Here's hoping that Google gets the smartwatch rightAnna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
Smartwatches are slowly but surely becoming more of a recognizable device now-a-days. 2012 was the first year where we really saw the idea takeoff with the Sony and Pebble smartwatches, although Pebble had the only smartwatch that really walked away with any positive reviews. The Sony Smartwatch was not so well-received, which is possibly why a second generation smartwatch, the Sony Smartwatch 2, made its debut this year. Along with the new Sony Smartwatch, we have also seen the new Qualcomm Toq and, more notably, the Samsung Galaxy Gear. While we now have 4 major contenders in the smartwatch industry, the reception of the device is still iffy as manufacturers tweak and adjust certain features to figure out what it is that would make customers want to use a smartwatch as a smartphone companion.
Recent news tells us that we may have a new smartwatch to look forward to sometime within the next month or so. That device is a smartwatch by Google, codenamed 'Gem', and is rumored for possible release alongside the next generation Nexus smartphone, the Nexus 10 and Android 4.4 (KitKat) sometime this month. However, it's worth noting that this is a very loose piece of information that comes from a quip on Google+ by Artem Russakovskii of Android Police, and is an unpublished tidbit of information as there is no visual proof. But is it really that farfetched of an idea? Not at all, and I'm really hoping they do.
I predict that smartwatches could eventually be very important to us, especially considering wearable technology seems to be a rising trend. Wearable tech is, at this point, innovative, useful and convenient. But considering that smartwatches are still rather primal when it comes to being able to offer exactly what we want to see in them, it doesn't surprise me that the idea hasn't exactly caught on yet. It needs to have the perfect mix of just the right functionality and, more importantly, good battery life. So far it seems that you either get one or the other. People want both.
So I'm hoping that Google is, at the very least, able to take at least one step forward in the smartwatch industry and create a product that's affordable, functional and has good battery life. And maybe that's asking for too much at this point, but I figure if anybody is going to be able to pull that off, it's probably going to be Google.
I had high hopes for Samsung's Galaxy Gear smartwatch once rumor started spreading about its announcement over IFA 2013 last month. As it turns out, the Galaxy Gear smartwatch addressed one of my biggest issues that I had with smartwatches that had been released up until that point, and that was being unable to answer or make voice calls directly from the smartwatch itself. Although a bit awkward at first due to the fact that nobody really does it, I figured that conversation via smartwatch would evolve just like the Bluetooth headset or any other strange, foreign device introduced to us in order to make voice calls; it would take some getting used to in order for the idea to be acceptable rather than strange. In all actuality, I think I'm one of the few that didn't think Samsung did too shabby of a job on the device itself, other than the fact that so many features inevitably kills the battery life within a day. As far as I know, nobody really seemed too excited about the idea that not only will you be charging your phone just about every night, but now you have to charge your watch, too.
And there's that swift kick in the wallet that Samsung gives you if you decide to purchase the Galaxy Gear - $299, which is the same price that the Nexus 4 was selling for. That's a little ridiculous.
But if Google makes a smartwatch, I think they might be able to hit the nail on the head. Or, at least get somewhere close to it. I mean really, only two things need to be addressed from the mistakes of the Galaxy Gear, and that's longer battery life and price. Price is something that I have very little concern about when it comes to a Google smartwatch - if the Nexus 5 is anything like the Nexus 4 and is still less costly, I imagine they wouldn't price the smartwatch that closely with their phone. As for battery life, I mean, shoot - even making it last 3-4 days is acceptable in my book. But the whole having to charge it every night thing that Samsung went for just wasn't doing it for me. I need a watch to be dependable, and being dependable includes making it throught the day, preferrably two, without worry that it's going to die on me.
Time will tell whether this rumor is real or not, but I will admit that I am a little more hopeful than I should be for Google to unveil a smartwatch of their own. Readers, what are your thoughts on the subject? Are you hoping to see a Google smartwatch? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
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