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BuzzBand for Android Wearable Devices

The BuzzBand_AndroidWear App

This section describes the version of the BuzzBand app designed to work with Android Wearable devices (available on Google Play Store).

The app acts as the link between Buzzby and an Android Wearable.

When Buzzby decides a notification should buzz the band, Buzzby passes the notification to the BuzzBand_AndroidWear app which is then responsible for getting the band to vibrate and to display the notification.

BuzzBand_AndroidWear Operation

The usual mode of operation for the BuzzBand_AndroidWear app on the wearable is to pop onto the wearable screen as each notification comes in. A typical notification looks like:

If you swipe from right to left on the notification you find the notification is the start of a list of panels each of which does a different operation on the notification. Notifications are not all the same so the set of available operations in the panels to the right of the notification are likely to vary quite a bit from one notification to the next.

A list of possible panels which can occur to the right of a notification and an example of each is shown below. In each case, you just tap the panel to invoke the operation. All the operations are done on the phone.

  • Dismiss the notification - If the notification has not yet been dismissed on the phone, this panel is present. The panel is the only way to dismiss the notification from the wearable side.

  • Launch notification's app - This will make the phone launch the app at the spot associated with this notification.

  • Special operation - Some notifications provide a menu of responses. If such choices are available they appear as panels here.

  • Browse to a link - Some notifications have website links embedded in their tickertext. if such links are found, one or two of these panels will be present allowing you to launch the browser on the phone directly to the link in question.

  • Sometimes you will want to look at the notification list on your wearable (BuzzBand_AndroidWear keeps the last 25). To find the list of notifications swipe upwards on the watchface till you find the BuzzBand "notification":

    It's really there as a way of getting to the list and doesn't appear unless you swipe to it. Once you see the "notification", swipe from right to left and a button appears:

    Tapping the button brings the notification list back. When you are done with the list, swipe it away.

    If you look closely at the notifcation panel above you will notice a narrow vertical blue line to the left of the panel. The blue line provides some information about the state of the notification at a glance. If the top half of the line is missing, then you have touched the notification (either on the phone in Buzzby or on the wearable). It's a way of helping you keep track of which notifications you have looked at.

    The bottom half of the blue bar disappears if the notification has been dismissed (whether you dismissed it from the phone or from the wearable).

    Setting up Buzzband and an Android Wearable

    Any Android Wearable device needs to have the Google Android Wear app (available on Google Play Store) installed on your phone and running. If it's in place you are already receiving notifications on the wearable device via the Google Android Wear app.

    The next step is to download and install the BuzzBand_AdnroidWear app (also available on Google Play Store). A minute or two after the download from the Google Play Store to your phone the wearable part of the app should appear. Go to the 'Apps' section on the wearable and you should see the BuzzWear app and icon:

    Tap the icon to start the app on the wearable. You will see the app start:

    Go to the phone and tap on the BuzzBand icon to start the app on the phone. You should see a panel like this:

    Tap the 'Test' button and you should get a test notification on your wearable device.

    The final step is to make sure Buzzby will pass notifications to the BuzzBand_AndroidWear app.

    Start Buzzby on the phone and go to it's Buzz tab. Then make sure that at least the check marks below are present:

    The setup is now complete. Any notification that gets through Buzzby's buzz rules and allows a buzz of some kind will be relayed to your wearable device.

    BuzzBand_AndroidWear vs Google Android Wear

    While setting up the apps so they work together is easy, it's not so clear how best to use the Buzzby app and the Google Android Wear app together. By default, each app will forward any notifications produced on your phone to the wearable device. So if you do nothing you will see each notification on the wearable device twice.

    One straightforward solution is to work through the list of apps displayed in Google Android Wear and block them all. That would leave Buzzby to provide all the notifications to the wearable device. If the Google Android Wear app provided a 'Select All' choice so you could block all the apps in one operation, this would be an easy option to take, but unfortunately there is no 'Select All' and you have to block apps one at a time. It's undoubtedly simpler to manage the notifications from just Buzzby, but it's also a bit painful to work throught the app list in Google Android Wear blocking apps one by one.

    If you don't fancy going through the whole list you can sort things out on a case by case basis as notifications appear.

    In a case by case scenario you would deal with doubled up notifications when they happened. You would first go to the Google Android Wear app and block the app which produced the notification, then go to Buzzby and decide if you need to add some rules to control the notification. Over time you would end up having blocked just the apps which actually produce notifications in the Android Wear app rather than having plowed through it's entire list of apps.

    Another variation on the case by case scenario is to block Buzzby's notification rather than the Google Android Wear app. You would choose that path if you were happy receiving all notifications from a particular app and didn't need Buzzby to differentiate between notifications from within the one app. You can block Buzzby's notification by tapping on the notification in Buzzby and creating a buzz rule for it.

    Whichever strategy you follow you will always be able to change your mind as the need arises by unblocking in one app and blocking in the other.

    BuzzBand_AndroidWear Functions

    Their is a group of checkboxes under test button on the BuzzBand_AndroidWear panel:

    The checkboxes provide an additional level of functionality over that provided by Buzzby. Buzzby directs any notificiations which get through the buzz rules to the BuzzBand app, but you can use the checkboxes to further winnow the notifications before they reach the wearable device.

    Each checkbox that is checked potentially reduces the number of notifications passed on.

    As an example, suppose we set up Buzzby to keep a watch for many keywords or phrases using extraction rules and also create a sound rule for each of the extraction rules (or use the create button in the tag list panel) so that a match on any one of the extraction rules produces a specific sound. At the same time there might be many other notificiations which cause a buzz, but but are set to produce a default sound. In such a scenario, we could set the checkboxes as below:

    The impact of this combination of settings in Buzzby and BuzzBand_AndroidWear is that the phone produces a range of sounds depending on incoming notifications, but only notifications which match the extraction rules and their associated sound rules will appear on the wearable.

    For details on the meaning of the checkboxes see the Buzzby documentation for default sounds and sound rules.

    Options for the Wearable side of the app

    The image below concentrates on the options on the BuzzBand_AndroidWear app which impact it's functions on the wearable side.

    The default mode of operation for BuzzBand_AndroidWear is for the wearable screen to come on and display a new notification (and vibrate the band) as each notification arrives. Again, by default, the notification disappears from the wearable screen after some seconds to let the watchface appear. If the wearable is set to turn it's screen off a few seonds later the screen will blank (or dim).

    The options above will vary that behaviour.

    The option that begins 'Keep scr...' when unchecked suppreses the screen turning on and off behaviour. While the checkbox is unchecked, new notifications vibrate the band but don't turn the screen on. When the box is checked the screen turns on at each new notification as stated before. The length of time the notification stays visible is then controlled by the number on the same line as the checkbox. As a special case, if the number is zero, the notification remains till you dismiss the panel and the screen stays on till then.

    The option that starts with 'Make vib...' can be used to tune the kind of vibration produced by an incoming notification. If the vibration on the wearable feels a little weak as a single vibration, check the box and the app will do a double vibration. If a short vibration is quite noticable, leave the box unchecked to conserve battery life.

    The last option is also designed to help conserve battery life. If the box is checked, only notifications that arrive while the screen is off will trigger a vibration.

    BuzzBand_AndroidWear Requirements

    Android OS version should be 4.4 or higher.

    The BuzzBand_AndroidWear app consists of two parts. When you install the app from Google Play Store, one part is installed on the phone and a second part is installed on your Android Wearable device. The android OS handles these operations automatically for you.

    The app requests the following permissions:

  • Read/Write External Storage - The app creates and uses a folder called BuzzBand_AndroidWear when in debug mode to create a trace file for debugging purpose. The permission is not used by the app when downloaded from Google Play Store.

  • Receive Boot Completed - The app uses this permission so that it can start automatically each time the phone is turned on.

  • Vibration - The app uses this permission so that it vibrate the wearable on incoming notifications.

  • WakeLock - The app uses this permission to turn the screen of the wearable on when notifications come in.

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