It's been a year now since I wrote the first line of code of Wear Mini Launcher. Today, Google announced a new Android Wear version including (amongst other things) a simpler way to launch apps.
A lot of users will see this as an improvement. Objectively, it's one, but the timing is the worst I could imagine.Android Wear and it's paradigm
When the first public version of Android Wear was released a year ago, it was a revolution. Not really for the hardware aspect (there were already smart watches on the market at this time). But the paradigm was completely new.
Android Wear "Creative Vision" was really clear:Android Wear devices provide just the right information at just the right time
It's that simple and that's why the app list was buried at the bottom of a long list of (less relevant) items. They were not meant to be launched with that kind of interaction (not to say they weren't meant to be launched at all, except in some rare cases). Android Wear commercial debuts
Every revolution leaves some user behind and it has been the case for Android Wear. This simple paradigm had a negative effect on the way people saw the platform. I can't remember how many times I read people saying "I won't buy a smartwatch until it does something more than my phone. These devices are useless". These people didn't see the benefit of getting another device as it will do less
things than the one they had in their pocket. I strongly think that restraining the app access deeply strengthened this feeling and had a negative effect on the selling and on the usefulness perception the people had.
There was a need for a launcher at this time at least to allow people to understand that it was not really the point of the platform, but Google chose not to lead people and left them aside.A new challenger appears
Almost a year later, Apple decided to launch its own device. I won't speak a lot about it, it's not the point, but the main difference is that Apple built an app-centric platform. They sold 1M units the first day, more than a year of Android Wear device selling.
Today's Android Wear update is, for me, the worst reaction Google could have. They added some of the gadget features Apple Watch add (draw and send) and, that's what shocks me the more, partly renounce to their paradigm.
Now that most of the people got used to this (or found alternatives), they changed it back. That's the worst signal to launch as it will be considered as a failure against their concurrent.
Just after Wear Mini Launcher gained some popularity, +Adam Powell
wrote: Lamenting the lack of a quick-access menu of apps to launch on Android Wear is a bit like lamenting the lack of a manual transmission on a Model S.
He was right except for two things.
* You cannot expect people to get used to a automatic transmission without teaching them why it's better, how to use it and give them time to get used to it.
* You cannot come back a year after and tell them that finally the manual transmission was not that bad.