After a few days of use, I figured these would be the main use cases for a smartwatch (unfortunately not all of them are possible on the Sony SW2):
- Notifications. Quickly look at phone's notifications without pulling out your phone.
- At-a-glance information when you need it. Something like Google Now cards.
- Phone settings remote. Put phone into silent / vibrate mode / airplane mode etc.
- Music remote. Pause / skip song, volume up / down. Both when listening music at home or with headphones.
- Basic call handling. Answer / reject call, pre-written SMS replies.
- Walking navigation.With map. (Not yet possible)
- Voice commands and questions. Siri / Google Now style. (Not possible as has no mic / speaker)
In the following, I will walk through each use case one by one and tell you how I set up my watch to handle it. Different people have different opinions on these, so your mileage may vary.
Sony ships a bunch of integration apps for Facebook, Twitter, Gmail etc. But in reality they are not that great. For example, the Facebook app fails to notify me of Facebook messages. And by default, both Facebook and Twitter apps make your hand vibrate really often because it includes every single post out there in your news feed (what's up with that??).
So I just removed all these applications, and instead I installed WatchNotifier. It basically forwards all your Android notifications to your smartwatch. Every single one. And all apps are supported. You'll need to filter out some applications like Download Manager, Google Play Store, Google Search, SmartWatch 2 etc to avoid getting a smartwatch notification on things like app upgrades or on every minor Google Now card change.
There is also a free alternative, Wristn for SmartWatch. The main difference being that notifications on your watch don't clear out when you look at the phone (which would keep your watch notification queue clean).
2-4. Information at a glance and remote control
There are many apps on the market to handle these use cases. But frankly, most of them just don't meet expectations or they don't exist.
But there's a trick.
There exists a way to place any regular Android widget on your smartwatch. Yup, you heard that right. You can use any Android home-screen widget... on your watch. Meet Remote Widget for SmartWatch 2. It's the app that in my opinion changes everything. And ironically, I don't think Sony thought about how powerful it could be. The genius behind it is that it uses an already existing API - Android widgets (with tons of third-parties already on it) to define app-like entities on the watch.
So I configured widgets for Google Now (information when you need it), Spotify (control music on my phone), SpotCommander (control music on my desktop), Widgetsoid (phone settings remote control), FlightTrack 5 (next flight information) and Tasker (to run a certain task which puts my desktop to sleep).
Bonus: You can also have Facebook, Twitter, Google+ widgets and they work ok. But you'd likely use your phone (rather than your watch) for these tasks, really.
There is a catch, though. A lot of commands on existing widgets cause an app to launch in order to show you more content / information. The app launches on the phone, not on the smartwatch (obviously). So, for example, you can only use the Google Now widget to glance at the information on it. You can't tap it to see more details (as it would open Google Now on your phone). At least you can use Remote Widget's "Filter" function to remove these areas on the widget's surface and avoid accidentally opening apps on the phone.
Another problem is that you can't have a widget (or any other smartwatch app for that matter) to replace the standard watch faces. You're unfortunately stuck here. The best you can do is leave the Remote Widget app open (don't navigate away from it) so that when you double-press the watch's button to unlock, you go straight into it.
If you can think of any other interesting widgets to use on your watch, do leave a comment. I'd love to hear what other people may come up with.
5. Basic call handling
Sony's app seems to do just fine here. Though it would've been nice if it had the option to answer calls with the phone in speaker mode.
6. Walking navigation
This isn't yet possible, but wouldn't this be so awesomely cool?
You can however see a map of where you are, with Where Am I for SmartWatch and get text directions with the Maps' application notifications that come up via Wristn (mentioned in 1. above). Watch Notifier doesn't work for this unfortunately. :(
7. Voice commands and questions
Not possible due to missing mic and speaker. :(
That's all there is to it. Your preference and use cases may vary, but I'd love to hear if you find other interesting uses for your watch. Do leave a comment below if your setup is different.
Secondary use cases I can think of could include finding your phone or locking your phone when it loses connectivity with the watch (possible via a Tasker automation - the app that can do this out of the box is really bad in my opinion).
But really, most of the things I would imagine doing with a smartwatch are already there. And, to me, it makes a lot of difference in the way I use my devices every day. It's not a gadget you need, but after experiencing it, it's hard to imagine going back. Like I mentioned before, the main problem right now is the cumbersome / unintuitive configuration you need to do to get the most out of your watch, which is inaccessible to the average Joe. But I'm pretty confident this will change in future iterations.