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The not-so-smart smartwatch trend, a disappointment

The+Samsung+Galaxy+smartwatch%2C+one+of+the+recent+releases+in+mobile+wearables.
The Samsung Galaxy smartwatch, one of the recent releases in mobile wearables.

The Samsung Galaxy smartwatch, one of the recent releases in mobile wearables.

commons.wikimedia.org

commons.wikimedia.org

The Samsung Galaxy smartwatch, one of the recent releases in mobile wearables.

Faiz Aly, Contributing Writer

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When the iPhone was announced back in 2007, it was a revolutionary breakthrough in the mobile market. That momentum accelerated when the iPad was announced in 2010. It became the next big thing.

Today, we have smartwatches, which are being considered the most personable device. Yet, after testing various different smartwatches, including the recently-released Apple Watch, do I consider these devices a failure or a hint towards a brighter future when it comes to mobile wearables?

The first feature that all smartwatches advertise is its notifications. Getting notifications on your wrist sounds like a cool thing. You never miss a message because you couldn’t feel your phone’s brief vibration in your pocket. And you can control your music with it, too! That is awesome, right? But in the real world, it quickly becomes a nuisance.

When most people get a message, they reply to it almost immediately. How are you going to reply on a watch with a tiny display? There’s no keyboard. Oh wait, there’s voice dictation. After testing this voice dictation feature on various smart watches, I must say that the feature does work. But, it was hardly used because I don’t want to look dumb talking to my watch in front of people and having them hear what I am sending. It is much faster to take your phone out and read the message on a larger display, rather than squinting, and text back through it.

Okay, but that’s just messages. What about other notifications like Facebook, Snapchat, and other social media apps? Yes, you get those notifications right away, too. But you can’t interact with them.

For example, I will receive a notification on my smartwatch from Snapchat telling me I have a new snap from a friend, but there is no way I can view it. It is as if the watch is telling me to pull out my phone to view the message from Snapchat or a comment I received on my latest Facebook photo. You get the point. The notification feature is a gimmick and it sucks.

Next, manufacturers are promising their smartwatch users a powerful health and fitness tracker. Honestly, it doesn’t do much that my phone cannot do. My iPhone 6 Plus has an accelerometer, barometer, gyroscope, and other sensors that track everything the watch would. Plus, on the phone, it shows me a great visual report with graphs that better display the data of my health. So, this is unnecessary because all these sensors are not providing anything new and are, in fact, eating up the watch’s battery, which leads to my next argument.

The battery, on all the major smartwatches I have tested, is absolutely terrible. It only lasts a day or two on modest use. If you want to use those hardcore sensors, then you’ll be lucky if it even lasts a day. It was embarrassing when around 8 PM my watch was “dead” and I couldn’t answer the old man that asked me what the time was. Why wear a device that hardly lasts a day?

In reality, the smartwatch is not so smart. The smartphone does everything perfectly, whether it is with controlling your notifications and alerts, sending messages, or even tracking your health and fitness. The smartwatch is a failure because they aren’t better than anything and its features are half-baked. The smartphone is the big thing now and is only going to get better in the future, as it is a personal device that gives you not only a plethora of amazing features but also a far better user experience.

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1 Comment

One Response to “The not-so-smart smartwatch trend, a disappointment”

  1. Chris Laarman on September 25th, 2015 5:02 am

    Sure, a smartwatch is no replacement for a smartphone, rather an addition.

    I bought mine for navigating on my bicycle. (I live in the Netherlands, to put that in perspective.) I can assure you that I prefer being tapped on the wrist for turning to stopping, getting my smartphone out, my glasses on, and resume cycling.

    The other week I felt like making a trip. Starting northward against the wind, but I knew that thunderstorms were approaching from the South. So I could monitor the weather at a twist of the wrist (and I reached home just minutes before the storm).

    That is my current use of a smartwatch. It’s an Apple Watch, therefore paired with an iPhone. Judging from the variety of apps that I have installed on the watch (by their counterparts on the phone), I have quite some uses for that smartwatch to discover.
    As I plan to buy an Android Wear smartwatch to use with my Android smartphone, I have no doubt that I’m in for discovering additional possibilities for the smartwatch as a device.

    In my opinion, round-face smartwatches are less fit for the handling of notifications and controls than rectangle-face ones. I think that they are to compete with “dumbwatches” (however good chronometers these may be) and develop (devolve) in that direction, whereas the rectangle-face ones will evolve into quite useful devices alongside smartphones.

    But “quite uselful” isn’t exactly “indispensable”. 🙂

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The not-so-smart smartwatch trend, a disappointment