Android Wear Smartwatches Are Getting Serious

Android Wear Smartwatches Are Getting Serious
Images: Supplied

Just after Apple got serious about fitness with the Apple Watch Series 2 and Samsung went rugged with the Gear S3, the Android equivalent is getting some much-needed love in the form of two new smartwatches — the Polar M600 for fitness junkies, and Nixon’s fashionable but supremely functional Mission will handle a 100-metre dive underwater.

Android Wear is one of Google’s best-kept secrets, in my opinion — it’s one of the few software services out of the company’s Mountain View headquarters that has a single homogeneous interface across every device that uses it, with regular updates adding functionality without becoming overly complicated. I wore a Huawei Watch for 18 months and never felt like it let me down, in anything from activity tracking to notifications to real-time apps like Google Maps. And that’s why it’s nice to see Android Wear being adopted in these two serious smartwatches.

The Polar M600 is a waterproof sports watch from the world leader in heart rate sensors and activity trackers, and has probably the most accurate and comprehensive heart-rate tracking of any Android Wear watch with a six-LED setup. As well as that, it has integrated GPS for smartphone-free workout tracking, always-on step and fitness monitoring and a Polar-designed Smart Coaching app to get you ready for your 5K, 10K or half-marathon run.

Waterproofing comes despite a hardware button — not a mandatory inclusion on Android Wear watches — for quickly starting an activity, and Polar says the M600 will last for 48 hours of wear between charges with that 1.3-inch square display lighting up when you raise it to view notifications or check the time. Polar’s Android Wear-able is already out and costs $499 for either a black or white band, with interchangeable red bands later in the year.

The Nixon Mission, on the other hand, is more obviously a watch first and foremost, and to that end the company ships it with a number of its most popular analog and digital watchfaces pre-loaded. Built on a Qualcomm system-on-chip tailored to Android Wear, the Mission is capable of working at up to 10 atmospheres of pressure — or 100 metres underwater for those playing at home.

It’s also massively customisable with 12 different bezel options and 24 dual-layer silicone bands, and Aussie buyers can customise their own inscription or logo for the rear 316L stainless steel case. As well as Nixon’s fashion watchfaces, two Mission and Mission Pro faces tie in with custom Nixon apps: Mission shows live ocean and mountain conditions at a glance and can push notifications when snow or surf is up, and Mission Trace will track those sessions for you to share with friends. Nixon’s first Android Wear watch will be out October 11 and will set you back $599.