Friday, September 20, 2013

Reasons to avoiud purchasing smart watches

Now that tablets have been established to the mainstream, companies like Apple, Samsung or Google are already working on the next big thing: smartwatches. When I hear smartwatch I immediately think about the TV show Knight Rider and how Michael Knight communicated with his Car using a watch in the 80s.
Smartwatches are like smartphones, only smaller in size and wearable on the wrist just like any other watch. The prototypes that leaked all around on the Internet suggest that they are considerable larger than regular watches, likely because of the screen size that has to be adequate for users to read what is displayed on it.
A question that needs to come to mind is why you would want a smartwatch if you have already a smartphone with you at all times - or nearly, at the very least.
I can think of a couple of activities where this may make sense. If you like to jog and listen to music at the same time, you may prefer to use the lighter watch that you can wear more comfortably than the bulkier smartphone. The same goes for activities where you can't use a smartphone at all, say swimming. If smartphones are waterproof, you could use them for these activities as well, for instance to record the distance.
photo watchfaces 3Pebble smartwatch
Last but not least, you may also be able to use smartphone and smartwatch in conjunction with each other. If you get a call, you may look at the watch to see who is calling for example without having to go through your bag or pockets to take out your phone.

Why I'm not interested in smartwatches

knight rider watchSmartwatches may make life easier for some uses. Controlling your music via your watch may save you a couple of seconds each time you do so, and seeing the caller ID or SMS right on the watch without having to get out your phone first may save you even more time.
I do not consider this essential or need to have though. Yes, it is nice if you can control music playback easier, or see how fast and far you have gone on your cycling trip in real-time, but those information are also readily available on your smartphone. You may not have access to it at all times though, but is there really a need for that?
The only thing that I really like about those watches is that they are waterproof to a degree. You can use the Pebble to swim for instance which can be useful to keep track of your progress in this regard.
There is something else that you need to consider. While watches run on battery traditionally, smartwatches require more power. The developers of the Pebble claim it will run for seven or more days, while Samsung's soon to be revealed Galaxy Gear smartwatch may only last for ten hours. This may not even get you through a whole work day or a day of trekking or other outdoor activities.
To sum it up:
  1. Smartwatches are bulky. Depending on how big your arms are, they may look out of place on the arm.
  2. Battery issues are a serious concern. One needs to wait for real-life independent tests though to find out how long these watches will last.
  3. Functionality-wise, there is not a lot that these watches bring to the table that smartphones do not. This includes being water-proof which can be interesting, and a faster way of accessing information and basic control over music that is more comfortable.

Closing Words

holographicI do not need a smartwatch, not right now anyway. Once they get to holographic displays, I may be interested but that is probably not going to happen in the next couple of years.
Smartwatches, just like phones and tablets, will evolve in the coming years. The first waves may be bulky, do not provide a lot of functionality, or run out of battery quickly, but technology will improve over time and third or fourth generation smartwatches may have a larger appeal than first generation watches have right now to me.
I may be biased towards watches in general, as I have not used one for the last ten years or so except on special occasions.
I'd like to know what you think about smartwatches. Are you interested in getting one as soon as they become available? If you do, please explain what you plan to use the watch for. Maybe I have overlooked something that may make those watches interesting to me after all.