Google on Wear 2.0: “We’re listening very closely to our developers” (and that’s the problem with Wear)

Why on earth does a smartwatch need a speaker? Or a ridiculous, microscopic keyboard? And this idea that a smartphone needs to be “standalone” and function just like a smartphone?!

I think I learned the answer: This morning I watched the Android Wear 2.0 deep dive at the Google I/O conference now happening in Mountain View.

There, after giving a demo of that ridiculous, microscopic watch keyboard that no one ever asked for (exception below), a slightly nervous presenter said, “We’re listening very closely to our developers.”

Oh no. Therein lies the problem.

Granted, I/O is a developer conference. Google should be embracing the people who build apps, and ultimately help promote the various flavors of Android.

My suspicion, however, is that the Wear team in particular is soliciting too much feedback from developers on where its two year old OS should go next. Hence: a smartwatch with an unneeded speaker, and a ridiculous, microscopic keyboard.

Instead, Google should be doubling down on the end user. The likes of us who may or may not want to buy the product. Polling this audience will undoubtedly result in far different feature requests and hopefully instill some sanity into the prioritization process at Mountain View HQ.

I Present to You: Keyboard Hell

Android Wear QWERTY keyboard Hell
Something none of us normal people ever wanted: a full QWERTY keyboard on a 1.4-inch screen.

Another good place to start: the Google Play Store itself.

Check out the reviews for Google’s very own Wear app — the one required to pair an iOS or Android phone with a Wear-based smartwatch. It’s gets ugly real fast. Connection issues. Bugs. Crashes. This is a two year old app, made by Google, and it’s very evident all is not so peachy in the promised land.

Anyone who checks in to Stark Inside from time to time, know I’m a die-hard Android guy. I like the openness. I like that I can occasionally geek out and flash a ROM when I’m looking for cheap thrills. And I like key Google apps — Gmail and Calendar in particular — better than their counterparts on the iPhone.

Still, I have to scratch my head sometimes.

Who is in charge on these Android teams? And why, on earth, are they so-so, overly, dangerously engineering-centric? I think the answer was clear for all to see today at I/O.

Yes, developers and customers are both essential.

When it comes to Wear, I just wish Google would demonstrate it has a better grasp of the latter. Hint: Even poor Little Pebble seems to understand the critical nature of this balance.