I’m always fascinated by intelligent watches that can interact with your phones. I feel that Dick Tracy’s watch is damn geeky cool. Which is why the Sony Ericsson LiveView caught my attention when it was announced several months ago .
The LiveView is a watch that works wirelessly with an Android phone via Bluetooth. It doesn’t need to be a Sony Ericsson Android phone. As long as it is running Android 2.0 and above. And luckily for Sony Ericsson, the Xperia X10, X10 mini, X10 mini pro and X8 have all been upgraded to Android 2.1 recently. Setting up the LiveView is pretty easy. Just go to Android Marketplace to download an App call LiveView application by Sony Ericsson. Once installed, pair your Android phone with LiveView like you normally do for Bluetooth devices and your LiveView is ready to use. The time on the LiveView is synchronized with your phone. If the LiveView lost connection with the phone, it can still function as a normal watch.
Navigation on LiveView is fairly straight forward. The LiveView is not a touchscreen watch. But there’s 4 sensor area on the bezel. Tap on the left or right side to navigate thru menu, press the top right button to select a menu item and tap top or bottom to scroll up or down.
The Sony Ericsson LiveView allows users to see incoming caller id and missed call number. If the number is in your address book, LiveView will display the name of the person calling. Pretty straight forward. You can also read SMS using LiveView.
There is also Facebook and Twitter integration. For Facebook, you can choose to receive notifications, inbox messages and news feed on your LiveView. The Facebook integration is pretty alright except for 1 thing. The minimum update frequency is 15 minutes. That’s too long. I know it’s hard to make the update instantaneously. But at least update every 5 minutes or less. And sadly, the Twitter integration is pretty badly done. You can’t select the type of message to receive on your LiveView. You can only view your timeline. Your mentions and DM will most likely be lost in the timeline if you follow a lot of people on Twitter. And like Facebook, the minimum update frequency is 15 minutes.
But thankfully, the Sony Ericsson LiveView allows 3rd party developers to write plugins. So all we need to do now is wait for someone to write a better Twitter plugin for LiveView. In fact, there is already a Twitter plugin in the Android Marketplace. But it’s kinda buggy and not so well written. Let’s hope the developer update the plugin soon. Besides the Twitter plugin, there are other plugins like Gmail plugins, Remote Camera, Dialer etc etc. If you ask me, I’ll say that the best thing about the Sony Ericsson LiveView is the abilities to install plugins.
For example, there’s a plugin call Viewfinder which allows user to control the phone’s camera via LiveView. A low res live video is stream to the LiveView watch so that you can see what your Android phone’s camera lens is seeing using your LiveView. I’ve no idea why I would need to use that plugin. But it’s just geeky cool. I bet Dick Tracy would love to have that too.
Sony Ericsson needs to get more developers to write awesome plugins and make it easier for LiveView owners to find and manage plugins.
The Sony Ericsson LiveView is available in the “Sony Ericsson Fitness Experience Pack” which is aimed at sports and fitness enthusiasts. I don’t know why Sony Ericsson wants to limit themselves and just target the sporting crowd. I think the LiveView is great for everyday use. In fact, I would wear it almost daily if I’m using an Android as my primary phone. The only problem here is the strap. The velcro strap is alright for jogging but it’s not suitable daily use. I know I’m not a fashion expert here, but it looks weird when you pair a velcro strap with shirts. Maybe Sony Ericsson might want to consider releasing some metal and rubber straps as optional accessories.
I think the Sony Ericsson LiveView has great potential. But there are some rough edges that needs to be fixed. Once these problems are resolved, I’m sure more developers will jump onboard and write great plugins for the Sony Ericsson LiveView.
Allows 3rd party plugins
Easy to setup
Easy to use interface
15 minute update frequency for Facebook and Twitter
Poor Twitter integration
No easy way to discover 3rd party plugins