WearOS Watch Faces

Apr 2, 2020

One advantage of being part of the Android ecosystem is that you have a lot of freedom about modifying your gadgets including developing your own solutions. Someone can develop for the iOS platform as well for sure, but Apple requires $100/year ($300 for enterprise) developer fee (vs one time $25 fee of Google Play developer account).

I’m in a long time journey of finding an ideal smart fitness watch. I tried Garmin before. I had FitBit Surge from Fresno REI Garage Sale, which had a great GPS and wrist HR. But it could hardly record more than 7-8 hour long activity, and at that time I was picking up longer and longer ultra runs, including a 24 hour timed ultra run. So I purchased a used SUUNTO 9, because that has plenty enough hours to record. Unfortunately both the GPS and the HR performance of that very expensive SUUNTO 9 is sub-par. Sub-par to the point that it ruined one of my FKT attempt’s in the Yosemite. It’s also pretty heavy, but that’s understandable if you have a bigger battery. I sold it on eBay and purchased a Polar M430 at the post-Christmas REI Garage Sale (at REI Berkeley), which has obviously excellent wrist HR capability (Polar is in the HR business for a long time) and very good GPS as well. It’s also fairly light weight, but that comes with a price: it cannot not record activity (with wrist HR and GPS on) too much longer than 3 hours workout, so yet again I started to keep an eye out for a watch.

Actually just a months after I got the Polar M430 I already read in the news that the SUUNTO 7 fitness watch will be a WearOS watch, MSRP $499. I was watching eBay and bid on some and I got a used one not so long ago, and it’s fairing well so far. I was worried about the battery, but it seems OK. The wrist HR sensor looks very different from the SUUNTO 9. Since I’m also developing my own DIY smart watch I’m almost 100% sure that SUUNTO 7 uses a Maxim wrist heart rate sensor. I know how it looks exactly, since I try that with my own development. It’s a pricey one and when I tried the development kit it was not too precise, but that must have been either my mount or my Arduino code since it seems to work fine in the SUUNTO 7 fortunately if I keep the strap tight.

One advantage of having a WearOS watch is the plethora of Watch Faces. However after looking at several ones I had to develop my own to satisfy my exact needs and my imagination:

  • VFD Watch Face:
    • Store listing
    • Source code
    • The time display section somewhat mimics pixelated digital display / VFD.
    • The face offers two rows of complication slots, three slots each in a row above and below the time section.
    • The complications also pick up the pixelated look and the color scheme wherever possible.
    • A main goal is to preserve battery also decrease installation size, so there’s no background image. The resources are vectorial. The watch face embeds a font (VT323) which provides the pixelated look though.
    • The abundance of complication slots provides high configurability.
  • Flower Complication Watch Face:
    • Store listing
    • Source code
    • It only consist of complications, complete freedom of configurability
    • A main goal is to preserve battery and also decrease installation size, so there’s no background image. Resources are vectorial.

Let me know what you think about them!

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