When I received a knock at my door yesterday, I was shocked to see my mail lady asking for me to sign for a package from Singapore. Could it be? Yup, the Kreyos Meteor I had backed on July 15, 2013 had finally arrived. They say that things get better with age…and as all backers of the Meteor know…we’ve been waiting ages for this watch.
First, the initial estimated delivery date was November 2013 according to their IndieGoGo page, and have always claimed it was December 2013. It wasn’t until just recently that they changed the date to December 2013. Unfortunately for them, I have an e-mail from when I originally backed the product.
Then, after passing the delivery date with no update, numerous so-called “issues” ranging from manufacturing to shipping, individuals are finally receiving the product after being delayed for the past 9 months. Having that much additional time, I had hoped the product would be a lot more polished, but am severely disappointed.
The packaging got my hopes up. It looks really sleek in it’s cellophane/plastic wrapping. The container for the Meteor is cardboard with a plastic insert. Upon opening, the watch is in the center. Most people online have been complaining that the charging cradle wasn’t included, but if you pull up the plastic insert, it’s hidden behind it.
Oh….and where’s the two free screen protectors I was promised in “Stretch Goal #2”? Because they weren’t present in the packaging.
Getting ready for use
To your left, you can see the contents of the above packages. The photo shows the device on, but when I received it, no power. And considering the package came with no USB charger (unlike, you know, every other USB-charged device out there on the market), I opted to plugging it into my cell phone to charge (using a USB On-The-Go adapter I had laying around.)
Once powered up, I went to pair it. First few times, it wasn’t recognized by the app. Also, the “K” logo the app says should display on the watch during pairing never showed up. It wasn’t until I started fiddling with buttons on the watch that it finally entered pairing mode (as indicated by the tiny text on the watch face.)
Once paired, I was like, SAWEEEEEET…time to finally use this now-outdated watch!
That’s the point my excitement about the watch dwindled. Also, to note, my tests were done with an LG Flex Android-based phone. I may test on an iPhone 4S if time permits.
Notifications (Holy Vibrator Batman!)
After I clipped the watch into the wristband, put it on, and enabled notifications in the app (we’ll talk about the app later), I then started uploading photos to Facebook, and was greeted by the watch vibrating to notify me the photo was uploading.
What I wasn’t expecting was the message to the left. Obviously, they still have some kinks to work out with the app and notifications. Other than this message displaying while uploading the photo, all other status update notifications were working.
But…last night, I went to upload a video to Facebook…and was greeted by non-stop vibrating for the entire 3 minutes the video was processing/uploading. I’m thinking this is because on Android, the Facebook app constantly updates the notification tray with the progress of an upload…something which the Kreyos development team apparently wasn’t aware of (or at least their testing team didn’t discover.) Seriously…prepare yourselves for the app review…I don’t hold back any punches.
Phone calls (Can you hear me now?)
Yesterday, when I was entertaining guests, I felt my watch vibrate. Hmmm…what’s going on now? Oooh, look a phone call! I’ll answer it! Yeah…that was mistake #1.
I was then connected to the phone call, where I could hear the very garbled audio of my friend trying to talk to me. So I say “Hey, what’s up?….hey…um…can you hear me?” The freaking mic didn’t work. So much for their “fix.” Then today, I decided to do more phone testing with it. Then the mic decided it wanted to work. Ok…buggy behavior in the firmware. Awesome.
Also, one behavior I hate is that it ALWAYS defaults to the watch for call audio, even when you answer from the phone itself. I’m sorry, but people don’t need to hear EVERY conversation I have.
Google Search + Voice (or lack thereof)
After playing with the watch for a bit to figure out what all the buttons do (since, yeah, no user manual in the package), figured out that by holding the bottom left button for a few seconds initiates voice search on Android.
Guess what folks? It works sporadically, and the times that it did trigger Google Search, the phone was still recording audio from the cell phone’s mic…not the Meteor. That makes the feature super useful! *sense the sarcasm*
Next, I decided to test music playback. Well, first, when I went into playback mode, it wouldn’t play anything (my phone kept saying the audio the Meteor had been trying to play was deleted.) I just assumed this was a fluke, because after I started Google Play and hit play, all of the sudden playback information was displayed. I was like, “WOOT! A feature that actually works!!!” I spoke too soon.
Pause, next and previous navigation only work half the time, and at times, disappear from the interface completely.
I also tried this out with Pandora, and had the same experience. Also, the song currently playing wouldn’t show up on the display. Ugh.
Buggy + missing features
Now, here’s a round-up of the other features:
It shows a reminder, but it’d be nice if you could snooze or dismiss directly from the Meteor.
Timer + Stop-watch
Both the timer and stop-watch widgets are probably the least buggy features in the product. I say “least buggy” because there’s still a few:
- When using stop-watch and navigating up/down, the screen flashes black periodically.
- When using either app, tapping the lower left button (which starts/stops it), it triggered the voice search on multiple occasions.
I was like, “oh sweet, a step counter” when I went into the Sports widget. But wait…it says I’ve walked 500 steps since this morning…and the watch has been sitting on my desk for most of the day. Turns out, the vibrator triggers the pedometer. Ugh.
As soon as I fired up the app (again…the review is coming below), I searched and searched for a way to enable the gesture controls I was promised as a backer. Yeah, not there…even though the IndieGoGo page says:
…right…it could be…if Kreyos actually implemented it in their app. Nowhere in the Android app can you set up gestures from what I can tell.
When the app is first started it asks you to register with Kreyos…which makes sense…especially when the SDK and app portals are eventually released. Then, it asks to start up bluetooth if it’s not enabled. Well, at the time I installed the app, I didn’t want to enable it since I didn’t have the watch. So I said no…but it wasn’t having any of that. The app kept asking me to turn on bluetooth like a yip-yapping Chihuahua. So finally I allowed it to turn it on. Then, it did the same thing for trying to find the watch. Only way to get it to stop was to force close the app. Needless to say, I couldn’t see what the app had until I got the phone yesterday.
So, now that I have the watch and fight to get it synced, I can actually use the app. I’ll just cut to the chase – the app is horribly written and riddled with numerous bugs. There is NO WAY this went through any form of actual QA testing.
Here’s the few things I’ve noticed thus far:
- From the looks of it, it was designed with the iPhone in mind, considering the Android back and menu buttons don’t work at all in the app (makes navigating back to where you were at impossible.)
- There’s no way to change from kilometers to miles (for those of us in the US.)
- Swiping between the left and right pages doesn’t work (which is the primary way all apps navigate nowadays)
- When firing up the app, you’re greeted with a “Test Log” notification. Obviously they were too much in a hurry to…you know…do final QA testing on the app before releasing it.
- All pages have annoying “flip” animations (the same animation Android uses to indicate it’s starting a new application.) This leads to a very annoying user experience
- To the left, you’ll see the “Settings” page. I don’t see anything there for setting up gestures.
One thing you have to keep in mind with any crowd-sourced project, is that most times, they’re being implemented by a team that has no clue about the entire design process. Generally, they have an idea, ask the crowd for funding, and then once development starts, it overwhelms the team and they’re not able to cope with the fast changes. It’s happened on numerous projects…even the Pebble smart-watch. The Kreyos team isn’t exempt from this issue. In a case like this, I would normally say we should give them some lead-way…but not in this instance.
If any of you follow me on Twitter (@thatjoecoutcher), you’ll notice the various angry tweets in response to the Kreyos team about how they handled updates. The poor public relations from Kreyos…alone…should steer you clear of this watch. On numerous occasions, they withheld information about the product from their backers, missed NUMEROUS ship dates…and in most cases…it wasn’t until a week later that they replied and acknowledged they missed the date.
That being said, I’m going to hold out hope that they resolve the numerous firmware issues with the watch, and that they fix the issues with their app. One things for sure…no way I’m EVER buying anything from Kreyos again…including their Meteor 2. If you’re looking to purchase the Meteor, I would hold out until they resolve all of the issues (which IMHO won’t be anytime soon), or look at investing in a much nicer smart-watch, like one running Android Wear.
At least the thing can tell time. :-)
Stay tuned…if I have time…I’ll review the Meteor using the iOS app and see which one is crappier than the other. :-)