1. epic_user's Avatar
    Like many walkers and runners, I like to do walks/runs with RunKeeper and Pandora. Before I got my Sony SmartWatch 3, if I needed to see the name of a song or my RunKeeper stats while I was running, I would need to dig my phone out of my pocket, press the button to activate it, unlock it, navigate to the appropriate app, try to see the data in the bright sunlight by cupping my hands over the screen, then re-lock the phone, and try to put it back in my pocket without accidentally unplugging my earbuds. Needless to say it tended to take me out of the zen of my run.

    I wanted to be able to go for a run/walk and be able to see data (time/date, weather, RunKeeper stats, Pandora song and artist, etc.) with just a glance at my watch in the bright sunshine. So I created a watchface prototype (which I call RunDora) in WatchMaker (see photo) that has the data I'd like to see. The top tiers of the watchface, weather data, batteries, and time/date actually work because there were tags for them in WatchMaker. The bottom two tiers are for Pandora and RunKeeper. Unfortunately there were no tags for Pandora or RunKeeper data, so the Pandora and RunKeeper tiers are just dummy data.

    Mashups - the Hidden Potential of Android Wear-outdoors_ambient_mode_small.jpg

    I found that I could see the Pandora data when a new song starts as a notification card at the bottom of the screen, so I created a new watchface (see photo) that gets rid of the dummy data at the bottom of the screen to leave a blank space for the Pandora card. The Pandora card contains the name of the artist (if it's not too long), the title of the track (if it's not too long) and a pause button. I found that by swiping up, then back down and then to the left on this card I could (sometimes) get to the Pandora controls. The controls were very ephemeral - they would usually display for about a second and then the watchface would appear again. Sometimes to get to the Pandora controls, I would need to swipe up several cards and then back down again and then to the left. Once or twice I just swiped to the left and got the controls. The point is that it is very quirky, unreliable, and inconsistent, and entails way too much finger-swiping.

    Mashups - the Hidden Potential of Android Wear-peek_card_small.png

    Getting to the RunKeeper stats was a little simpler (at first). I just swiped left on the watchface once - or twice - or three or four times - to get to the apps, swiped up to the RunKeeper app and tapped on the RunKeeper app (once or twice would usually do it), and then I could see my RunKeeper stats - for a while. Later in my run instead of displaying the stats for my run, it displayed a big "Start" button. But I had never stopped my run! I know the run was still going, because it was still being displayed on the RunKeeper app on my phone (from which I had started it). I'm not sure what would have happened if I had tapped the start button on my watch. Would it have displayed the stats for my current run? Would have ended my current run and started a new one? Would it have started a second run on top of my current one? Who knows.

    All this crazy finger-swiping and tapping is for the birds. The lesson here is that Android Wear is still very quirky, buggy, and unreliable. This is definitely beta software. It isn't so bad for tech geeks like myself, but it is not ready for the general public. Smart watches are not and probably never will be the indispensible devices that smart phones have become.

    However I think in all of this I have seen a glimpse of what could make smart watches must-have devices for a large segment of the population - and that is mashups. I created my little RunDora watchface as a mashup of weather, battery, date/time, Pandora and RunKeeper data (or at least I tried to), because that's what I wanted to see on my runs. With just a glance I should have been able to see all of the data I was interested in while I was running. With one simple tap on the Pandora tier of my mashup, I should have been able to go directly to the Pandora controls or with one simple tap of the RunKeeper tier I should have been able to go directly to the RunKeeper controls.

    And that's the point - I should have been able to do that. The data from any app in Android Wear - in fact, any app in Android - ought to be importable as a tag library in WatchMaker and available to the smart watch owner to create a customized watchface just for that user's own use. The mother of a medically impaired toddler should be able to create a mashup that allows her to see with a simple glance the real-time data for her son's medical monitoring equipment. A delivery business should be able to fashion a mashup that displays everything their drivers need for their next delivery. Any one should be able to customize a watchface that brings together the data from any applications they need to monitor for any particular activity in which they are engaged. And they ought to be able to tap any tier of data on their watchface to instantly bring up the controls for the application that produced it.

    If Google could refine Android Wear to offer these tag libraries that could be imported into WatchMaker (or Facer - I don't wish to discriminate) that would allow its users to create these kinds of custom data mashups on their watchfaces, I think it would revolutionize smart watches and for many people it could become a compelling reason to wear an Android Wear smart watch.
    06-24-2015 05:39 PM
  2. SpookDroid's Avatar
    Problem with that is that there's an actual Android Wear API for Watchfaces now... so if any 3rd party app integration will come out of that, it'll probably have to be done through that API and not sure if it'll be accessible to apps like WatchMaker of Facer (which kinda sucks, TBH)
    06-24-2015 06:28 PM
  3. mr_nobody's Avatar
    Honestly, I don't think android wear is the problem. The problem is that the _apps_ you want to extract data from are not offering any apis to do so with. Ultimately, if you can find some way to harvest the data you want on your phone, you can send it to a watchmaker face using tasker.
    06-25-2015 12:08 PM
  4. epic_user's Avatar
    I've apparently done a very poor job of expressing myself in my original post, so please allow me to clarify my point.

    First of all, I know that it is not possible to do mashups of data from Android Wear apps at present. If it was possible I would have done it and I would not be posting to this forum.

    Secondly, I know that Google would need to make changes in AW in order to make this happen. I can't believe that making these mashups possible is that hard. Using a tag library paradigm, the Android Wear framework merely needs to provide a way of allowing AW app developers to designate certain read-only data as being exportable data items representable as tags in the AW app's tag library. AW could also provide a special launcher tag in the tag library to launch the AW app. These tag libraries could then be imported by watchface-maker apps - or perhaps AW should provide its own watchface-maker app for this purpose.

    End users could then customize their own watchfaces for whatever purpose suited them. This would allow AW to become something more than a quirky curiosity for bored geeks and actually become a useful tool for the general public.
    06-28-2015 05:12 PM
  5. N4Newbie's Avatar
    As a general rule, no app's data is available to any other app. This is the core of Google/Android's basic security model.

    So, while I think your idea is a good one, I don't know if will/can ever happen in real life.
    06-29-2015 12:19 PM
  6. SpookDroid's Avatar
    You do have access to notifications, and apps can have APIs to fetch data off of them, so it's doable. Both the OS and the app devs would have to get on board, though. It's like moving apps to SD cards now or even MultiWindow; it's possible, but if the app dev doesn't implement it, it's a no-go.
    06-29-2015 03:53 PM
  7. epic_user's Avatar
    You are right, SpookDroid, if an app doesn't make the data available in the tag library, it would not be available for the mashup. And perhaps there is a way of capturing this data from notifications, but that's not something the end user could be expected to do. Maybe there is an opportunity here for a watchface-maker app to make notification data available to the user to display within their custom watchfaces. That would be a step in the right direction. Is this something you can do with tasker?
    06-30-2015 08:44 AM

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