When Will Android Wear have the Same Features as Apple Watch (Drill Mode, Pace Mode)?

Android Wear has a major hardware disadvantage when it comes to swimming: Android Wear doesn’t give any hardware button access to application developers. The hardware buttons on Android Wear are reserved for operating system functions only.

The Swim.com app on the Apple Watch utilizes the Digital Crown to enter and exit Drill Mode and Pace mode. On Android Wear, the only thing we can access as application developers is the touchscreen. This is an issue because the water easily simulates false touches to the touch screen (see “Do I have to lock the screen before I swim with my Apple Watch?”) and would enter you into Drill Mode or Pace Mode accidentally.

Furthermore, the Swim.com app on Android Wear before version 2.0 used Theater Mode to not only lock the screen and prevent inputs that would accidentally end the workout, but also to maintain the flow of accelerometer data to the app. While initially developing our app, testing determined that false inputs created by the water touching the screen actually interrupted the accelerometer data that Swim.com uses to recognize swimming, resulting in the algorithms failing.   For these reasons, we require users with Android Wear 1.X versions to enter Theater Mode by double-pressing the hardware button on their watch before the swimming algorithms start.

In Android Wear 2.0, Google has removed the ability for users to enter Theater Mode using the hardware button, meaning they need to be out of the Swim.com app to use it and can’t use the Swim.com app while in Theater Mode, nor Theater Mode while in the Swim.com app. More testing is still needed to determine whether Google has addressed the issues with water interacting with the screen disrupting the accelerometer data, though we have just recently gotten access to devices running Android Wear 2.0 so there’s still of work to be done.

As an addendum, Google’s Android Wear team has been infamously difficult to pin down, much tougher than Apple and certainly tougher than Pebble. We’ve made contact on several occasions but they seem to drop off the map quite quickly. If you’re out there Android Wear product team, please get in touch!

Short Answer: We need to have access to a hardware button to enter and exit Drill Mode and Pace Mode and Android Wear doesn’t currently offer that.

This question brought to you by you, the users in our FAQ series.  Have a question about the Swim.com app?  Ask us in the comments below or email it to support@swim.com

9 thoughts on “When Will Android Wear have the Same Features as Apple Watch (Drill Mode, Pace Mode)?

  1. I refer to a comparison chart posted on the Swim Outlet web site showing the SWIM.COM features on the Apple Watch. Features such as showing metrics such as Stroke Rate and Pace, Interval AND Workout averages which someone in a reply to me months ago, indicated that these features are already THERE.

    Yet I continue to see only a limited function, say compared to Swimsense watches, actually delivered by the Swim.Com app. Further, to be most useful, these metrics need to be shown on the watch face between intervals, not just in the data output, at least that is the Requirement.

    While I can believe that the Development team is working on it, I’m disappointed that the company can’t be more truthful in its marketing.

    1. Hi Michael-
      The Swim.com app for Apple and Android watches do have stroke rate, pace, interval, and workout averages. They appear in the workout analysis after you upload the workout. The idea behind the app is to just to focus on swimming and not have to worry about lap count or other metrics. Between intervals on the Apple Watch while you are resting at the wall, you can see the following stats for your previous interval swam: total distance, total time, pace per 100y or 100m (depending on your course setting) and average strokes per length. When you are on the resting screen, just swipe from right to left and these metrics will appear. This is also true for the Android watch. Swipe from right to left twice and you will see your last interval’s total time, distance, SWOLF score, and strokes per length average (there is no pace on this screen). Keep swiping one more time and you can see your total workout stats. Let us know if you need more help locating that information.

      1. Julie, that you for your concerned reply. I was afraid that the metrics I want are not available on the watch. I would hope that your people would rethink the requirement about ‘having to …focus just on the swimming’. To me, FOCUS is on exactly keeping stroke rate and pace in coordination with the ‘feel’ of swimming that interval. That ‘feel’ is exactly how a swimmer can best remember as it relates to the metrics. Of course it’s necessary to see those metrics again, later on that day, but it’s really crucial to get that input right after the interval. And opposed to the new Swimsense Live, the iWatch has the real estate to show all those metrics on one or two screens.

  2. Julie, I have a second reply:

    I’ve never met you and don’t know whether you are a member of the development team or how you are affiliated with the swim.com software. If you are, I would certainly like to know where in the future plan does the requirement get implemented? (for on the watch (face) metrics such as pace, s/r, etc. for intervals).

    If it’s not in the plan, then I need to buy myself a FINIS watch when my current Swimsense watch finally dies….and take myself out of this misery. Based on the Swim.com chart I spoke about previously, I bought the iWatch, thinking that the Swim.com team would implement it the same way FINIS did. In my mind, the requirement is quite clear. It seems such a waste of real estate to not implement that on the iWatch. I certainly wouldn’t have minded even paying a software fee for it.

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