The latest generation of Android Wear smartwatches are about to hit the market, with brands like Fossil and Tag Heuer now apparently boarding the platform. Some developments also suggest this could be a time to look more seriously at Android Wear’s capabilities for audiobooks – and more. But could reading on your smartwatch ever be a thing?
Remember, incidentally, that Android Wear was originally launched to pair with your smartphone over Bluetooth. However, since an update put WiFi functionality into Android Wear devices, they’ve become increasingly viable as standalone digital gear, syncing to Bluetooth headphones. That creates all kinds of opportunities for audiobook listening – some already implemented, some still pending.
Sadly, at the time of writing, Audible, the gold standard in commercial audiobook services, doesn’t seem to be implemented on Android Wear. LibriVox also has its own audiobooks app for the huge free LibriVox archive, but it’s unclear if this has special implementation for Android Wear either. At best, you may be able to control their audio feeds via the Android Wear watch, but for that you’ll need your phone – and then why bother with the watch?
Google Play Music on your Android Wear watch, however, will allow you to sync to your Android Wear offline playlist for listening anywhere, so you can upload as many audiobooks as you can handle. Unfortunately, that “as you can handle” refers to the watch’s internal memory, which on most devices is still 3GB. That may be enough for most audiobook enthusiasts, though. There’s a long guide on exactly how to do this, courtesy of Wareable, here.
The new Video for Android Wear & YouTube app offers you YouTube on your Android Wear watch. So in theory, you can now listen to the many YouTube audiobooks on your Android Wear watch – provided you have a good enough WiFi connection. Same applies to any mobile device, though, right?
The actual ereading angle comes in courtesy of the news that Asus, one of the pioneers in Android Wear, is releasing an updated version of its highly attractive ZenWatch, the ZenWatch 2 (illustrated above). This will come in two sizes, with the larger size model breaking new ground for Android Wear watches with a 1.63″ screen. And that larger screen device will have a very appealing launch price of EUR 149. Some erroneous reports on Reddit apparently peg the price at $129, but I think that’s an error based on a special discount for the original ZenWatch on the Google Play Store. So obviously, many purchasers are going to plump for the larger, cheaper device.
Some app developers are already implementing solutions to allow you to read on your Android Wear screen, and with larger form factors like the ZenWatch 2, these could get more and more common. For instance, there’s Attopedia for Android Wear, “a free, open-source application for browsing Wikipedia content in an effort to make the world’s information more accessible from smart watches.” Evernote for Android Wear could allow you to save and browse content as notes on your watch – although judging by user reviews, the functionality doesn’t seem to be there yet. There’s at least one Web Browser for Android Wear that could allow you to navigate to, and read, favorite online texts. And there’s Reader for Android Wear, designed as a “very simple viewer until some better and full featured ebook reader appears on the market.”
Above all, though, there’s Wear Reader, which “flashes text rapidly on the screen one word at a time” for you to practice your speed reading on the move. “Whether you’re on the train, bus, or subway, you’ll never again have to grab a book from your bag again. Simply upload your favorite book to your iPhone or Android device from a supported format, attach your Android wear or Apple Watch, and you’re ready to read!” declares the maker.
So there are some of the current solutions for using your Android Wear phone for audiobooks and ereading. Have your own solution? Find the whole idea appalling? Let us know.