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.

google-time-smartwatch-concept

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.

sony-smartwatch-02

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.

Would you like a smartwatch?

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Comments

  • MasterMuffin

    I dislike every wearable tech thingy, I just simply don’t see why anyone would really need them (sorry Glass)!

    • APai

      mobile companies are getting bored with no “next big thing” announcements! so, we are getting all of these. who knows, there will be some people who might need this. say you have this smart watch , and you are driving a car – you need a quick glance who’s calling. although this might make driving more dangerous!!!

      however, dull office meetings are fair game :P

  • Skripka

    Dear gawd, no. Please make it stop.

  • jayray78

    I would like a smartwatch, if it was really going to be all that its supposed to be. I don’t want a tethered device. I want a device that can stand on its own and do all that I need it to. I realize the tech isn’t there to replace a smartphone, but if it could I would be interested.

  • http://twitter.com/ak_r7 Avinash Kumar

    C’mon.. as if carrying a smartphone was not enough to ruin social/personal life.. Human beings would slowly turn into humanoids or robots.. technology is definitely a blessing but too much of anything is bad..
    I love my ‘ dumb’ watch..it does best what it is supposed to do(tell time).. for other stuff, smartphone is there..

    what’s next? smart underwear? These so called “smart” techs are making human beings DUMB

    • On a Clear Day

      The art of speaking with another human being and having an intelligent conversation – and being talented at it – is inversely proportional to the dependence a person has upon using text messaging, smart phones as well as emailing.

      You do not learn to modulate your voice; think on your feet conceptually and hold your own in a conversation with a friend, spouse or adversary effectively when you waste your time, allow yourself to be constantly tethered to a machine and do your “communicating” via cryptic abbreviations of 140 characters or less.

      You are right Avinash all this “smart” technology is making us incredibly dumb and undermining our ability to communicate and see the world thorough the eyes of another human being via conversation.

      • wapl

        Yeah, like people with IQ of 140 are interested in the mental levels of average people. No, they need tech to stay in touch with others at their own level to get any taste of whats intelligence for them. You can have a one way intelligent conversation with an average person but he will still never be able to understand, he will just accept everything an intelligent person said because “everyone knows he is a genius” but will go on to talk crap about him behind his back.

        But if by intelligent you meant IQ of 100 then go ahead, knock yourself out and get rid of all tech, evolution will go on better without you.

    • Kapil Agarwal

      Although I do not consider having smart watches but we never know when we might need one and cell phones were also dumb and could be used for just making calls but they evolved over time to make what we see today.

  • Vinnie

    I absolutely would wear a smart watch and it really needn’t be all that smart. I don’t want to send messages or make phone calls with it, look at pictures or play music. I just want to see notifications, email headers and who is calling. Then I can decide if I need to get my phone out. I work in a noisy environment and will need the watch to vibrate as I frequently can’t hear the phone and many times miss the vibrate since I carry the phone in my shirt pocket. I’m sure there are a few more features that would be nice but simple basic features are all I am really interested in.

  • On a Clear Day

    When IS enough enough? I haven’t worn a watch in years – why? I have a smart phone that can tell me the time if I need it. It also performs every function on a screen that is actually readable rather than infinitesimally small as a smart watches screen would have to be – unless you want to wear something akin to those tasteless, huge monstrosities boys with no upbringing or taste tend to buy and proudly wear.

    It is really hard to come up with a break through idea that ends up hitting on all cylinders – like the smart phone, thus you see everyone desperately trying to suggest that this is actually an idea worth seriously considering.

  • 天 苍

    only need glass.watch smart watch all the out of time thing .who wear watchs any more ?

    • einhann

      since having smartphones I no longer need a mechanical wristwatch,
      that’s why I need smartwatch :)

      logically speaking, if I wear mechanical watch then I don’t need any smartwatch.. :)

  • williamworlde

    If I were to say how long “smart” watches have been around, I’d be giving away my age! Anyway, I had one of the original smart watches from the mind of Casio. You know the one: Analog display with the slim digital portion that served stopwatch, alarm, calculator, etc., functions.

    Give me a colour display smartwatch that has mapping and weather functionalities in addition to the above. Throw in news ALERTS only! Really important news. I don’t give a care about ANY celebrity unless like anyone else they’re making a useful contribution. With that in mind, give me cinemas and theatre listings. In other words, alike Flipboard, let me design my own information smartwatch after the basics of mapping and weather. Oh, I also want a messaging system, NOT Twitter; something generic. HRM and tripometer. Too much? NO ADVERTISEMENTS! If I have to pay for apps and enhanced functionality, I will.

  • Abbadabaddodoo

    I don’t wear watches, I never really have. I don’t like them, I don’t use them, and I’ve always told anybody who would ever get me a gift to stay away from them. I have my smartphone, and before that I had a flip phone. Before that, I was in college and clocks were everywhere.

    Would I use a smartwatch, though? It depends on how smart that watch is. As they stand, they’re nothing but a novelty, but if you were to include some medical equipment into the watch, I could get behind it. If a smartwatch could monitor my heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen saturation, body temperature, and blood sugar levels, then I’d all over them. We all should be, it could play an important roll in medical treatment and diagnosis.

    Of course, it’s nothing that couldn’t eventually be miniaturized, injected, and read with my smartphone over a secure wireless signal, so smartwatches will be short lived in my books.

  • jangeloracoma

    I actually prefer mechanical watches, and so I’d rather keep my digital device in my pocket.

  • imran

    is tomtom a smart watch. they are selling with thier sport activity calculations

  • Frank

    If it pairs with my smartphone, yes. If it requires a separate plan, no.

  • lil bit

    I will consider to try out a smartwatch. If the Sony one was cheaper i would already have one.

    Those of you who who use regular watches, why you dont like smart watches? I havent used a regular watch since the 90ies, carry a time telling device on my arm, wtf, whats it good for? Try to notice how many times a day you look at the watch when you didnt need to look, you may conclude as i once did, “i didnt really need to look even once”. A smartwatch will give you better reasons to look more often.

  • mjolnirxz

    Only if it improves the functionality of google glass somehow, but honestly not too sure about smartwatches

  • http://twitter.com/GHuenemoerder Greg Huenemoerder

    I could see myself using one of these pieces of tech jewelry only if it worked seamlessly with my phone, I could see myself using a smart watch for times that I can’t use my phone. For example, if I need Google navigation when I am biking on a busy road and can’t be consumed by my phone. Having something on my wrist would be great, I hope that something like this would be able to work perfectly in concert with my phone.

  • http://twitter.com/grundo2 ex

    i don t need a smartwatch but i need a wallet

  • blarelli

    If a watch can keep track of my pulse, and give me a somewhat accurate description of my caloric expenditure, and have basic music functionality, I would buy one.

  • APai

    following a pattern with Tvs we got : CRT > PLASMA > LCD > LED > 3D

    Phones: bricks > basic phone > flip > qwerty > touch > quad core/ gazillion MPs > …they’ve hit a wall, so now it’s going to be … > smartwatch > Glass > … ???

  • Alan Browne

    I stopped wearing watches a long time ago. Indeed I wore mine strapped to my jean belt loops. Ran it through the washer and dryer once too. Put the parts together and it was still working (but had gained some time…) (Timex of course).

    Like many, I use my iPhone as my time reference. Even have some geeky NTP apps so I know the time to the 10th of a second and it is RIGHTER than yours, and I can prove it //turn off shrill voice//.

    But sometimes my iPhone is upstairs and I’m downstairs. At night my iPhone is hard OFF. And that nightstand clock has got to be a minute, maybe 3 off! How can I sleep?! (Quite soundly, actually).

    But.

    I have a lot of little events going on all the time. Trades, messages with key people and I’m into all sorts of navigation problems. So the idea of an iThing to go on my wrist has some appeal if it connects to those things.

    1. Up to date with a glance. (messages/texts, e-mail titles/senders, stock ticker)
    2. Navigation: I can see the smartwatch as an excellent navigation display for walking, hiking* and maybe for driving.
    (* Problem with hiking is the phones don’t have very good GPS in them – too dependent on cell towers).
    3. Oh, and the time.

    Another commentator on a newspaper site, far, far away noted that a wrist display could be very socially awkward and offputting. Imagine every time it vibrates oh so gently, that you glance at it. Others around will think you don’t have the time for them. Very offputting.

    I look forward to them. The Pebble is a nice idea that just does not go far enough to light my jets. Apple are likely the very best to design such a thing – and if open to apps developers will likely result in many surprisingly useful apps. Android devices (Android linked devices) will also result in some interesting hookups to be sure.

    Bring it on. Let the market decide.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lance-Miller/100000716178532 Lance Miller

    Let’s see the OEM’s think we need a phone in our pocket, a tablet in our backpack, google glass on our head & a smart watch on our wrist. I’m trying to reduce my tech load, not increase it.

  • V-Phuc

    The title should be, “Do SMART consumers want a smartwatch?” The keyword is “smart” in front of “consumers”, not “watch”. I believe in the benefits of technology, etc. but along the way, I believe even more strongly that we as SMART CONSUMERS have to draw the lines somewhere. Don’t be like a dumb fish which bites worm, hook, and line! Smartwatch is just an absolutely DUMB idea that many companies now will try to suck out our hard-earned money. Almost everyone now (except me, probably!) has a smartphone which can do many things that many gadgets in the past fulfill. For instance, the car GPS, the camera, the yellow phonebook, the desktop to play video games, and TV to watch movies. Damn, it’s a pretty good device already, and the screen is getting bigger and bigger! What else do we want? Do we want to go back to this 0.5 inch screen of the smartwatch, squinting really hard trying to read what it displays?!!! Gotta be dumb, don’t you think?

  • Owen Lednor

    I think that having a Smartwatch would be a MASSIVE help to me and also i would enjoy tinkering with it etc. I would feel good about wearing something like the “Google Time” or even Sony’s Smartwatch BUT to me they need to be cheaper than the phone (around $100 would be nice), they need to look good and do what it is made for, be a companion device. But that is just me!!! I think certain people will find this more useful than others, some might even hate them but I think in the end it will all come down to :
    1. If you need it.
    2. If you want it.
    3. Will it become a fashion statement.
    I think that if so many big companies create one it will in the end become common day to see Smartwatches… The younger generations (including myself) will more than likely fall into the “It’s so cool” and “I have an iWatch and you have a Google Watch, you suck” phrases just like what happens with phones. SO these will more than likely come down to who wants them and when they get accepted as the norm because like most Technology it will at some point and also like most Technology it will have it’s Lover’s, Hater’s and Meh’ers.

    • V-Phuc

      “i would enjoy tinkering with it etc.”. Tinkering your smartphone isn’t enough for you, isn’t it? How about your tablet? Laptop? Desktop? LOL

      “they need to be cheaper than the phone (around $100 would be nice),”. How about $5 bucks, the day all these smartwatches got dumped out on the corner of the street since nobody wants it?!!! Can’t wait for that day to come!