Why I'm not impressed with Google's Android Wear platform

In today's open source roundup: Google announces the Android Wear platform. Plus: The Witcher 2 may be coming to Steam for Linux, and Debian 8 Jesse Alpha 1 available for download

By , ITworld |  Open Source, Android, Debian

Wearables seem to be the latest fad in the world of technology, and Google has jumped on the bandwagon by announcing Android Wear. Linux Gizmos takes a look at Android Wear OS and what it might mean for users and for Google. You can, however, put me in the skeptics column about all of these wearable doodads.

Google debuted a Google Now-infused Android Wear platform for wearables based on a lightweight version of Android, which will first appear in an LG G Watch.

Google announced a wearable development platform called Android Wear, and released it as a developer preview. Based on a lightweight version of Android, Android Wear will first appear in the second quarter in a watch built by LG. Although it had been rumored that the LG-built watch would be released under a Nexus brand, there’s no mention of this in LG’s brief announcement of the G Watch.

More at LinuxGizmos

Google Android Wear Watch
Image credit: LinuxGizmos

Am I the only one that doesn't see the point in bothering with a watch? Or any other wearables at this point (you just know that there will be other kinds released later on). It just seems to be yet another device to tote around with you, even if it happens to be on your wrist.

Bear in mind that I'm not just singling out Google here. Apple is rumored to be working on some sort of watch, and Microsoft is no doubt lurking in the background with their wearable products as well. So Google is just following the trend, and no doubt wants to avoid being left behind by its competitors.

But so far what I've read about these watches seems to indicate that they perform a similar set of tasks as a smartphone. I'm not seeing anything new or unique that sets them apart beyond the fact that they are on your wrist instead of in your hand or pocket.

Are notifications so important you have to have them on your wrist instead of taking your phone out to see them? I freely confess that the jellyfish-in-the-water warning in the YouTube video above was absolutely hilarious. Perhaps they'll add shark warning notifications as well because we all know people keep their watches on while swimming at the beach. I wonder if there will be lawsuits if the watch malfunctions and someone gets eaten by a shark?

I also enjoyed the part of the video where the guy has his smartwatch on while giving his kids a bath. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. We all know that it would never get wet in that kind of situation as the kids splash around in the tub. Who knows, maybe the watch is water-proof?

Watching the video just makes me think that Google is desperate to demonstrate that there's a point to owning a smartwatch, and I'm sure we'll see similar videos from Apple and Microsoft soon to promote their wearables. It's a mark of the redundancy of smartwatches that people have to be taught that they need them and then shown what to do with them when they have them.

I have no doubt that there are folks out there who will gobble up watches from Google, Microsoft and Apple. There will always be people who have to have the latest tech doodads, but how many people are really going to want to wear these things day in and day out just to get functionality that is similar to their smartphones but on a much smaller screen?

I can't imagine bothering to put a watch on each day. I haven't worn one in many, many years and I don't miss them at all. For me it's yet another device I have to manage, charge and carry around with me and who wants to bother with that? Maybe I'm just a wearables luddite who doesn't get the sheer awesomeness of these devices.

It's possible I'm jumping the gun here by criticizing these products. Perhaps there will be some groundbreaking new uses for them that we haven't seen yet. But so far I'm just not impressed with anything I've seen about wearables.

Witcher 2 RPG could be coming to Linux
GamingOnLinux thinks that the Witcher 2 RPG might be available on Steam soon.

This is completely unconfirmed, but "The Witcher 2 Linux Beta Retail" is now an entry on SteamDB as of today.

More at GamingOnLinux

Wow, check out the video above. The game looks great! I suspect there will be some very happy Linux gamers if this appears on Steam soon, and it looks like it will.

Here's the description in the YouTube video above:

"The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings features a thoroughly engrossing, mature storyline that defines a new standard for realistic,non-linear game narration. In addition to an epic story, the game features a complex combat system that uniquely combines deep tactical elements with dynamic action."

I've got my fingers crossed for this sucker to hit Steam soon.

Debian 8 Jesse Alpha 1 available for download
Softpedia reports that the first alpha version of Debian 8 Jesse is now available for download.

The installer itself for Debian 8 "Jessie" has received a number of improvements, a hang due to interactive apt-cdrom problem has been fixed, and menu selection support of GRUB boot disk has been added.

The default desktop environment in the new Debian 8 "Jessie" is Xfce, but the decision to remain on this particular DE will be reevaluated in August 2014 and it could change by the time of the final release. Even so, the developers provide separate images for other desktop environments, such as KDE and GNOME.

More at Softpedia

Debian 8 Jesse Alpha 1
Image credit: Softpedia

While I never bother with alphas, I'm including this in today's roundup because I know there are some folks who enjoy checking them out. Have fun with it if you're one of them. You can get more information about this release in the announcement on the Debian site.

The comments about Xfce rattled me a little bit since I'm a huge fan of Xfce. I'd be very surprised if the Debian developers decide to switch to a different default desktop. Then again, stranger things have happened so we'll just have to wait and see.

What's your take on all this? Tell me in the comments below.

The opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views of ITworld.

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