I've never had the motivation to run until I had the watch - which logs my step count, pace and distance traveled. It also has GPS tracking and pairs with a bluetooth headset for music.I always wondered what people got from wearing fitness trackers - there's something strangely satisfying about seeing your physical activities presented in colorful graphs.  

2. It's great for managing notifications. If you've ever had to pull out your buzzing phone in the middle of an important meeting only to find out it was a useless promo text from your carrier,  you'd know how annoying this can get. Now I can just glance at the watch and see if it's something important that I need to address right away, or simply swipe it away if it's garbage. Wrist gestures and voice control mean I can send a text message without having to set down the heavy bag of groceries I'm carrying, or let go of my son's hand while walking around the mall.

3. It works as a remote for my phone. I can operate my phone's camera and use the watch screen as a viewfinder - this has many applications, including using the phone as a baby monitor when I need to step out of the bedroom while my 3-year-old is asleep. I've also set my laptop to take commands from the watch, so I can work a Powerpoint presentation from my wrist during meetings (makes everyone else in the room feel like a dinosaur). It also controls the phone's media player. 

4. It's a personal assistant on my wrist. I can ask it for directions and it fires up google's turn-by-turn navigation. I can tell it to send a text message or an email for me. I can tell it to make an appointment and it creates a google calendar entry for me. I can tell it to remind me of something at a certain time or when I arrive at a certain location and it nags me like an overenthusiastic intern. These can also be done on the phone itself, <kardashian voice> but that's like, soooo 2013... </kardashian voice>. If only I could replace the activation phrase "Ok Google.." with "Hey Jarvis.."...  

5. The watch can tell the time like it's nobody's business. There's an almost endless list of watch faces to choose from, or you can design one yourself with apps like Pujie and WatchMaker. I work with overseas counterparts, and with minimal configuration it can check the time in any city around the world without having to perform mental timezone and daylight savings calculus.

With the SW3 on, my chunky tablet-phone now stays in the bag unless absolutely necessary, which is how it's supposed to be. I'm dying to go into the more complicated things I've achieved with the watch but this post on Android Wear is starting to wear out its welcome *cough*. I'd start another blog for my adventures in Android land if I had the time. You'll just have to bear with me on these occasional off-topic ravings. Don't fret, a plamo oriented post is coming up as soon as I take some decent photos of what I've been working on. 

Got an Android Wear device? Tell me how it's been working out for you in the comments section below! 

meanwhile in japan...


  1. Great post. I always liked the way you review plamos and I think you reviewing tech stuff is a great step up.

    1. thanks! wish I could be a tech blogger...if only I could afford more tech! lol

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