Awear is unveiling a messaging app for smartwatches that will allow you to send a text message using touch taps rather than a combination of dictation and voice recognition.
The Coffee app for Android works with touch taps on devices. The app knows who your most common message recipients are, and it lets you tap on an image of a person to initiate a message.
Once you select a recipient, the app lists some of the most common messages that you send to that person, and it gives you an option to resend one of those messages. You will see something like “I’m running late.” If you select it, then you see a menu that allows you to choose how late you will be, such as “5 minutes,” “15 minutes” or “30 minutes.”
You may find this to be too restrictive, in which case you would pull out your smartphone and type an actual message. But if you want to do something really quickly, then even pulling out your smartphone might be too cumbersome.
Jakob Wilkenson, founder of San Francisco-based Awear, told VentureBeat that the touch-based menu system is really easy to use. And it isn’t necessarily that restrictive, as the menu system could give you 800 different options for sending messages. The watch will connect via Bluetooth with your smartphone, and it will send via SMS text message.
The app works with devices from Motorola, Samsung, Asus, Sony, and LG smartwatches. Wilkenson showed me how, with a few swipes, you could send a message such as “Honey, I’m Running Late … Do You Need Me to Pick Up Food On The Way Home?”
Awear is one of the companies operating within Peter Relan’s technology incubator, 9+, which works with a small number of companies and mentors them for longer than many incubators do. The 9+ refers to the number of months the incubator works with a startup.
Awear works with Android Wear. It initially works with the Samsung Gear Live, LG G Watch, LG G Watch R, Sony SmartWatch 3, Asus ZenWatch, and Moto 360.
“With Coffee, you can stay in touch and be responsive without constantly bending over your phone or awkwardly talking to your watch,” said Wilkenson. “Now all you have to do is glance at your wrist and with just a few quick swipes of your finger you’re sending messages. It’s faster, easier, and much more discreet than dealing with your phone.”
You can read text messages on your smartwatch and use Coffee to set the vibration patterns to match your favorite contacts. That way, you know who is trying to reach you without looking. Wilkenson said that Coffee’s user interface is based on an intelligent message hierarchy.
You can activate the app by flicking your wrist. Wilkenson said that the touch alternative is a good one when you don’t want to repeatedly try to dictate the same message to your watch, which will likely have trouble recognizing what you say.
“Jakob has vast experience building mobile and consumer products, and we are thrilled to see Coffee come to life and bring instant, discreet messaging to Android smartwatches,” said Relan, founder and chief mentor of San Francisco-based 9+. “Coffee for Android Wear will revolutionize the way we bring together our smartwatch and phone. Coffee is truly the first must-have app for Android Wear.”