Technology

Wear OS will work better for lefties…eventually

Good news for Wear OS southpaws: Google is adding 180-degree screen rotation on Wear OS watches. However, there is a catch – you may have to upgrade to get the feature.

The story was initially spotted on Reddit by the journalist Mishaal Rahman and picked it up Android Central. In a Google IssueTracker thread requesting a customizable screen orientation, one of the developers wrote, “Our development team has implemented the feature you requested and will be available on new devices in the future.” This led to mixed reactions. On the one hand, the feature is there. On the other hand, it means that the feature may not make its way to all Wear OS smartwatches.

If that’s the case, it’s understandable why Wear OS users like it. It is customary to wear your watch with your non-dominant hand – meaning your right wrist for left-handed and the left wrist of right-handed people. However, as with most things, smartwatches cater to right-handed users. Southerners who prefer to wear watches on their right wrist should extend their hand up and around to use the crown. But unlike analog watch makers who needed to do their best to produce left-handed watches, the easy solution for smartwatches is just to flip the screen. The feature’s initial demand on Wear OS was made nearly four years ago in April 2018. That’s a long wait, and asking users to upgrade to get basic features is always going to annoy some customers. To make matters worse, Apple has been letting Apple Watch users customize the screen orientation for years. At the moment, the only option for Wear OS users is workarounds like the Lefty app.

However, that is the word of one of the developers. Until Google releases an official statement stating otherwise, this will likely eventually make its way to the current hours. After all, Wear OS 3 won’t arrive for most eligible watches until the latter half of this year. Google has also repeatedly stated that during this difficult transition period, it is committed to bringing new features to Wear OS 2. YouTube Music is a good example of a feature that was launched with Wear OS 3 but later brought to Wear OS 2 despite initial reports.

said a Google spokesperson, Ivy Hunt the edge. “In terms of the details of this feature, we do not comment on future roadmaps.”

Choosing which wrist to wear your smartwatch is actually rather important. It not only affects which side the crown or buttons are on, but it may also affect the accuracy of the fitness tracking algorithms. Most smartwatches have different algorithms for your dominant hand versus your non-dominant hand. It may also make the use of certain features, such as an electrocardiogram, inconvenient or completely unusable. For example, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 introduced a new body composition feature that requires you to place your fingers on the watch buttons. As you can see from this image, using the feature is silly if you choose to wear the smartwatch on your right wrist — and since the Galaxy Watch 4 runs Wear OS 3, there’s no way to change the screen orientation at the moment.

Even with the uncertain schedule, it’s a good thing that Google added this essential access feature. You should be able to wear your smartwatch on any wrist you want, and accommodating lefties or people with limb differences benefits everyone. As a wearables reviewer, I wear a smartwatch on both wrists at all times. I can assure you that your experience with the same device can vary greatly depending on which wrist you are wearing. For example, when I tested the Fitbit Sense on my right wrist, I constantly adjusted the capacitive button and ended up logging a lot of unintended workouts. All of these problems disappeared when I switched the device to my left wrist, but it wasn’t a problem if I could flip it. Honestly, All Makers of smartwatches and fitness trackers should be more thoughtful about this in the future. It’s a shame that most of them didn’t actually do that.

Update, 01/12/2022, 4:05 pm: Statement added by Google.

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