WiMM One: Android for the wrist (review)

Summary:The Personal Grid is getting closer to reality with the WiMM One, an Android watch module that connects to the web for great functionality.

I am a watch freak from way back. The more things the watch does, the better I like it. The more devices the watch can connect to all on its own, the less I can contain myself. That's why I jumped on the WIMM One Android watch. It's big, it connects to the web, it talks to my phone and it runs apps. Christmas definitely came late this year.

See also: Introducing the Personal Grid: All your gear working together

The WIMM folks sell the WIMM One as a developer kit as its purpose it to get developers writing apps for the watch. These micro-apps will be available in the WIMM app store due to open later this year, each adding distinctive functionality for the watch.

The One is actually a small module that can be plugged into various accessories such as the rubber watch strap that comes in the box. It has a small transflective color touchscreen that is fully visible outdoors, and steps down to a low-power grayscale mode after a few seconds.

The module runs a version of Android that powers the watch functionality and runs apps that can be sideloaded from a computer. This uses the same cradle that charges the module by setting it into the small tray. Magnets pull the module into correct alignment for charging, and the cradle connects to the charger or PC via microUSB cable (included).

Cradle, Module, Quarter for size

Cradle, Module, Quarter for size

The WIMM One connects to the web via Wi-Fi, and to smartphones via Bluetooth. The web connectivity lets the module sync with the WIMM One account online, Google Calendar, weather service and other information. The Bluetooth connectivity lets the WIMM One serve as a Caller ID notification for most phones, and display incoming SMS messages with Android and Blackberry phones through a companion app for those platforms.

The user interface is a carousel that is operated by touch, with all installed apps accessed by tapping the icon. The module ships with a few apps preloaded, notably Calendar, Weather, World Clock, Alarm, Timer, Stop Watch, and a Settings app for configuring the module. Other apps are already appearing on the WIMM web site, such as an app for paying for goods at Starbucks and a microMap app that is pretty cool.

The WIMM One is $299 and while it is intended for developers it is well-designed and regular consumers will find it acceptable. Worn as a watch it is comfortable although a bit bulky, about the size of those iPod Nano watches.

I had previously tested the MetaWatch which uses a different approach to do many of the same functions of the WIMM One. The MetaWatch serves as an extra display for a smartphone via Bluetooth, and I found that very useful. Having a full Android device in the WIMM One is more useful, and the ability to add functionality through micro-apps is really nice.

See also:

Topics: Mobility, Android, Browser, Google, Wi-Fi

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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