A New Obsession – Smartwatch Faces

Wildstar Watch FaceI was fortunate enough to be able to buy an LG G Watch R from a friend who was changing carriers and phones. Smartwatches have been on my radar for a while because I like technology, especially if it’s got both form and function. I had actually stopped wearing watches back in the mid 90’s when I worked at a liquor store, because reaching between glass bottles with a bulky growth on my arm tended to sweep bottles of expensive booze onto the tile floor, and no one would have been happy about that.

The watch does what you’d expect it to: connects to your smartphone (Galaxy S6 in my case) and gives you weather updates, notifications, and can run some apps pushed from the phone. For example, I can use Google Maps to navigate with turn-by-turn instructions delivered to the watch face. Not great for driving, but it’s a godsend when navigating an unfamiliar city and not looking like a tourist. I’ve come to rely on the watch more than the phone (the fact that the phone is still in the loop notwithstanding) because it’s just more convienient than having to dig into my pocket to tell the time or to see who’s sending me messages.

Like any watch, though, there’s also an element of presentation. The G Watch R isn’t as bulky as I thought it would be, and since the body of the watch is basic black with white markings around the bezel, the best way to get your fashionable bang for your buck is to switch out the watch faces.

There’s a good amount of nice faces you can download for free or for a nominal fee from the Google Play store via the Android Wear application (which handles the interface between the watch and phone), but I came across an app on the Store called Watchmaker. This is an app that runs on your Android device and allows you to create your own watch faces. Basically, a watch face is just layers of elements that are built up to create the display. In my Wildstar example that I posted on Twitter last night, the face is made up of an image of the planet Nexus, the Wildstar logo, the band of numbers, the tick marks, and hour and minute hands, all in that order. Watchmaker really has no requirements for coding knowledge (although it does allow you to script features in Lua), nor does it require a lot of intense graphical work. All of the elements in the face above are stock, downloaded from the Internet or made available from the Watchmaker element repository. You can tweak the layers in different ways for different effects. The Wildstar logo has a lower opacity setting, for example, in an attempt to reduce the “busy-ness” of the face. The number font was an option within Watchmaker, and it looked pretty “Nexian” to me. The hour and minute hand colors are also customizable. Although I didn’t include an image to illustrate it, the watch has a dimming feature, and in this case it just shows the tick marks and the faded Wildstar logo with the watch hands on a black background. Stylish!

Since last night, I’ve been thinking about other watch faces I could make. I’m not entirely pleased with this one, since I actually slapped it together while I was waiting for dinner to cook. I’m planning on maybe creating some racial representations for Wildstar, and also factional faces for The Secret World.

If you’ve got an Android powered smartwatch, check out Watchmaker. There’s a free and a premium version; I believe the free version allows you to use Watchmaker faces, while the premium version allows you to build them. If you would like to use the Wildstar face above, you can download it from the WatchAware website and import it through Watchmaker. The wiki says that faces can be made into APKs, but that requires a lot of hoops to jump through that I don’t have the time for at the moment. Maybe once I get several faces done, and am happy with them, I’ll see about setting up a Google Developer account with all that it entails.

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