In a rare admittance of its slip-ups with Android and Android Wear, Google acknowledges a bug in Android Wear 5.1.1 that is causing battery drain headaches for many smartwatches running on the updated platform.
A Google representative named Ernest has jumped into a thread in Google's Product Forums informing smartwatch owners complaining of massive battery drains after updating to Android Wear 5.1.1 that Google is currently working on solving the problem.
"Hi everyone, we are aware of this and we are working on fixing this issue. Thanks for your patience!" says Ernest.
The issue appears to affect all Android Wear smartwatches running version 5.1.1 to be at par with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop running on most flagship Android devices. This include the Sony Smartwatch 3, the LG G Watch, LG G Watch R, LG G Watch Urbane and Samsung Gear Live. The Moto 360 seems to have been spared, but with Motorola rolling out Android Wear 5.1.1, users might encounter the issues if Google doesn't come out with a fix first.
Users have taken to online forums to voice their discontent at the sudden change in performance of their smartwatches' batteries. Many of them say they noticed dramatic drops in battery life even when they are not doing anything different and with some of the watch's most draining features, such as Wi-Fi, turned off.
"I noticed on my Sony Smartwatch 3 with Android Wear 5.1.1 that almost every night my watch's battery would nosedive, draining 30 percent to 50 percent an hour until dead," says one user, Hayden. "I wasn't doing anything special at night, just turning on theater mode and the watch would still remain within two to three feet of my phone and connected via Bluetooth."
Other reports also include noticing that the watch feels warm, with one user claiming that he woke up in the middle of the night with his Smartwatch 3 feeling very hot on his wrist.
It's unclear what is causing the battery draining issues, but there are several theories. User Ian Kumilen has posted a rather technical theory of what he thinks is behind the massive drains, which can be read on his Google+ page. Basically, Kumilen says Google Play Services is eating up all the RAM, causing the phone's battery to drain quickly. Other users chalk it up to Google Maps, and some people have tried deleting the app to find their battery drain back to lower levels, but not to their original levels and, of course, without the ability to use Maps on their smartwatch.
There is, however, a temporary fix for this problem. Many users have reported that rebooting their smartwatch when they see the battery running near empty stops the rapid drain for a while. However, this is quite an inconvenient solution, as some users report having to reboot their smartwatches a few times every day. Until then, there is no choice but to wait for Google's development team to issue a fix.
Photo: Maurizio Pesce | Flickr