Skip to main content

Lack of app functionality drops the Galaxy Watch 4's game from Eagle to par

Apps can be better than ever on the Galaxy Watch 4, but it doesn't matter if developers don't bring their A-game.

I've had my Galaxy Watch 4 for a month now, and while I've never been more sure I made the right call buying this watch, with my own money, I've had some trepidations about recommending it to family members. Battery life and charging speeds lag behind the competition, and some of my coworkers returned theirs after experiencing overheating issues.

My nitpicky approach to buying anything tech-related comes from my father, who is even more choosy about his phones, laptops, and accessories than I am. He's been asking about the Galaxy Watch 4 since its announcement in August, but I didn't want to tell him to buy a $250 watch if it wouldn't do the one thing he wants in a smartwatch: work with his golfing app. Now, he's tested my Galaxy Watch 4 while golfing and palling around Walt Disney World with me, and while the watch performed quite well, his app still lacks some important functionalities.

GolfPad is one of several golfing apps that provide GPS shot-tracking, helps suggest clubs and yardage, and thanks to the tags he has attached to his clubs, it can automatically track which club he uses as the clubs talk to his phone during a game. GolfPad already had a Wear OS app — and a Tizen app with more functionality — before the Wear OS 3 announcement, but it was a lackluster experience with lots of lagging and difficulty navigating.

When GolfPad was mentioned by name at Google I/O as one of the apps Google was working with to improve the Wear OS experience, I held out hope that this would finally bring the smartwatch experience my dad wanted. Surely with Google helping GolfPad's developers to guide a watch app with wider functionality and smoother performance.

Well, my dad found the GolfPad app on the Galaxy Watch 4 to be smoother and more consistent than ever. Unfortunately, the functionality is still lacking.

I'm going to preface this by saying that my dad has been using GolfPad for well over a year, and he's often had issues with the app when it comes to app pinning and exiting app pinning when he needs to access another app. With previous watches, GolfPad had to be pinned and open on the phone the whole game. On the Galaxy Watch 4, that's not the case. He could start the round, look at the app when he needed more information, then swap to the watch for adding shots and putts as he went through each round.

However, the GolfPad Wear OS app can only keep score right now. It can't track golf clubs, so if you add shots on the watch, you have to go back and add which club you used while you're walking between holes or waiting for the group ahead to clear the fairway. This means you'll still be pulling out your phone at least once every hole, in fact, probably more than once.

A lack of a map turns GolfPad's watch app into an afterthought.

There's no way to view a course on the watch, nor can you figure out how far you need to hit safely away from hazards or where the course turns. And because you can't see a map or tap it for ideal shot distances, that's one to three more times you'll need to pull out the phone per hole. Given that there are four tiles worth of options to the right of the main screen for each hole, it's odd that you can't get even a basic map of the hole on one of them.

The lack of map also makes the "Position Flag" option on the watch completely useless, as it drops the flag where you're standing rather than down the hole where you're trying to hit.

After playing two rounds with the app installed, my dad definitely felt the missing features here. GolfPad says that club tracking is coming soon, eliminating the current need to add the clubs afterward, along with a standalone mode.

What GolfPad really needs to add — and has not announced plans to add — is a way to see distances to hazards and where you can reasonably hit the ball. Seeing that the green is 300 or 400 yards on a Par 5 with a water hazard isn't helpful at all unless you're on a straight hole with no large hazards. You shouldn't have to pull out the phone for the first three shots, then maybe use the watch once you're within range of the green.

Speaking of unhelpful, the GolfPad Tile that you can add to the right of your watch face is just about useless. It just shows the course you're currently on and your overall score. If you're not actively playing a round, it doesn't display much of anything. You can't even start a round from it because rounds have to be started on the phone barring a standalone mode that isn't available yet.

This lack of real functionality is one thing I've seen in far too many apps on Wear OS. Accuweather has no way to swap between locations or see any detailed conditions. Google Keep is great once you get your note or shopping list open, but the constantly refreshing notes list makes it hard to tap the one you want. There's also no way to send a note from Google Keep's Android app to open on Wear OS: You have to find it in the compact list every time.

Even productivity and media apps are ridiculously limited in Wear OS 3. The current lack of Google Assistant on the Galaxy Watch 4 means that even if your watch app has commands that you can use to access a feature more quickly, they're not available right now. It's a shame as apps run better on my Galaxy Watch 4 than they have on any smartwatch I've ever used.

Samsung has earned the Watch 4 spot as the best Android smartwatch, but no matter how well the hardware keeps up, without the apps and experiences to add value and usefulness, it still won't win over people like my dad without a personal test drive or a compelling reason to upgrade.

My dad's much more likely to buy the Galaxy Watch 4 now that he's tried it, but the lack of functionality in GolfPad and other apps means he has to bank more on future features than current ones. Well, that and the fact that the Fitbit Charge 5 is over 2/3 the Galaxy Watch's price and doesn't have GolfPad support at all or a consistent touchscreen UI. However, I might recommend a screen protector if he's going to wear it doing yard work.

Polished performance

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4

From $250 at Best Buy (Galaxy Watch 4) From $250 at Amazon (Galaxy Watch 4)

The only Android smartwatch you should buy in 2021.

Combining Samsung's hardware prowess and software polish to the wide app selection and compatibility of Wear OS has given us the first Wear OS 3 watch: the Galaxy Watch 4. While we're still waiting on many apps to be upgraded or overhauled for the new system, the fitness tracking is excellent, and Samsung's watch faces are diverse and delightful.



Source: androidcentral

Popular posts from this blog

How to watch season 18 of Grey’s Anatomy online from anywhere

After last season was cut short, Grey's Anatomy is returning to ABC with brand new episodes and we have all the details on how you can watch the longest running medical drama yet on TV or online. Just as ABC did with season 17 last year, the season 18 premiere of the show will actually be a two-hour crossover event with Grey's Anatomy spin-off series Station 19. While Grey's Anatomy tells the story of Meredith Grey, played by Ellen Pompeo, and the other doctors, nurses and residents at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, Station 19 follows a group of firefighters from the Seattle Fire Department. Based on the trailer for the two show's latest crossover event, after a Station 19 fire truck is hijacked, a patient needs to be brought on foot to Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital for treatment. Last season of Grey's Anatomy saw Dr. Meredith Gray infected Covid-19 and while in a coma, many characters from past seasons of the show returned to visit her on a beach. Although Mere

PS5 restocks: Here are the latest PS5 stock updates & how to find one

PS5 stock is selling out fast, so be sure to have your credit card ready. Looking to buy a PS5 ? Well, so are millions of other people, and the stock levels we've seen so far are tight, even nearly a year after its launch. Every time a retailer puts stock up for sale, it sells out super quickly. The longest we've seen them stay in stock is maybe 15 to 20 minutes (usually just a few minutes, though), and that's at random times, so finding one for yourself can be a truly difficult task. Sony warned that it will be hard to find stock throughout the year and well into 2022, but retailers are promising more are coming, and Sony has secured additional semiconductor chips to make them. In our PS5 review, we called it a technical marvel with a groundbreaking controller. After spending a few months with it now, it's nearly impossible to go back to the PS4. Everything about the PS5 is better , from the games to the DualSense haptic feedback . You'll definitely want to

How to watch the London Marathon: Live stream online

While it may have once again been postponed from its usual April slot, the delayed 2021 edition of the London Marathon should have a more familiar feel to proceedings this year - read on to find out how to watch this iconic race online, no matter where in the world you are. This year's event welcomes back ametuar and fun runners after last year's race was limited to elite runners, while a limited number of spectators are set to be in attendance along the 26.2-mile route through the UK capital. 2020 winner Shura Kitata returns to defend his title despite a hamstring injury against a field that boasts seven sub-2:04 marathon runners including fellow Ethiopian stars Birhanu Legese and Mosinet Geremew. Kenyan superstar and Olympic silver medalist Brigid Kosge will also be hitting London's streets once more as she looks to replicate her incredible victory in the women's race last year against a strong field of runners that also includes Ethiopia's Roza Dereje, and

Google Pixel 6 price just leaked — and it's lower than we expected

The standard Pixel 6 may only be slightly more expensive than the Pixel 5. What you need to know A new leak suggests the standard Pixel 6 will start at €649 in Europe. The Pixel 6 Pro could be priced at €899 in the old continent. It also claims that the Pixel 6 series will be announced on October 19. Last week, Brandon Lee from This is Tech Today gave us our first real-world look at Google's upcoming Pixel 6 Pro. Lee has now revealed a few more details about the upcoming Pixel 6 series phones in a new YouTube video. According to Brandon Lee's sources, the Google Pixel 6 is going to retail for €649 in Europe, while the bigger Pixel 6 Pro will be priced at €899. While it looks like the Pixel 6 Pro will be nearly as expensive as the best Android phones from Samsung, the standard Pixel 6 may only be €20 more expensive than last year's Pixel 5 . The Pixel 6's black colorway will apparently be called "carbon," while the green option could be marke