WIMM One Watch App Store Hands-On: Install Software On Your Wrist

WIMM One Micro App Store

We’ve been using the WIMM One Android watch as an everyday time piece for several months now, but this week, with the company’s OTA update to firmware version 1.03, the device finally has its own app store. Our watch quietly received the upgrade without so much as an alert to let us know it had happened on Wednesday and we’ve been playing with the small UI improvements and the third party apps ever since. 

Micro App Store Beta

Prior to this week’s update, users were able to sideload apps, which WIMM calls micro apps, by downloading their APK installs from the WIMM One developer forums and then copying those files over to the watch via USB connection. However, with the beta launch of the Micro App Store, users can now see a comprehensive list of available micro apps and install the ones they want right over Wi-Fi. 

Micro App Store

To access the Micro App Store, users simply log in to wimm.com and click on the Micro App Store Beta link in the left nav. The current app store homepage loads containing a complete list of all the micro apps — 25 as of this writing — sorted into categories such as gaming, productivity and travel. For each app, there’s a thumbnail which matches its shortcut icon and a gray “Add” button next to it that’s clickable only if the app has not already been installed on your device.

Micro App Store Hover

If you hover over the thumbnail for a given app, a small description of it will appear. If you want to install one of the apps, you can click the Add button next to it and then wait until the next time your watch syncs with WIMM’s servers. You can set your watches to sync as frequently as once per hour or as infrequently as once a day, but you can also manually force an immediate sync by tapping the sync button in the settings menu on the device itself.

Manual Sync

At present, all of the Micro Apps are available for free, but in the future, the Micro App Store will likely also be able to accept payments. If you want to remove an app from your device you can go to the Micro Apps control panel page on wimm.com which shows a list of all the apps on your device and lets you reorder their shortcuts or get rid of them by toggling the “visible” checkbox. After unchecking the visible box next to an app, that app’s shortcut will disappear from your watch at the next sync, though we’re not sure whether that means it is truly erased or just hidden.

Micro Apps Menu

To test out the app store, we installed a few of the available apps, including TwitUpdate, News Reader, Searchlight, and aFlashlight.

TwitUpdate

One of our favorite micro apps, TwitUpdate allows you to follow up to five users and / or search strings on twitter. The app shows five different screens, one for each Twitter feed.

TwitUpdate

You configure the feed by tapping on the blue title bar at the top of the screen and then entering either a user to follow, text to search for, or both. If you enter only the username, you see the latest three updates from that user on that screen. If you enter only a search string such as “laptops” or “#ces2012″ that screen shows the latest three tweets from all of Twitter that contain that text. Of course, if you enter both “@laptopmag” and “smartphone” you can see the latest three tweets from the @laptopmag twitter account that contain the word “smartphone.”

Twitter Update

Useful as it is, TwitUpdate has its share of limitations. First, you must use WIMM’s slow-moving on-screen keyboard, which makes you swipe through the whole alphabet to select each letter, to change TwitUpdate’s query stings. Second, it is limited to only the latest three tweets per screen and only five screens in total. Finally, there’s no way to view pictures or click on links that appear in the tweets. Still, it’s great to be able to see a friend’s latest tweets at a glance and we hope to see the functionality expand on this app as it evolves.

News Reader

News Reader sets the gold standard for what is possible on a WIMM One watch. Using a Google Reader account, you can set the app to receive RSS news updates from all your favorite sites. If you’re too lazy to set up a Google Reader account, the app has built-in feeds from leading tech news sites like Engadget, Tech Crunch and Boy Genius Report.

Newsreader Feed

Within the app, each screen contains a list of the latest headlines from a different news source. You can scroll side to side between screens to switch news sources or tap on an individual headline to read that article. The articles even have lead images that appear in full color. We used an earlier version of this app before the app store launched, but the latest version has improved formatting within the articles (paragraph breaks work now) and seems smoother than before.

Newsreader Article

aFlashlight

As its name suggests, aFlashlight lights up the screen so you can use the watch to light your way in a dark room. The only neat feature here is that you can select the color of the light using a color wheel so, if you want a pink flashlight, you’ve got one.

aFlashlight's Color PaletteSearchlight

Inferior to aFlashlight, Searchlight just shows a white circle on the screen to emulate a flashlight.

UI Improvements and Responsiveness

Long-time WIMM users will notice a small, but important change to the application menu which appears when you slide upward on the watch’s face. Where the old menu had an image of a large neverending cube behind the shortcut icons, the new menu has a simple but tasteful royal blue wallpaper and what appear to be larger shortcut icons.  

Shortcut Icon

With the update, the screen also appears to have become a bit more responsive, sometimes seemingly too responsive. When shooting a video demo of the new UI and apps, we found ourselves accidentally pulling down the watch face when we were trying to rotate through shortcuts. However, when we put the watch on our wrist — rather than holding it in it in our hands — and were careful not to swipe upward — we had no trouble moving side to side in the apps menu or between screens within apps.

As you scroll between the icons, you’ll notice a small white bar at the top of the screen which shows you where you are in the row of apps. If you’re on the first shortcut, the white bar is all the way on the left and it moves further left or right as you swipe through the apps. If you want to swipe through apps more quickly, you can press and hold on left or right side of the blue wallpaper and the system will quickly scroll through the apps until you lift your finger.

WIMM says another key feature of the version 1.03 firmware update is improved Bluetooth power efficiency. We haven’t had a chance to test this feature out yet, but we’re hopeful that battery life with Bluetooth enabled will improve as our watch was dead after just 8 or 9 hours when we tethered it to our phone in the past.

AUTHOR BIO
Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of Laptopmag.com since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
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  1. Andrew Says:

    Is it just me or do most of these apps seem extremely limited in their functionality?

  2. Billy Bush Says:

    I have the WIMM and use it with bluetooth everyday. The update has DRASTICALLY improved the battery life with bluetooth on. I used to be dead by 7pm. Now I go till 11pm with quarter battery left! It is great!

  3. PAUDIO GEAR Says:

    Ive had this watch for just a short time and love it and only take it off to charge. I agree that it’s functionality is rather limited at this time but its potential is huge because this is a stand alone unit and does not need to be tethered to a phone in order to work. The apps are overall very good especially considering this product is really still in beta. It can only get better from here. At this time my only wish is that the apps (weather, news, etc) could somehow be updated via Bluetooth when wifi is not available. I’m not even sure it’s possible but would be nice. One nice app is the remoter and remoter central & media keys apps on your phone. You can control music which is very cool. So once everything is installed I just connect my phone to some speakers from PAUDIOGEAR.COM and use my watch to control the music from across the room, very cool.
    So in conclusion I love this watch and can’t imagine what it will be able to do next.

  4. Mr. Smith Says:

    The next time this guys does a product review, can you ask him to get the fecal matter out from under his finger nails?

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