The smartwatch has existed in some form or the other since the early 1980s, but took its current popular form three years ago with the launch and success of the Pebble. Google got into the game in 2014 with Android Wear and 2015 has seen the launch of the highly-anticipated Apple Watch.
Not everyone agrees with the idea of smartwatches, though. I’ve heard a range of arguments against the idea, from the fact that we don’t need another device to charge every night, to the idea that a watch is a stylish accessory that is meant for one single set of functions centred on telling the time. Simply put, why should I spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on a device when it’s not obvious why I really need one?
To some extent, I have to agree. Smartwatches are simply adding another device to the list of things you have to remember to plug in before going to bed every night. And of course, it’s an additional expenditure on a product that will last as long as your smartphone, and we all know how long smartphones last. Are we trying to turn a potentially simple and life-long purchase into just another disposable gadget?
Despite how “beautifully designed” it is and no matter its current lineup of apps and features, the Smart Watch will need significant time to gain momentum before it has an opportunity to really catch on with consumers. Every OEM is pushing these wearable devices down the throat of customers when at best, any smart watch seems like a half baked product and does not necessarily justify the price tag considering that it aims to improve lives.
Smartwatches don’t really need to exist right now. Looking at my messages, answering calls, controlling my music, and everything in between can be done by simply using my phone. But there’s simple, old-fashioned geeky joy to eliminating those small, seemingly inefficient steps. I like not having to reach for my phone to glance at a message, instead simply turning my wrist over to read the latest grocery list that my mother has sent me.
I enjoy swiping at my wrist to answer a call from a pesky telemarketer instead of reaching for my phone. I like keeping my hands on the wheel at all times while driving, so I can yell instructions at my watch on who to call and what reply to send to that latest message from a friend who wants advice on which phone to buy.
In the time I’ve been wearing a smartwatch, I’ve often been asked what watch that is I’m wearing, simply because the idea of a light-up LED display on a wrist is novel and uncommon. No matter how unattractive the smartwatch is compared to a well-crafted traditional watch, it’s still an eye-catcher simply by virtue of being what it is. And while a traditional watch looks the same day in and day out, a smartwatch can have its face changed to whatever you fancy. App markets already exist for Pebble and Android Wear that include dozens of aftermarket watch faces, while apps like Facer let you design your own watch face.
Reasons to buy
Yes, I could easily do without my smartwatch. I’ve gone days without touching it and the only side effect is that I instinctively glance at my wrist (even if it’s bare) every time my phone buzzes. But when I have it on, it adds just a little bit of happiness to my life. The kind of happiness that only a completely pointless gadget can give you. Usually it just sits somewhere with my tablet and gets forgotten about. But here are some reasons you should consider buying one.
1. Smartwatches don’t suck any more
This is perhaps the biggest reason to give smartwatches a try. Not long ago smartwatches were clumsy, goofy looking gadgets, but the current batch, from the Huawei Watch to the Moto 360 and Gear S2, all look and work great.
Even Android Wear has improved to a workable degree and Samsung’s Tizen platform is showing Google how wearable interfaces are done. Apps for wearables, watch faces and customization options are really kicking off. Even battery life has come a long way in just over a year.
2. Smartwatches are getting cheaper
Now that we’re looking at second and third generation devices, the originals are incredibly cheap. You can pick up a first generation Moto 360 for $150, along with other first-gen watches such as the Asus ZenWatch. Even second-gen watches like the LG G Watch R are a lot cheaper now.
If you’re simply interested in testing the smartwatch waters, it has never been cheaper to do so. The good news is that specs haven’t really changed since last year, so the old watches are running the same software with the same hardware for half the price.
3. Smartwatches connect you more
Let’s be honest : most people have serious issues paying attention to those in front of them. Who hasn’t seen a table of people out for dinner, all furiously sending messages to those not in attendance? We’re probably all guilty of ignoring our dinner companions in order to Instagram a photo at one time or another.
The thing I like best about smartwatches is that I can be even more connected to what’s going on on my phone without being rude. Glancing at a watch is more discreet than constantly pulling out a phone, and they don’t require anywhere near as much attention as a phone – you simply get the message and return to what you were doing, but you’ll still never miss anything. Notifications are why, you should consider buying a smart watch.
Did my girl friend call? Did I not hear it ring!? Did I finally get that email I’ve been waiting for from my attorney? Or did my annoying neighbor text again? Or is it another damn game request from some idiot on Facebook? That frickin’ flashing light flashes and lures you in no matter what type of notification you get.
With notifications on my wrist, I know immediately when I receive a call or a text or an email. My wrist goes buzz and I see immediately that it’s a phone call I need to take. So, I dig my phone from my bag and answer it. Buzz again and I see it’s a text I can ignore until later.
Ah, the sweet taste of smartphone freedom.
Unlike some people who complain about their wrists constantly vibrating with frivolous notifications (OMG, how annoying!), it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to turn on the types of notifications you want and turn off those you don’t. You’re usually prompted to pick your notifications in the set-up process, so that should be a non-issue. Turn off messages from Facebook and you won’t have to worry about that constant barrage of game and friend requests blowing up your wrist. It’s easy.
One might say that health tracking also is a big selling point for smartwatches. And it is. But, sadly, not everyone cares about constantly monitoring their steps or their heart rate. Not everyone exercises. If you own a smartphone — and the masses do — then you get and most likely care about notifications.
While every OEM is focused on Voice Assistants and Smartwatches, touting them as the next big thing, smartwatches still have a ways to go before everyone you see walking down the street is wearing one. If that ever happens. Smartwatches don’t yet have a very convincing reason to make consumers shell out money. The Industry is divided, while everyone agrees they have a future, everyone also agrees they do not have a present.
What do you think? Do you own a smartwatch? Are you looking for reasons to buy one?