The Friday Debate: Do you even want a smartwatch?

April 19, 2013
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The-Friday-Debate aa Image: Evan Forester/Flickr

We are all mobile geeks, here at Android Authority. We love everything with a power button. We like to comment the latest news and endlessly argue over which phone is better. On the Friday Debate, we pick a hot issue and proceed to discuss it. Join us!

Smartwatches. Everyone’s building one, it seems. Let’s see, we have rumors or statements from Apple, Google, Samsung, LG, and, the latest, Microsoft. With Google Glass becoming available to the first Explorers and talk about wearable computing growing in intensity, it seems that wearable devices, including smartwatches, are the inevitable next paradigm in computing.

But do you even want a smartwatch? Would a wrist-worn computer turn your computing fantasies into reality? Or is it much ado about nothing? We ponder the problem in this Friday Debate.

Joe Hindy

Smart watches are simply not advanced enough to be truly useful right now. Other smart watches right now are little more than companion devices. This isn’t a bad thing but it’s hard for me to justify spending what will like be a pretty penny to purchase what is essentially an accessory to my current Android devices.That said, I would reserve my final judgement until these watches have a finalized feature list. If the next generation of watches are capable of more than just sending notifications and other simple tasks, then I would surely consider buying one.

Nate Swanner

The question isn’t whether I want a smartwatch now, it’s when will it be a necessity?

Currently, the smartwatch has really limited functionality. That function is natural to its form, as a small screen hinders it greatly. That same screen also limits my desire for one.

If, as the Pebble demonstrates, a smartwatch is useful for little more than getting notifications on my wrist… that’s just unnecessary. If there is something that just can’t wait for my attention, I’m probably not going about my normal activity anyway. Obviously, it has other functions like controlling music, but none of what a smartwatch currently does makes it a necessity.

So when will that be? Good question. I still propose that a Google Glass/Smartwatch tandem is the only real way we get away from smartphones entirely, with the watch carrying the radios and providing a different interface for back-end things like settings. The Glass would act as our interface for the UI, and the two have a symbiotic relationship. Once that happens… maybe I’ll start wearing a watch again.

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Derek Scott

I already have too much tech in my life and I think a watch would be overkill. On the other hand, if it was able to add a ton of productivity to my life then I would consider it.I think the smart watch has a ton of potential in emerging countries such as India. I’m sure eventually the price point will get down to very affordable levels for the masses.It’s also worth noting, wearing a smart watch will help others identify you as a nerd. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is up to you.

Bogdan Bele

As much as I love watches (proper ones, with mechanical components and all), I always thought smart watches were no more than an oddity. One of them used to pop up every year or so, from one manufacturer or the other, then disappear just as fast.

This time I do think, however, that they have the potential to make a bigger mark, with devices like Pebble, as well as the rumored Google and Apple smart watches.

Would I buy one, though? A few months ago, the answer would have been a definite no, but now the Pebble looks rather interesting (and it would probably remain so for a few days, until I’d get bored), plus I would most certainly be interested in trying a Google one. Will I have the opportunity to do so? Who knows…

I’m pretty sure, though, that people saying smart watches will replace phones at some point are way too optimistic.

Pebble

Robert Triggs

I personally can’t see myself ever using a smart watch, not because I think they’re an inherently bad product, just because I don’t really have a use for one.

Smartwatches are pretty pointless when it comes to checking messages or status updates, reaching a few extra inches into my pocket isn’t a hassle and I’m going to have to pick up my smartphone if I want to reply anyway.

However there is definitely a market for smartwatches regarding more niche uses. Tracking your exercise regime, navigating through unfamiliar streets, and switching music tracks are all do-able with a smartphone, but simply tapping or checking a screen on your wrist would be much more convenient in these situations.

Simply put I see the smartwatch for what it is; a smartphone accessory. They certainly make specific situations more convenient, but I don’t see them ever replacing traditional handsets.

Derek Ross

If memory serves me correctly, my first watch was a Knight Rider watch. I pretended to talk to Kitt with it, pretending my watch was a smartwatch. Fast forward 20-25 years and this childhood dream may finally become a reality.

Wearable computing is the future and smartwatches make sense. Wearable computing aims to make life easier and make us even more connected. For those of us that love living the connected life, I feel this is an easy transition. Due to mobile phones, I haven’t worn a watch in 15 years. It will be an interesting transition for me, but ultimately something I do want.

lg smartwatch

Daniel Charlton

I think smartwatches are stupid.  But then again, I don’t wear a watch.  Even still, that’s part of the problem with the concept.  It’s predicated on this assumption that people who don’t wear watches don’t wear them because a normal timepiece just doesn’t do enough for them.  But that’s not why people don’t wear watches.  I find watches uncomfortable to wear – it doesn’t matter how much computing power some company packs into it, it’s still a watch and I still don’t want it strapped to my arm all the time.

As wearable tech continues to gain traction in the industry, this problem will grow.  My dislike of the smartwatch is based on my dislike of watches – not anything at all to do with the tech these companies are making.  Similarly, people who really hate wearing glasses will never like Google Glass, no matter how awesome the product might be.  I like seeing the innovation, but IT companies need to remember that they are not apparel companies.  I wouldn’t trust Rolex to make me a good computer, so I don’t know why people are expecting IT companies to make them a better Rolex.

Brad Ward

I feel that smartwatches are, at the time being, pointless. I mean, I already have a smartphone that’s just a few inches out of my reach at all times.

On the other hand, I don’t like the idea having all of this wearable technology. It’s cool and all, but it seems that with the addition of wearable technology we’ll be more focused on our Twitter feeds, text messages and other things that are happening on the web than actual people.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Google Glass and the concept of a smartwatch, I just feel like wearable technology is something we’re starting to obsess over, so to speak.

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Andrew Grush

Would I ever use a smartwatch? Once upon a time, I actually did.

Sometime around 2006 I managed to get my hands on a Fossil Abacus FX2008. For those that don’t know, it was a primitive Palm OS-based watch. At the time I thought it was amazing.

Since that time, I’ve found that my smartphone can easily replace the need for any kind of watch, smartwatches included. Reaching for my phone only takes a few seconds of my time, and it has access to just about everything I could ever want.

Could a smartwatch be a more convenient way to access information on the go? Maybe, and if companies like Samsung can truly “wow” me, I’d be willing to at least think about it. Honestly though, it would come down to pricing. I just can’t see myself dropping big bucks down for a watch.

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