CALLING DICK TRACY

Android smart watchWhat are smart watches good for? Not much. The dirty little secret of smart watches is that you have to have a smart phone in your pocket or bag or they don’t do much. Sales, as you might expect, have been less than torrid. For the forthcoming Apple Watch, next year, for example, you’ll have to have an iPhone too.

Smart watches are best for answering phone calls, getting the weather report, news and music. You ask the watch, the watch asks the phone, the phone asks the worldwide web and bingo!, something comes in. Those who are not in love with the latest and greatest would probably suggest using the smartphone in the first place.

With some watches, like the Samsung “Gear Live,” Motorola “Moto 360” and LG “G Watch –” you can talk into your wrist and command some music from iHeart Radio, a free service with over 50 million subscribers. This saves you the trouble of getting your phone out of your pocket or bag. We like iHeart Radio; it has comedy, news and a wide range of music. Their classical selections lack the associated information you get from a service like Spotify, but we can do without that. We sometimes listen to iHeart on our computer while we’re in the office. No ads.

Go to Android.com/wear for general info. On your phone, go to g.co/WearCheck to see if it’s compatible with the latest Android smart watches. It told us we needed an Android operating system of 4.3 or higher, which we don’t have on our Samsung Galaxy S3. That prevents us from using the G Watch, or the Moto 360. However, the Samsung Gear 2 Neo is compatible, as is the “Pebble,” and a few others.

The Gear 2 Neo is getting mainly positive reviews, although we were alarmed by some of the negative comments. The watch is constantly connected by Bluetooth to the phone in your pocket, a major drain on your phone’s battery. In that situation we would use an app like Battery Doctor, which minimizes all other apps. Some have complained they had trouble getting the Neo watch to connect with their phones. This is still early days, and Dick Tracy is on the case.

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