When Smartwatches started to appear in the market, not many people were thinking they’ll be wearing one in the near future. A few years later more and more people are looking for one and brands are taking advantage of this trend.
Nowadays, if you’ve decided to get one, choosing the right one is a tough decision. There are lots of different brands, operating systems, and features so before making the move there are important considerations to take into account.
We’ve tried to list the best smartwatches out there and list their main features in this buying guide. If after reading the guide you still have doubts,
What Is a Smartwatch?
A smartwatch is a wearable computing device that resembles a wristwatch. As a matter of fact, at a glance, the exterior design is more or less like that of a normal wrist watch. But in addition to being able to keep and tell time, many of the smartwatches available on the market today support more features and capabilities. There are those that are Bluetooth enabled and those that have Wi-Fi technology and others still feature the latest NFC technology.
With these technologies, these smartwatches become adaptors capable of extending capabilities of the wearer’s smartphone onto their watch. In such cases, the watch can be used to either answer calls, read texts and emails, listen to music, get weather reports, and reply to texts or email via dictation.
There are, however, other smartwatches that are standalone devices and are more purpose specific. For instance, there are those that are perfect for collecting data about the health of the wearer and those that use their GPS abilities to provide crucial data that can aid in keeping the wearer in check health wise. Some watches, courtesy of their inbuilt apps still go a step further to gather and track data about the wearer’s heart rate and provide the wearer with driving and walking directions. With in-built apps to track physical activity, some double up as fitness trackers.
Will Any Smartwatch Work With My Smartphone?
Unfortunately, No. Different smartwatches as we shall soon see are developed to run on different mobile phone platforms which include Android, AsteroidOS, Sailfish OS, WatchOS, Ubuntu Touch and Tizen. Compatibility of a smartwatch with your phone will depend on the OS running on the phone.
That said, it is also worth noting that there are some smartwatches as well that are only compatible with certain specific smartphones and not just the OS. For instance, the Samsung Galaxy Gear will only work with Samsung phones which include the Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy S4.
Blurred lines: Fitness Tracker vs. Smartwatch
When this technology first made its debut in the world, the differences between the two were world apart. Today, however, the functionality and use of these two pieces of tech are converging. Fitness trackers were designed to be just that – gadgets to track users’ fitness. They have, however, evolved into telling time and pushing notifications from our smartphones. But even as that is the case, most fitness trackers do not need to be synched to smartphones to carry out their function.
Smartwatches on the other hand were designed to complement smartphones. They have, however, progressed into being able to keep track of elements including the heart rate and distance walked courtesy of technology apps and hardware they come in-built with.
So yes, fitness trackers and smartwatches are different. But in the recent past with more and more units turning out to be the exception to the general rule, the line differentiating the two products is become more and more blurry.
Just How Smart Are Smartwatches?
Truth to be told, the word smartwatch can be quite misleading. As you might have noticed, these devices are actually not the brain behind all magic that take place on your wrist. Sure they are smarter than the average watches but their brain power is not on the wrist. Advanced smartwatch functions are delivered and made possible by pairing to smartphones courtesy of pairing technologies including Bluetooth, WI-Fi and NFC. The smartphone then makes use of the small screen on the smartwatch to deliver all controls and notifications as earlier stated.
While these technologies broaden the scope of what smartwatches can do, the inference is that you have to own a smartphone to use them as they are designed to complement them. You also have to carry both of them with you but since they connect wirelessly, you will not have to take your smartphone from your pocket or bag.
Are There Games and Apps for Smartwatches?
Software developers, both young and old, pros and novices, the same ones who make apps and games for smartphones are looking for more creative ways to incorporate apps and games into smartwatches specifically. Given the mode of operation of the smartwatches, there will be two types of apps and games developed; those that run on smartphones and can be connected to be run on the smartwatches and those that run directly on the smartwatches.
The latter type will be basic given that smartwatches are lacking in processing power and do not have the hardware nor the features and controls that a smartphone has.
Types of Smartwatches Available
This is most important when it comes to the compatibility of the smartwatch for men with other devices. Both smartphones and smartwatches are expensive gadgets and in the event they cannot communicate, it could result in money lost. These smartwatch types include:
Android Wear smartwatches
Many of the manufacturers are adopting the android operating system found on most smartphones called the android wear. These have recently been developed by Google and are fast growing with regard to functionality.
The android wear watches are more compatible with android smartphones and will remain to be so for the foreseeable future. This makes them a great option if you wish to replace your smartphone and retain your smartwatch.
Apple has quite some variations. Given their design and outlook, they are more cosmetic than other products. However, the actual smartphone hardware is the same all through the models and is compatible with many of the iPhones. It has not yet been known how autonomous the Apple watch will be in the end with the fast paced releases of the iPhones. But be it as it may, bear in mind that the watch will not be compatible with your android devices.
They have a few smartwatches on the market. They have been built to run on the android platform and will be compatible with all Android smartphones. They also are waterproof and have fast NFC abilities for fast and easy pairing with smartphones.
There are several versions of this Galaxy Gear Smartwatch for women and they make use of different Operating systems. They are however mostly compatible with android smartphones though there are certain limitations depending on the model. There are some that will only make use of all the features when tethered to a Samsung phone and others use android compatible systems.
Pros and Cons of Having a Smartwatch
Let us get right into it.
Hands-Free User Experience
Smartwatches will allow you to receive and with some even reply to messages and pick calls while your hands remain free for use to complete other tasks. The whole point is that they are far less distracting and convenient since you will not have to dig deep into your pocket to read an email or text every time you feel your smartphone ring or vibrate. With the smartwatch, you can easily tell what is important and what is not thus reducing the hassle of getting your phone out every so often.
Many smartwatches debuting in the market have the ability to retrieve varying physiological parameters for the wearer. The data collected is used as a starting point to improving your health and fitness levels. The gadgets are making big ripples in the health sector since it allows persons to be more aware of their vitals so that they can act accordingly thereby helping nip health problems at the bud.
Personal assistant on the wrist
These gadgets simplify daily functions. The general idea is that the gadget will analyze the data as well as the crucial information and will make it available at your disposal. The simplification of daily functions will dramatically make you more productive as well as efficient
The Gateway to the Internet of Things
These will in the long run, if they are not already, play a huge role in the greater Internet of things Vision. The idea of the connected devices is made all the more realistic and necessary since individuals have personal assistants on their wrists that are also able to interact with the immediate environment. As personal assistants, they will be in a position to remotely control other devices and will as such become more essential.
One of the major complaints users of smartphones have is with the accuracy of the physiological measurements provided by the gadgets. Smartwatches were not specifically designed to provide such data. Over time however, they have been equipped with such features and it seems they have not been able to accurately retrieve the data. Their sensors need to be accurately positioned for a better data collection and analysis.
The development of smartwatches dates back to the early 1990s. However, tech gurus agree that it was not until 2016 that the first proper working smartwatch was designed. As such, this is a relatively new industry. Therefore, there have been lots of usability drawbacks. It may be as a result of lack of comfort or that the UX is just not right. But looking at how far these gadgets have come, it is only fair to conclude that these minor setbacks will be successfully fixed if they haven’t been fixed already.
Extending the life of a smartwatch is proving to be a hard nut to crack for OEMs. And while they provide a more natural charging solution, they do not last as long. With every new release, however, this issue is being addressed and they are now lasting for longer times.
If you still have doubts about what smartwatch will be the best fit for you, let us know in the comment section below