The new Android Wearable UI- will it pass the sociability test?

This week at Google’s Developer Conference the company officially unveils their second play with wearable computing. As with Google Glass (the heads up display you wear over an eye), this wearable is more discreet. Android Wear (a wearable Operating System) takes commonplace jewelry- the wrist watch- and makes it smart ie. provides you with a richer array of meaningful information. But will this new wearable UI pass the sociability test?

The interface design approach adheres to 3 essentials, according to Google’s Timothy Jordan (see video Introduction to Google Wear):

  1. Simple: You don’t have much canvas to play with. Think useful, not MacGyver or James Bond.
  2. Glanceable: Users spend 2-4 seconds, so make it visual and based on actions occurring around the user.
  3. Built around Microinteractions. Microinteractions are those little details that keep a system and a user in “synch”.

The new Android Wear UI is built on what looks like a well-thought-out user experience (UX). Specifically, Google has focused on the context of wearability: constant movement, limited interaction and quick bursts of visual attention. The UX strategy seems to weigh heavily on notifications: flight leaving, dinner appointment, meeting coming up etc. In many cases it pulls the alert from the phone, meaning your phone AND your wrist will now blow up. I don’t know about you, but the idea of one more electronic leash concerns me. This is NOT the wrist watch you want to take with you on vacation. If you are diabetic however, an alert might be valuable…

The Social Relevancy Test: Does it cater to our need for social delicateness?

One of Google’s huge public relations challenges with Google Glass has been social relevancy (see Is usability a public relations problem?). Specifically, journalist and early adopters have complained that Glass receives hostile reactions, causes them to trip or loose their children. Google has struggled not with usability but with social aspects of usage. These social elements of your user experience can cause users to stay away from your product, if you ignore them.

Think of how many decades watch and jewelry designers have perfected socially appropriate, attractive, and emotionally appealing designs– of static time-telling machines, we call wristwatches. Google’s philosophy of keeping your attention in the read world (the premise behind the heads-up display technology of Glass), and likewise with the “context stream” of glanceable notifications, has still to prove itself out.

One thing Google Wear has going for it is discreet wear. An obnoxious watch isn’t a social atmosphere killer, where a guy with Google Glass video-taping your lunch date seems to be considered distasteful. Still the ‘Wear UI’ from Google will still need to by-pass or gracefully complement our inherent need for maintaining social graces with the real world.

What do you think? Please leave your comments below…

Here’s a usage scenario video of life with Google Wear

Learn more, request a Mobile UX training

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.



Recent Posts

Scroll to top

Get a quote or discuss your project

Tell us about your project

Arrange a 30 min call

Project in mind?


Fight for the rights of your users. We'll show you how.

Read more articles like this for exclusive insights into the best ways to approach UX and Service Design challenges. Find out when events occur first. Privacy protected, no exceptions.

Subscribing indicates your consent to our Privacy Policy

Should we add you to our email list?

Privacy protected-You can unsubscribe at any time.

Download the Better UX kit