Android Wear 2.0 was supposed to arrive a long time ago, but we’ve just gotten our first look at it in the wild thanks to Casio’s just-announced WSD-F20 smartwatch. Well, almost — the watches on display at CES were working, but only running demo software. But we were able to swipe around the watch’s interface and all the expected tweaks that Wear 2.0 provides (even that ridiculously tiny keyboard) appear to be in tact.
But the next version of Wear will be coming to other watches as well, so let’s spend a few talking about the hardware here. Due to its pedigree as a watch aimed at outdoorsy types, this watch is thick and chunky and not at all something that goes with most outfits. From the front, it’s actually not a bad looking device, but it’s quite thick, and the wide plastic band isn’t exactly the most stylish. But that’s OK, because this watch’s design appears to be well suited to its target use — it’s water resistant to depths of 50 meters and also resists the elements at large thanks to its MIL-STD-810 military-spec performance.
Casio also baked in some custom functions on top of the Android Wear 2.0 base, including its own watch faces and mapping app. The later is particularly important: those maps can be loaded up and saved offline, and thanks to the built-in GPS you’ll be able to see where you are on these maps at any point on your journey. Clearly, Casio knows lots of buyers will be in places with no cell coverage (the watch itself doesn’t have a cellular radio, in case you were wondering).
Also reinforcing the WSD-F20’s focus on the outdoors, the matte screen is designed so it won’t reflect sunlight back at you, making it much easier to read. The downside here is that the colors aren’t nearly as vibrant as you’d see on a device like the Apple Watch or most other Android Wear watches. But, again, this isn’t a mass-market device, and most who wear it probably won’t keep it on all day, every day.
Indeed, at $499, the WDS-F20 is not meant for the average consumer who wants to give a smartwatch a try. There are plenty of other Android Wear watches for that. But Casio’s latest could be a good companion for a variety of outdoor activities. The only catch is battery life, which Casio didn’t have any details on. If you’re going to be out hiking for multiple days, the watch won’t be very useful if it’s dead.