24
Jun

Androidwear: Is it worth buying a smartwatch yet?

Having shipped the first batch of smartwatches to the UK, Google have made a statement of intent to its rivals by attempting to consolidate the smartwatch market amid confusion as to what the sector is trying to achieve.

Industry experts across the world are sceptical about the latest gadget, citing confusion between whether the wrist mounted device should be a phone or merely a gaming/accessory device.

So far, developers have had next to no access to the necessary software required to design and build apps for smart watches.

With limited downloadable apps, minimal publicised features, and watches just not being fashionable with people under 30, we ask the question: is it really worth buying a smartwatch just yet?

Overview

For those not in the know, a piece of Androidwear acts as a subordinate device to your smartphone. With its syncing settings, you can interact ‘at a glance’ with your smartwatch – which will automatically sync data with your phone in your pocket.

Android Wear can be used to reject phone calls, track fitness, accept voice commands, estimate journey times, schedule appointments and store travel plans.

A smartwatch acts merely as an extension of your phone – and it is thought that users will primarily use smartwatches to schedule meetings, track fitness, predict journey length, store travel records, and control what music your phone is playing.

Ease of use

Google’s main aim for Androidwear is to improve ease-of-use with your smartphone by providing users with the means of accessing the internet, making calls, and playing games by merely glancing at their wrist, instead of picking a phone out of a pocket or handbag.

Apps

Developers don’t yet have the means to develop apps specifically for smartwatches. Instead, smartwatch compatible apps that are downloaded on a synced smartphone are the only means of installing apps on your watch.

This in itself seems to be a flawed concept.

Back during the initial smartphone boom, it took developers a good 18 months before they were producing consistently high quality apps that functioned properly on smartphones. Initially developers were merely scaling down in size previously developed PC or computer console applications to fit a mobile screen. This is particularly relevant in the smartphone gaming sector.

Angry Birds was the first game that properly took off on mobile. Instead of scaling down games made for PC or computer consoles, Rovio focused on the limited functionalities of a mobile, and came up with a very simple game compared to that of its PC based predecessors –delivering an irresistible game for millions of people.

Angry Birds was released in late 2009, over 2 years after the first iPhone was released in the States in late 2007.

With smartwatches, Gaming developers have the challenge of producing decent games for a screen size of two inches as opposed to 5 inch screen phones - which the market has finally become acclimatised to.

This has led to a great deal of scepticism as to the quality of the gaming experience a user will get via a smartwatch.

Will the smartwatch replace the phone?

Even though Google Androidwear will hit the shelves in early July in the UK, whether technology/fashion accessory or eventual phone replacement, there is still a great deal of confusion as to what a smartwatch is.

With most people viewing the smartwatch as a companion to a smartphone, it is hard to see the future of the device going beyond more than just an optional extra instead of a mandatory piece of tech that everyone will require like a smartphone.

Until Google, Apple, and Windows allow businesses to develop apps and other technologies for smartwatches, these devices will offer an inferior experience to a phone even if they are more convenient.

The very limited screensize itself presents numerous usability issues which could alienate potential smartwatch buyers.

We don’t all have 20-20 vision. With a reduced screensize of over 50%, the 2 inch screen of a smartwatch is in danger irritating users with poor enough long vision not to be able to see the screen at a distance.

Because of its smaller screen, the touch screen buttons present on the device could well be too small to press accurately – particularly for people with larger hands – making dialling in a hurry particularly aggravating.

Of course, it remains to be seen as to the effectiveness of the smartwatch when it has a more worldwide release (currently Google is shipping its latest smartwatch devices to 12 countries including Germany, Japan, UK, and USA).

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