The gadgets brains at Apple, Google and Microsoft and other innovators come up with these days seem like something out of Minority Report (or Dick Tracy). While we usually focus on marketing and digital innovation, we can’t help but appreciate advances in other areas of the tech world. One of the most innovative developments around today is the explosion of wearable tech, a phenomenon that has reached our shoes, shirts and now, our wrists. We want to focus on smartwatches because they can be, for the digital marketer, a legitimate expense (but an expensive investment, no less) as a valuable emerging communication device. If you want to learn why you should buy a smartwatch, and which ones to consider, keep reading!
Wearables, smartwatches in particular, are no longer in beta but the industry is still nascent
Remember those days a few years ago when the early adopter of your friends and colleagues showed off a watch that was capable of simple tasks such as calculation and translation? Those days are gone, and the smartwatches they were so excited about archaic. Now smart wearables can give your other digital tech a run for its money – literally. Almost all can talk to your mobile apps and a few, such as the Apple Watch and Android Gear devices, can run a polished mobile operating system, allowing you to receive and reply to text messages as well make and receive telephone calls. That means you have a small, lightweight companion to your smartphone and tablet — and it’s right on your wrist, at all times, for calls and emails (amongst other apps and functions).
So what smartwatches are out there, and what features do they have? We’ve collected a few of the options out there to show you just the tip of the iceberg.
Most major smartphone manufacturers from LG, Samsung, Sony, Motorola, Huawei and Apple all make smartwatches.
Sony makes the SmartBrand Talk, a thin, light and understated wearable that is just 1.4 inches across with a 296×128 pixel resolution. It has at least three days’ battery life, thanks in part to its small screen.
LG, like most of the manufacturers mentioned, makes several smartwatches, including the G Watch and G Watch R. The G watch is the earliest version, and therefore the least expensive (and, with its plastic band and square screen, least sleek). The G Watch R looks more like a traditional watch, and sports a 1.2GHz processor, a heart rate monitor (move over simple fitness tracker!) and a 9-axis accelerometer that also acts as a gyroscope and digital compass. However, those who also have LG phones find that using the watch helps extend the battery life of their phone, and each watch has a day or so of battery life.
Samsung’s premium offering, the Gear S, has curved design that help it mould to the wrist, making it a more comfortable accessory than some other smartwatches. It is also 3G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-enabled and has an improved 360×480 pixel screen.
Pebble’s newest addition to its product line, the Time, is an exciting move from a company whose devices run their new Time OS. It now, supports a colour display but as it still uses e-paper for it’s 1.25-inch screen, can last a full week on a single charge, not just the typical single day of useful life like the rest. It is mainly constructed from cheaper plastics and is far less sophisticated but is an interesting outlier in this space.
Finally, the Apple Watch. This piece of wearable tech is what brought the industry fully into the limelight, with many diehards though this watch would change the face of smartwatches (excuse the pun) forever. Having sold, in the few months it has been out, more than all smartwatches from all other manufactures managed in 2014, it seems Apple have succeeded in helping take wearable tech mainstream. It is, currently, exclusively compatible with iPhones and carries over much, but not all, functionality from iPhones, including the ability to make calls, send and receive texts and track fitness goals. There are presently, some limitations, principally requiring an iPhone to perform many of its signature functions but arguably in most areas it’s leading the pack such as its quality screen, top notch operating system and wider ecosystem integration and use of top quality materials and finish.
Smartwatches have a way to go to replace our smartphones, (if we even want that) but they are already starting a revolution on our wrists in how we receive and respond to communications, putting the power not in our hands, but on our wrists. This new era of immediate, continuous computing promises new solutions to make your life more streamlined and give you on-the-go flexibility and accessibility and judging by the fierce pace of iteration, there’s plenty to watch out for (again, sorry). If you are excited about this prospect, then give smartwatches a look.