Thought Repository

Uses for a Smart Watch


Lately smart watches have become a thing. These are watches you wear on your wrist that can do so much more than tell the time. Certainly they have more built-in processing than other watches, but what really separates them out is that they connect to other services, usually through your cell phone. This has gotten me excited because ever since I was a little kid I was always accidentally looking at my wrist for information that wouldn't be there, but now it could. I think I've always worn a watch, and I've gone through a lot. I've had calculator watches, diving watches, and I even have one right now with a GPS in it that I use for running. They say that watch usage is fading because now everyone carries a cell-phone that can tell the time. I can't imagine having to take my phone out of my pocket just to check the time, and I hope soon I won't have to take my phone out of my pocket to check a number of other things. It's really only a matter of time until I get a smart watch. The only thing really holding me back is deciding just which one to get.

There are watchbands for the iPod Nano, there's the WIMM One, Fossil Meta Watch, Sony Live View (now just Smart Watch), MotoActv, Pebble, and maybe some others I don't even remember. Some are expressive color LCDs or AMOLED, others are battery efficient and daylight-readable e-ink. Some have full capacitive touchscreen, others just have some number of buttons. If I'm going to be able to compare them, I thought I ought to list the different tasks I'm excited to do with a smart watch.

For starters, there's a lot of information I want to be able to check on my watch besides just the time. If it is connected to my phone for an internet connection, I want it to be able to show me how many waiting texts, IMs, and emails I have. It would be nice if I could actually read texts on it and at least see who IMs and emails are from. When I get a phone call, I'd like to be able to see the caller ID on the watch and be able to ignore the call from it (of course I'd have to take my phone out to answer it, I don't need a watch phone like Penny from Inspector Gadget). If I'm listening to music or podcasts on my phone, I want to be able to pause/unpause and skip to the next track from my watch. That's always been one of my biggest complaints with listening to music on my phone, is that I have to take it out and use a touchscreen to go to the next track. It would also be nice if the watch would show me what song is playing. I'm a little concerned about this because while I expect it to integrate well with the standard music app, I doubt out-of-the-box support for Rhapsody. I think there is global media key support on Android, so hopefully it will support that and at least be able to skip tracks. But it is also important for it to have a decent SDK and way of getting and installing apps for things they didn't think of. I think those are the most important new features. Of course I still want to be able to do the things I do with my current watch like tell time, use it as a stopwatch, and set short countdown timers. Sports and location functionality would be nice, like the ability to show time, distance, and speed like my running watch but using the phone's GPS. However, I don't think I absolutely need that because I still think I would mostly rely on my dedicated running watch for those tasks. I don't always want to take my phone running and I'm not sure how well the GPS would work from my pocket. Still, it might be nice for biking if it works since my bike hasn't worked in years. That raises the point that it'd need to be able to multitask such that I could have it doing the run/bike monitor and music song skipping at the same time.

Looking at the apps I actually use on my phone, that's really all I can think of for a smart watch right now. I'd been planning to write this for a while and now it's not much of a decision anymore since I already pre-ordered a Pebble via their Kickstarter (Kickstarter seem to raise the price which I will consider an impulse buy). However, it is still good to have the list. I can use it as a guide to setting up the Pebble to do what I want, and I will still keep track of new smart watches in case something better comes along.

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