How will the arrival of the Apple Watch affect Google's Android Wear? Well, we probably won't see evidence of that until later this year, but we do now at least have our hands on the first Wear watch to go on sale after the Apple Watch. Read on for our first impressions of the LG Watch Urbane (and the new version of Android Wear that it's running).
Update: No need for these early impressions, you can now read Gizmag's full LG Watch Urbane review.
In terms of specs, the LG Watch Urbane is pretty much the same device as the LG G Watch R, one of our favorite smartwatches of 2014. Its main body has the same basic shape, including fully round 1.3-inch display. The big difference is that, instead of the black stainless steel finish with diving watch-inspired dial markings that we saw on the G Watch R, the Urbane's stainless steel has a cleaner metallic look.
It looks pretty spiffy in person, but it also looks humongous. That isn't, however, because it's bigger than the G Watch R (or unusually big compared to any other Android Wear watches). It's simply because we've spent the last week using the Apple Watch. Apple made an advanced wearable that's about the size of a regular timekeeping watch (will they one day be called "dumb watches?"), and the Urbane isn't keeping up in that respect.
Here's a look at how enormous the Watch Urbane looks next to the Apple Watch (and this is the bigger 42 mm Apple Watch we're using):
The Watch Urbane is the first watch to run Google's latest version of Android Wear, which brings Wi-Fi connections and some hands-free gestures to the table. But our favorite change so far is the ability to jump straight to the Android Wear apps list by tapping on the screen or holding down the side button. The clunky process of firing up an individual app on Android Wear has long been a weakness, so it's nice to see Google address it.
We'll have much more on the Watch Urbane and its new software in our full review, so stay tuned. Right now it looks like one of the snazzier-looking Wear watches, with snappy performance and the latest software ... but these Wear watches need to start slimming down quickly. Apple has raised the bar in that respect, and the Urbane is sized like a 2014 Android Wear watch that happens to be launching in early 2015. We want to see some new Wear gear for the post Apple Watch era – and we wouldn't be surprised to see some of those at Google I/O later this month.
The LG Watch Urbane is available now to order from Google, in either silver (pictured) or gold. It costs US$350.