I picked up my first G-SHOCK a few days ago.
Strange for me as I haven’t warn a watch since I got a cell phone over 10 years ago.
I just happened to see the bluetooth square G-SHOCK in a magazine at a hairdresser in Tokyo and had to have it. I guess in the back of my mind I have always liked the original G-SHOCK design and since a model has arrived that can increase the usefulness of my phone, I just had to have it.
After the haircut I did some brief research over coffee on my iPhone, saw that it was compatible with the Bluetooth 4.0 Phone 4S and 5 and some Android phones. That was it, I decided within about 10 minutes that I would walk down the road and buy it.
So I headed to Bic Camera and purchased it. It was very reasonable at just 14,000 yen (US$170).
The bluetooth and vibration functionality itself is excellent, for a retro design, I don’t think they could have integrated the new features any better without destroying the look. Those features are:
-time sync from the phone to the watch, this works perfectly and gets the watch to within 1 sec of atomic time (verified with time.is). I don’t own any atomic clocks or watches because I may end up living out of atomic radio tower range. So this is a great feature for people like me.
-watch vibrates when the phone is out of range, which can remind you to go back and get it if you have left it somewhere, and if you're somewhere like Japan it will probably still be there when you go back :)
-hold down the search button on the watch and the phone will play a unique tone (or music you can select) at the volume you have configured, even if the phone is in silent mode, so it’s like local-area “find my iPhone” but much faster to use, and works perfectly. To silence the tone, you just double tap the watch screen, there is a tap indicator on the screen whenever an event such as countdown timer (24-hour btw) finishing or an alarm goes off.
-incoming call alert, I have set this to vibrate only, as fiddling with the watch to turn on mute regularly doesn’t appeal. No caller ID on iPhone, I believe there is on Android. Would be nice on the iPhone but no big deal.
-incoming mail alert, I also have this set to vibrate and it will scroll the senders address across the dot matrix portion of the display, at least most of it anyway, there is of course a character limit before it scrolls from the beginning again. Alternatively, you can set it to only alert on new mail from addresses in contacts, if this option is on, it displays the senders name on the watch instead of the email address.
-the watches bluetooth connection will sleep if it doesn’t detect movement for an hour and will then reconnect automatically once you pick it up without touching the phone.
To enable all of this functionality you need the G-SHOCK+ app which, luckily is available in the UK Apple iOS app store that I use. The app is good (for a 1.0) but certainly not great, it needs work that I can only hope actually occurs.
The english in the app isn’t perfect and it could do with a bit more polish, the initial paring does take a few minutes which seems excessively long. This paring is done within the app itself and not in the iPhone Settings app, if bluetooth is off in the Settings app you are prompted to turn it on.
The email functionality works internally in the app so it is not linking to any email accounts setup in iOS. You need to manually enter POP/IMAP settings and set the check interval to 5, 10 or 15 mins. I have it set to 5 and I have Exchange push mail set on the phone as well, so this does mean that the watch will buzz anywhere from 0-5 mins after the phone does. Doesn’t bother me much but Im sure it will for some.
It would be nice if iOS features like caller ID, iMessage, txt, FaceTime, iOS alarms, countdown timer etc. could send alerts to the watch. Hopefully the app can one day be updated to do this. Im not sure if Casio is waiting on the SDKs from apple for it or if they just haven’t done it as yet. While I’m in dream land, music controls via the watch would be great too, but Im sure that would require a re-design of the watch itself.
The app will run indefinitely in the background. How Casio got Apple to allow this I have no idea, but they have allowed it, and it works. I used an app called AppSwitch to monitor CPU usage etc. There is no noticeable extra load but it is constantly pumping warning messages into the console, which in of itself I don’t think really matters, but it sure makes me wonder about the extra battery drain that this app could be causing. Anecdotally, I do think I’m getting slightly less battery life, but I did go from having bluetooth switched off previously, to now being always on.
Aside from the bluetooth features I am loving the watch itself. Its very comfortable, I think it looks great and I'm really enjoying glancing at my wrist vs taking out my phone to find out the date or time.
The watch itself has really overshadowed the bluetooth geekery for me and has brought back fond memories of the Casio digital I had as a kid in the 80’s and 90’s.
I’m really wondering why I gave up wearing watches and why I have never owned a g-shock before. I’m already eyeing a mint DW-5600C screw back model and possibly the current 5000 series screw back…