Smartwatches have been the buzz for a while now and during my time in San Francisco this February I noticed a few of them on the wrists of some individuals I’ve come into contact with. I was only in the city for a weekend and didn’t explore it to much but I noticed two Moto 360s, a Samsung Gear 2, and two other smart watches that I couldn’t identify at a distance. This was a few months before the Apple Watch release and I did not see any Pebble watches.
This post will be divided into three sections: Android Wear in general, The Apple Watch, and Pebble.
For me, Android Wear as an OS takes the cake. It works seamlessly with Android phones (and more recently iOS devices) offering voice controls and a beautiful card style navigation. The drawback, however, comes with the types of devices that are capable of running the OS. While LCD or OLED displays are beautiful they do require a lot of power to operate. With such a small form-factor and current battery technology, the types of watches that run Android Wear just aren’t up to snuff.
When I use a smartwatch, I expect it to be a watch first and a smartphone companion second. If I have to manually wake up the watch to see what time it is, or have the battery die after a long day, I want no part of it. Call me old fashioned but I still wear a watch daily. Checking the time shouldn’t be an obvious motion as removing a phone from my pocket or blatantly tapping or turning my wrist to activate the display. I love nearly everything about Android Wear and the devices running it but the battery is a deal breaker.
With the recent release of the Apple Watch, the reviews are circulating. And the result? “Meh.” The Apple watch tried to be everything in one package. WiFi sensor, heart rate monitor, built-in speaker, and microphone make the Apple Watch thicker, and have less battery life. Another drawback, the watch is proprietary to Apple and can only pair with iOS devices.
The Apple Watch will likely return with a gen 2 version that will be leaps and bounds ahead of this model. Apple will likely listen to feedback from this model and re-prototype the second gen to include those features that customers want and exclude the rest.
“If the Apple Watch succeeds, it won’t be because it’s a better watch. It’ll succeed if it can create a new way for its users to be rude, exclusionary assholes.” – AWL
The Apple Watch will likely be a success because of the resounding customer loyalty and branding that goes with any Apple product. As for me, an Android user with a budget and high standards when it comes to reliability, customization and functionality, the Apple Watch is a definite “No!”.
Last summer I was tempted to buy the “Pebble Classic” as they are calling it now. But I was turned off by the black and white e-paper screen that reminded me of those calculator watches from the 80’s. What made me want one was the always on screen and week long battery life. With Pebble announcing its new Pebble Time smartwatch on Kickstarter this spring, I instantly jumped on the Pebble train.
The Pebble Time’s tagline “No Compromises” holds true. The full-color e-paper display is beautiful, low power, and daylight visible. The battery life is exceptional and the announcement of smart straps (interchangeable hardware straps that bring extra functionality to the Pebble Time) make the Pebble watch an excellent contender in the growing smartwatch market.
The Pebble Time meets all my criteria. It’s an always on display with 7 days battery life. It is extremely customizable. It is easy to develop for and design new watch faces. And I’m super excited to see what third-party developers will do with smart straps. I think that of all the smartwatch companies, Pebble is doing it right. They make a watch first and a smartphone accessory second.
For the dozens of times every day that I fish around in my pocket for my phone during the day, a smartwatch seems like a natural move away from the antiquated habit of removing my phone just to check for notifications. Plus, the added functionality like activity tracker and voice control make smartwatches a natural companion with any smartphone. Smartwatches are still in their infancy and are likely to change drastically in the c