So, today is a good day to tell you about it.
But first things first:
What is "Watch Plus"?
It is a watch face app for Samsung Gear smart watches.
How does it look?
What does it do?
It shows the time. That's the main function of a watch face app.
- show the date
- shows battery level
- shows number of new notifications (called badges)*
- can show the number of steps for the day**
- can show battery usage and estimated time left
- shows network status*
- shows indicator if bluetooth is disconnected
- has a launcher for up to 5 application shortcuts***
- provides easy brightness control****
- has some features to improve visibility under direct sunlight
- has a power save mode
- has an anti-lost vibration*****
- provides tons of customization options
* Works on Gear S only, does not work on Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo
** Initially the pedometer will start counting from 0. It will reset every day showing number close (if not identical) to the built-in pedometer app.
*** Tapping an app icon will launch it, except the notifications icon does not work on Gear S (it works on Gear 2).
**** The app only controls its own brightness, not the system brightness - if you swipe away from the app, the brightness will change to the system brightness. Also, on Gear S with auto-brightness enabled you should turn this feature off.
***** Vibration only works if the watch face is the active app, if another app is active it will vibrate when you go back to the watch face.
What's the deal with this asterisks and small font bullshit?!?
These are remarks, telling you that some features only work on some devices, some features might not work as you would expect.
Your app sucks, man!
Maybe. But that's the best that can be done.
Not really. It is the best that can be done as a standalone app. That is, an app which only works on the watch. There are also apps that have a "sibling app", which works on the phone and the two can communicate. On theory, such apps could do more.
Why don't you make a "sibling" app for the phone then?
I got enough frustration developing for Samsung Gear alone. I don't want to go through all the pain of developing an android app on top of that (Samsung Gear runs Tizen, not Android). It is just not worth it.
Wait a minute ... there is a built in Samsung watch face that shows the number of notifications on Gear 2. Why doesn't your app do it?
Because it can't. There is no known way to get this information from a 3rd party app. The information is obviously there, but there is simply no way to obtain it.
Now, copy the above answer in your clipboard.
Hmm, there is also built-in watch face that shows the weather forecast. Can you?
What about pedometer?
I do show number of steps for the day, but it is not necessarily the same number as the pedometer app. Yes, the built-in Samsung watch face shows the exact same number. But I can't.
There are ways to get the number of steps since the device was last rebooted, but not since midnight.
So I do what I can - I start counting from 0 initially and then reset to 0 every midnight. Or, more precisely - the first time the screen goes on after midnight. This is because my app does not get ANY notifications while the screen is off or while another app is active. So if you make any steps between midnight and the first time my watch face shows up, these will not be accounted for and the number I show will differ from the number shown in the built-in pedometer app. Usually not by much.
So, that's why the anti-lost vibration doesn't work well if another app is active?
How good is your battery life estimation?
It depends. The first couple of hours after unplugging it is quite awful. Then it gets better and better with time. Why? Because I only get battery changed notifications when the screen is on. And I only get the battery level as an integer percentage. So, when my app "wakes up" it sees the battery changed from 99% to 98%. But it doesn't know when that happened. And whether it is 98.9% or 98.1% now. So I simply do not have enough information to do a more precise estimation.
How good is your power saving mode?
Pretty damn good! Officially, Samsung claims Gear 2 Neo lasts about 2 days with one charge. In my experience, it lasts almost 3 days if using my watch face and the power saving is OFF and a bit more than 4 days if power saving is set to 2 seconds. Here is the proof:
This "4d2h+21h" means "4 days and 2 hours since unplugged + estimated 21 hours battery life".
Yes, this is too cryptic way to display this information, I just haven't figured out a better way yet.
And yes, this is my hand :)
And, according to some of my customers, with many of the other watch faces available on the market, they often can't get even a single day without charging.
Of course, this depends on how much you use the watch. But honestly, there is not much you can do with it anyway.
Amazing! How does this power save work?
Very simple. It turns off the screen few seconds after the display has turned on if you don't touch it. The number of seconds is a setting, can be 2,3,4 or 5 seconds.
Why not have an option for 1 second? It is more than enough time to check the time and touch the screen if I want to do something else.
Because, the device is buggy. When it wakes up, there is a period of about half a second when it doesn't register any touch input. So if you want to do something with the watch, you would have to time your touch between 0.5 and 1 seconds after the display has turned on (before it turns off). I tried it, the frustration was real!
How well is your app received? What do your customers say about your app?
Out of 62 buyers' comments, 42 are 5/5 stars, 17 are 4/5, one is 2/5 and 2 are 1/5.
The one with 2/5 is in Chinese, saying "为什么下面那排app添加显示不了", which google translates as: "Why not add the following row of app display", which makes no sense to me. So I don't even know what is his fucking problem.
The two 1-stars are installation problems.
What installation problems?
Many people complained that the app would not install or update or stops working after updating.
Obviously, I have no control over installation (this is all Samsung's mess), but people naturally do not give a fuck and leave me 1-star.
So I searched the net and found out there are many (not just one) known problems with installing and updating apps on Samsung Gear. Not just my app, any app. It just happens sometimes. Too often, IMO. Sometimes restarting the watch and / or the phone solves the problem. In most cases you need to force close the "Gear Manager" app on the phone, clear its data and cache, uninstall it and install it again.
I contacted the people who had installation problems and together we managed to solve their problem. And they changed their 1-star to 4 or 5.
Except these 2, who didn't even respond. Screw them.
What are your customers suggestions and complains?
Many complain that there are no badges (number of notifications) on Gear 2. I tell them politely to RTFM. What else can I do?
Several people asked for seconds to be displayed. I have no idea why. But I will do it with the next update.
Several people asked to be able to change the color of the clock. It is a bit tricky (because some clock styles use bitmap fonts with built-in light effects), but I plan to do it for the next update.
Also, many asked that the watch face becomes visible when you lift your arm without having to touch the screen on Gear S.
Apparently, on Gear S, when you lift your arm, instead of the watch face you installed, a built-in digital watch face shows up, showing the time. You have to tap the screen to see the watch face you installed with the sole purpose to be able to see the time differently.
Fortunately, there is a work around. There is a setting (settings > display > wake up screen > last screen), which makes it so that when you lift your arm, instead of that silly built-in clock it shows the last active app. In like 90% of the cases this is the watch face. If not, you just press the home button and it goes to the watch face. Not ideal, but good enough.
Do you have any other complains about developing for the Gear?
Do you really wanna know?
Ok, see you :)