It’s not a coincidence that I’m posting this just a day after the Apple Watch event. The tech companies and press have been saying wearable devices will be hugely successful. Google’s been working hard to make & promote it’s Android Wear platform (that’s essentially Android optimised for a tiny screen) & Apple just pushed out more news on it’s Apple Watch, including the April 24th release date. So, let’s just – for one glorious moment – put aside the fact that I’m running on a student budget and say I’ve got money in the bank. Today I’m posing myself the question: Will I buy a smartwatch?
Both Apple & Google’s versions offer the same basic features: playing music, making notes, setting reminders, social notifications, checking weather, voice-activated commands & searches and (obviously) providing the time. This is all basic stuff.
Now let’s go through some of the more advanced features currently or nearly available:
- Order a taxi from Uber, GetTaxi, Lyft et cetera
- Make contactless payments in stores, cafes, on public transport etc with Apple Pay, PayPal or Google Wallet
- Digital boarding passes & flight updates with American Airlines, Delta etc (expect other airlines to follow suit)
- Use your watch as your car key (lock, unlock, start engine, locate, turn headlights on etc)
- Control appliances in your home: turn lights on with Philips Hue, control heating with a Nest Smart Thermostat, check security cameras with IP Cam Viewer
- Use your watch as the key to your hotel room with Starwood Hotels & Resorts (expect other hotel chains to follow suit)
- Find the name & artist information of a currently playing song using Shazam or Google Now
Now, these are all fantastic features, but I just keep reminding myself that I can already do every single one of them on my smartphone. I paid a good chunk of money (£350, excluding calls/texts/data) to get my phone, if you have a higher end Samsung, HTC, LG or even an iPhone you paid an even bigger chunk of money to get that. I’m not going to pay another chunk of money on top of that to use my smartphone less and decrease the value I get out of it.
Those prices, by the way, are usually between £150-£200 for a decent Android Wear device and £300 to *gulp* £8,000 for the Apple Watch. How, so very, Apple. For readers from the US the prices are roughly $200-$300 and $350-$10,000 respectively.
Nope. I’m still not over it. £8,000. £8,000 for a device that will go out of date within two years. Yes, okay, that’s an exception but even still you’re likely to shed out a couple hundred to get a type of device that’s only just finding its’ place in the market. This is the start; the manufacturers and app developers aren’t even fully aware of the potential yet. Loads of changes are going to be made and these first editions are going to become history before the year’s out. Yes, people need to buy a smartwatch in order for companies to see their potential and thus increase their abilities – this is a two way street – but it seems like a silly idea to me that somebody would spend that much money on a device which can only do the same things that their phone can do already.
Especially when the experience, I would assume, is a lot better on a smartphone or tablet for most things. Think about reading the news, a long Facebook post or a blog on pratters.com/blog *ahem* – doing that on a tiny screen just isn’t going to be pleasant, nor is writing out a text or Tweet. Yes, you can use your voice to type essentially, but this technology isn’t 100% accurate. Add in that auto-correct and the fact that you can’t type on such a small screen and it’ll drive you ducking insane.
On the Apple Watch you can send your loved ones notifications which vibrates their wrist and displays a cute heart-beating animation. Eugh… what’s that? I think I just felt a little bit of vomit come up.
Jokes aside, I do think that smartwatches have potential. Especially, in more personal areas such as health and fitness. Google & Apple are really trying to push these areas because they’re huge selling points; we’re health conscious. Thing is, I’m just not interested and quite a lot of people who are interested would rather spend below £100 on a Fitbit health tracker which syncs with their phone via an app.
I don’t know what the future holds, but having a device with so many sensors and water/shockproof abilities attached to our wrists (almost) 24/7 must throw up all kinds of possibilities. One day, the possibilities will become a reality and that’s when smartwatches will have enough functionality to become a purchase worth my hard-earned cash, but until then they’re just another device to put on charge at the end of the day, so in the words of Deborah Meaden and her Dragon’s Den co-stars, “I’m out” (for now).
Image Credit: By LGEPR [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons