We all live in the attention economy. Our eyeballs, swipes, likes, and shares are the currency that drive that economy. Yet, as technology progresses, we somehow have less time than we had before. Yes, tech makes things easier, better, and more instantaneous, but it also saps the most precious resource we have: time. Let me tell you about my favorite smartwatch right now – the Huawei Watch GT 2 – and why I like it.
Because it’s not that smart.
I had the original Huawei Watch GT and I loved it. Despite being laggy, it struck a great balance between convenience and interruption. It handled only the very basic smartwatch stuff – fitness tracking, heart rate monitoring, minimal notifications, weather, and so on – but it didn’t bombard me with everything my phone does.
For a regular smartwatch user, the Watch GT felt like going cold turkey. Not only did it not do much, it couldn’t do much. The Watch GT 2 is the same, even though it has had some notable upgrades. But those upgrades aren’t about sucking up more of your time. The speaker means you can take calls without taking your phone out of your pocket. The UI is faster and more fluid. Music playback means you can go for a run with headphones on and leave your phone behind. I love this, but as you know, it’s hardly new. Lots of other watches do this and more. I like the Watch GT 2 specifically because it doesn’t do much else.
I wanted the most feature-packed watch I could find when I first got into smartwatches. Not anymore.
Some might say having a smartwatch exacerbates the problem I described above, but for me it’s the opposite. I wanted the most feature-packed watch I could find when I first got into smartwatches. But I found the insistent intrusiveness of the experience frustrating. Every time it vibrated, I looked. It got so annoying that I found myself disabling most features just to get some peace. Distraction trumped convenience and eventually I just stopped wearing them altogether.
These days, I don’t want my watch to be so complex, so persistent, that it becomes a small phone I can’t put away. Every time I take my phone out of my pocket I’ve lost a battle with time. I unlock it to check a notification and before I know it I’ve lost a half hour. This is why I like watches again: because there’s far less to get caught up in. You can check what you need to and get back to what you were doing.
Smartwatches actually run counter to the attention economy when used in a certain way.
Smartwatches actually run counter to the attention economy when used in a certain way. They allow you to reclaim some time, not waste it. I can get the basics done with a watch — check the time, see my step count, look at the weather, answer a call — and not get sucked into the vortex. You usually don’t even have to interact with the watch to see all this, so there’s no risk of getting sucked in. And if you do start jabbing at it with your finger, there’s only so much you can do. Getting lost in the Watch GT 2 simply does not happen. For someone with a distraction addiction, it’s like forced detox.
I get why the vast majority of people won’t like the Watch GT 2, or appreciate what I value most about it. For me at least, the Watch GT 2 has enough features to be useful but not too many to be annoying. When your days are awash with distractions, being able to exert even a little control feels like a win. Sometimes, the best way to be smart is actually to be a little dumb.