Smart Watches: Do You Need One?

Smart watches, we’re being told, are the future of wearables, or at least the bridge technology that gets us from smartphones and tablets, to omnipotent refrigerators, televisions, and self-driving cars. Who knows?

Smart watches are undeniably cool, but when you look at what smart watches do in a practical sense, you have to start asking yourself if they really do anything you can’t do already, if they make your life any more convenient or if there is a single piece of game-changing technology that makes it worth dropping several hundred – or thousand – dollars.

Let’s take a closer look.

Device Compatibility

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Smart watches are available for just about any device you currently own. iOS and Android users both have a wide variety of watches available to them made by the likes of Apple, LG, Samsung, Sony and other mega-titans of the tech industry. In short, there are a ton of smart watches for men, and even more on the horizon.

Pebble, on the other hand, uses a proprietary OS (operating system), as does the Alcatel OneTouch. Both Pebble and the OneTouch report that they’ll work fine with either Android or iOS, but if you’re looking for seamless integration, it’s probably best to find a watch that’s made with your specific OS in mind. That said, there is a place for the outliers in the smart watch game, and the best uses of the Pebble’s of the world is probably for those that are device agnostic, or that don’t necessarily want a fully integrated experience.

For the rest of us, stick with the one that pairs best with your existing mobile devices.

Convenience

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This is where smart watches fall short. As the owner of an Apple Watch – and a dedicated Apple fanboy – I can tell you without a doubt that there is nothing that’s simpler to do on the Apple Watch than it is on my iPhone. Talking with friends and playing around with offerings from Pebble, and LG (for Android), I can tell you that this seems to be the case across the board.

For those of you that argue that answering a phone with your watch, or sending a text without removing your phone from a pocket is more convenient, I’d obviously disagree. The decidedly small screens on the current smart watch offerings negates any level of convenience, and while talking into your watch or attempting to hunt and peck at tiny numbers and letters certainly makes these tasks possible, that doesn’t mean they’re convenient, or offer any level of intuitiveness that your smartphone lacks.

There are two, count them two, things that I think are more convenient on a smart watch than on a mobile phone or accessory (Bluetooth headset, etc.).

  1. Seeing who is calling before I decide if it’s worth removing my phone from my pocket.
  2. Exercising

The first is less of a must-have, and more of a convenience item. The second, exercising, is where I feel the smart watch has found its niche. In fact, it’s where companies like Pebble got their start in touting all that a smart watch has to offer.

Stylishness

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I think we can all admit that if we’re rating watches on a level of fashionability, smart watches would be right up there with the 1980s Seiko your chemistry teacher was probably wearing well into the 2000s.

If you’re looking for a fashionable watch, there are far better solutions than a smart watch. While the Apple Watch, for example, might turn a few heads just due to perceived rarity, it’s not like anyone is lining up to buy them for the bling factor.

Game-Changing Features

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Please, find me one. There are some pretty cool features on smart watches these days, such as the aforementioned caller ID, or the ability to talk to it (and repeat, again and again) for everything from reminders to text messages and email, but there isn’t a single game-changing feature that would make me have to have it.

Am I wrong? Please, enlighten me in the comments below if you’ve found something that you just can’t live without on a smart watch that isn’t done better on a smart phone.

So, Do You Need One?

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Probably not.

The smart watch has a few key niches that it serves well, such as the exercise enthusiast, but for the majority of us it actually falls short at most of the stuff that your smart phone does pretty well already.

Additionally, it’s yet another device to charge and log around. Personally, I don’t see the need. If you must buy one because it’s cool, then please, by all means run out to the local Apple Store and grab one. However, if you’re one of the ones telling yourself it’ll make your life easier, then you’re going to be disappointed.

Photos: Getty