Android Wear hasn’t stood out to me in the smartwatch market as a platform of serious contention since its inception a year and a half ago. Android Wear just seems to be nothing short of “slap Android onto a watch and give it Google Play Store apps access and people will buy it.” This may not be the case, but the current Android Wear lineup hasn’t done much to convince me otherwise. Just take a small stroll through the current Android Wear offerings available at the Google Store (the TAG Heuer Connected Carrera is advertised there but not available for purchase), and you’ll see that there’s very little that distinguishes one from another – aside from smartwatch names, that is.
This is a problem for me as a smartwatch customer who loves having a smart wearable on her wrist. There is some change in this scene, however, with Huawei bringing new women’s watches (Watch Jewel and Watch Elegant) that sport new watch faces, and Fossil with its distinct watch faces for the Fossil Q Founder, but little else.
In walks Casio with its new Smart Outdoor Watch. Called the WSD-F10 (yes, Casio kept the typical catalogue ramble on this one) may not have a name to win your heart and dollars, but the capabilities of this smart watch should serve as a lesson to all of the entire current Android Wear lineup (listen up LG, Sony, Motorola, Huawei, and Asus!). The WSD-F10 presents a customized experience for Casio watch wearers who’ve always prized rugged wrist wearables that can survive the elements. Apart from its water and dust resistance, you also have some built-in features that come from Casio and Casio alone:
• Six original watch faces (you won’t find these available for download on all other Android Wear smartwatches)
• Activity tracker (for fishing, trekking, cycling, etc.)
• Tide graph to help you decide where to fish
• Runkeeper app for running and cycling
• Sunrise/Sunset times
• MyRadar Weather Radar App
• Camera Monitor and Controller
• Viewranger GPS app for trekking
Fishing, trekking, cycling, and so on are outdoor actions that outdoorsmen prize and do all the time, so Casio decided to tailor its Android Wear smartwatch to that market. A tide graph is perfect for fishermen who want to catch as much fish as possible on the days they get to fish (some fish less, others more). The company didn’t just slap Android Wear onto a smartwatch, decide “what is the lowest common denominator for customers?,” and craft a smartwatch. Casio did not just say, “well, average customers want to track running, walking, distance, calories, and sleep; that’s enough, let’s put that in there and call it a day.” The company deliberated about the desires of its customer base, what preferences its consumers have, and made a watch to cater to that specific experience. All Android Wear smartwatch makers should take notes from Casio’s WSD-F10.
Casio’s new Smart Outdoor Watch shows us the potential of Android Wear, what it can be when manufacturers are allowed to be creative and create their own take on Google’s wearables platform, and it’s about time Android Wear get an upgrade. Having new watch faces in the experience isn’t enough; having Android Wear and Google Play access on a smartwatch isn’t enough. What each Android Wear smartwatch needs is a unique experience that compels consumers to spend their hard-earned dollars because they can’t live without it. And until the Casio WSD-F10, that was a wish unfulfilled.
Of course, the Casio WSD-F10 will come at a price ($500 to be exact), but you’ll get a smartwatch that looks good while looking rugged and benefits you when you’re out and about (sunrise and sunset times and weather, anyone?) without forcing you to visit the Android Wear app to download something you need. Casio’s WSD-F10 makes a compelling case for why you’d want an Android Wear smartwatch in the first place. Though you’ll still need to connect to Bluetooth to access all of Casio’s best, it is the only Android Wear, Bluetooth-only smartwatch yet that I’d spend $500 on.
You can find out more about Casio’s new Smart Outdoor Watch by the company’s YouTube video and screenshots below.