Google Android Wear: what you need to know

Google smartwatches Moto 360 and LG G Watch R beat Apple Watch to the punch

Android Wear smartwatches so far

The Android Wear smartwatch selection is expanding, but you can only buy the LG, Samsung and Motorola models right now. Sony and Asus watches are coming soon, and LG has another up its sleeve.

The Moto 360 was front-and-center in the smartwatch announcement, even though Google has offloaded Motorola to Lenovo. There's good reason for highlighting this time piece: it's ambitious.

Moto 360
Motorola totally disses square smartwatches...

As the name suggests, Moto 360 has a beautiful circular face that contrasts with other watches we've seen like the square Pebble Steel and boxy, but wrist-conforming Samsung Gear Fit.

This beautiful watch face has a 1.56-inch LCD display that boasts a 320 x 290 resolution and 205 pixels per inch. It's protected by Gorilla Glass 3 and costs $250 (£200, likely AU$275)

It's not the rumored OLED screen and the circular watch face doesn't sit behind sapphire glass, which is the Apple Watch. But it certainly costs less than the so-called iWatch.

Moto 360
Classy watch, classy Qi wireless charger

Sticking with that authentic watch styling, there are no charging contacts or USB ports. Motorola went with an inductive wireless charger, giving us a wire-free reason to own that Qi-compatible Nexus charger sold in the Google Play Store.

It doesn't feature a privacy-invasive camera like the Galaxy Gear and Gear 2 either. This just didn't fit into the classic design, according to Motorola. Also, unlike Samsung's non-Android Wear watches, it supports more phones than its own Moto X.

Moto 360 is compatible with Android 4.3, Android 4.4 and Android L phones and tablets that use low-powered Bluetooth 4.0 for battery life conservation.

Left off the compatibility list is Apple. That means even if you own a brand new iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, it won't work with this Android-only device.

Moto 360 features
Sorry, iPhone owners. This stylish smartwatch isn't for you

Moto 360 blends familiar Android menus like Google Now and Hangouts messages with a sophisticated-looking digital watchface, and Motorola touts just-as-premium strap materials that remain comfortable.

The company promises a variety of styles beyond the default leather straps, including metal bands and new leather colors. In the meantime, we've taken the toolkit to the watch and added our own 22mm strap.

LG G Watch R is even rounder

One-upping Motorola's smartwatch is the LG G Watch R that's due out this fall. It boasts what LG loves to refer to as the first full-circle watch powered by Android Wear.

It's true. Moto 360's display doesn't form a complete circle. It has a blank spot at the bottom. This chin or horizon line houses its screen components instead of needing a blank circular bezel for the task.

Moto 360 features
The LG G Watch R is rounder, without a missing bottom portion of the circle

Moto 360 isn't ideal for analog watch faces, and LG think it has a solution. LG G Watch R uses a circular bezel on its smaller 1.3-inch Plastic OLED screen, but covers it up with second-hand tick marks.

Some people think this looks more like a real watch, while others call it a diver's watch and don't want to wait until it until the Autumn release date or pay its likely expensive price (so far £220 in the UK).

Sony Smartwatch 3, Asus ZenWatch coming soon

The newest smartwatches were announced at IFA 2014 care of Sony and Asus. They couldn't be more different.

Sony said it purposely stuck with a square-shaped display on its Sony Smartwatch 3 because it's better. It also stores music in its 4GB of internal storage and adds a GPS chip to its specs - firsts for Android Wear.

Android Wear with GPS
Android Wear with GPS is a reality thanks to Sony

Fixing a major complain of ours regarding proprietary chargers, Sony opted to include a micro USB port for charging. Brilliant. It also promises a longer battery life, but that remains to be tested.

Asus went a different route with the Asus ZenWatch. It's boxy, but still stylish with a stitched leather strap and 2.5D curved glass.

Asus ZenWatch with Android Wear
Asus ZenWatch. A gently curved smartwatch.

Even though manufacturers can't fundamentally change Android Wear, a nifty Asus ZenUI Wellness app makes use of the watch's nine-axis sensor and makes good on Asus' promise to make a health gadget.

The Sony Smartwatch 3 will go on sale in October for $250 (£190, likely AU$275), while Asus ZenWatch is soon to be available for pre-order but no officially confirmed price is known.

LG G Watch
The LG G Watch comes in colors matching the LG G3

Samsung Gear Live and LG G Watch

Samsung and LG had the first Android Wear watches on sale with the Samsung Gear Live and LG G Watch debuting for early adopters.

LG G Watch is a little more awkwardly titled, as if it's a typo with too many Gs. Just as awkward is the fact that the Moto 360 dissed square-faced smartwatches in its unveil.

That happens to be the exact design of the LG G Watch. And, curiously, it's is opposite of the LG G3 that seems to be all about its new quick circle case.

LG doesn't seem to be offended, though. The company thinks it's hip to be square with a buttonless design that highlights the boxy watch face even more.

With a 1.65-inch LDC IPS display, the G Watch is bigger than the Samsung Gear Live's 1.63-inch display, but has a tad fewer pixels with a 128 x 128 resolution instead of the 320 x 320 resolution.

Importantly, the LG G Watch lasts longer than the Gear Live thanks to a larger 400mAh battery. It lasts a day and a half whereas Samsung's watch typically stops ticking just shy of 24 hours.

Battery life is key for a wearable device that has to be worn all day long.

LG G Watch
Sadly contains a proprietary charger

The Android 4.3-compatible LG G Watch is roughly the same size as the Samsung Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo and water and dust resistant.

Also, like the Pebble Steel, it follows the trend of supporting swappable bands for a more personalized look and feel.

The LG G Watch costs $229 in the US and £159 in the UK. It's more expensive than the Gear Live in the US at $199, but cheaper than Samsung's UK price at £159. It really depends on where you live.

As we predicted, there was no rumored 3G-cabale LG G Watch unveiled. Expect that to be added further down the line in smartwatches and possibly available in South Korea before anywhere else.

Where Android Wear stands

Android Wear shows more promise on day one than Google Glass has in its year and a half of availability because it's not a stretch to imagine donning Moto 360, LG G Watch or Samsung Gear Live.

Since only three watches have released, there are still plenty of questions left to be answered about its future, especially its battery life going forward.

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Then there's the question of iOS compatibility. Would Android-powered watches ever be able to connect to an iOS 8 device? Google has made plenty of its gadgets, app and services work with Apple's iPhone and iPad hardware. Why not?

We're looking forward to seeing how natural the "Okay Google" voice commands progress and if Google-owned Nest creates an Android Wear project of its own.