Unless you’ve been hiding in a hole, or just not that into technology, you will have heard about smartwatches. The question on everyone’s lips is: do we really need them? At present, most smartwatches have very little purpose other than working as an accessory for smartphones; even those that can work independently of an android device have failings that are hard to overlook. So, taking that into consideration, if they serve no real purpose on their own merits, is there any point in buying one?
Smartwatches Are Not Mainstream Yet
Although smartwatches have been around for a few years, they have by no means moved into the mainstream; instead, they still really only appeal to technophiles, or to those that want the latest gadget hanging off their arm, a smartwatch buying guide show. Earlier models, such as the Sony SmartWatch, were basic, offering limited functions and acting mainly as a “remote” for smartphones.
They were promoted as being a discrete way to stay connected to the outside world, through notifications, at times when using a phone would be considered inappropriate. Although there is no doubting the usefulness of providing a discrete alternative to answering your phone in the middle of an important meeting, that feature alone was not enough to persuade people to buy a smartwatch (especially when, in reality, that was all the watch had to offer).
Smartwatch Technology Is Improving At A Rapid Rate
However, the technology involved in developing smartwatches is ever-evolving, with previous mistakes being learned, and corrected. For example, many customers had certain issues with the Sony SmartWatch and were very vocal about its perceived failings. Sony took the comments on board and bounced back with the new Sony SmartWatch 2 (SW2), which still has the original features, but has been tweaked to enhance usability.
One major improvement was incorporating one-touch NFC technology, which revolutionized the connection process: the watch and android device need only to be placed next to each other, or gently tapped, for the two to pair up. So, Sony definitely smartened up its act, but although important changes have been made, there is a still a long way to go: the screen resolution is low, and the watch does not offer a camera or microphone, so, all in all, despite the improvements, it’s fair to say that it can only be described as offering a basic functions.
Samsung Galaxy Gear Leads The Latest Generation Of Smartwatches
Moving on to the latest generation of smartwatches: these are much more advanced than the earlier models which were quite simply ineffectual when not paired with a smartphone. These are different in that they operate on a stand-alone basis, working independently of smartphones, yet usually offering the same features (more or less) that a smartphone does. The Samsung Galaxy Gear is an all-singing, all-dancing smartwatch, jam-packed with functions and features, and on principle, works as a stand-alone device, in that it can be used for taking phone calls.
However, just because the phone call feature is there, doesn’t mean to say that it works really well; many people feel that the quality of the calls is less than desirable. At first glance, the Galaxy Gear does seem to be a step in the right direction, but the fact that the watch is only compatible with Note smartphones severely limits its potential and appeal.
OmateTrueSmart Is The Next Generation
So, up until now, the smartwatch hasn’t been so much smart, but more of an average, under-achiever. However, if predictions are true, the market is set to be rocked by a watch that is being billed as well and truly smart. Launching later this year, American company Omate are revealing a watch that they say is the ultimate in smart, and will not only work on a stand-alone basis but will relinquish the need for a smartphone altogether. Called the TrueSmart, Omate claims that the smartwatch will allow phone calls, emails and catching up on social media sites.
As well as this, they plan to incorporate some of the usual smartwatch features, such as GPS and a music player. Obviously, the Omate smartwatch is still in the prototype stages, and although on the surface appears not to be much different from other stand-alone devices, only time will tell.
So What Do I Think
As it stands, the smartwatches available today appeal to a minority market, that is undeniable; they just don’t have what it takes to convert to a mass audience. That said, we can’t ignore the fact that smartwatches are still in their infancy, with a whole heap of possibility waiting to be tapped into. I think the inclination would be to view smartwatches as a complement to your smartphone. Until they can compete on equal footing with a smartphone (or even out-perform smartphones), smartwatches should truly be viewed as a compliment or a fashionable accessory. And with big guns such as Google rumored to be joining the competition shortly, it is only a matter of time before we see some truly remarkable smartwatches appearing on the market.