What we need is a free range smartwatch

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| August 9, 2014


Smartwatches are pretty big news these days. There’s hardly a day you can wake up and check out the tech section of any news website and not see something smartwatch related. As much as they’re talked about, though, I feel like that’s all they are; they’re not like smartphones where you see them both in the news and on the street. To this day I could count the number of people I’ve seen actually wearing smartwatches on one hand. Right now they’re all bark and no bite.


I’ve wondered for a while exactly how popular smartwatches would be able to get. It seems like they’ve been around forever, and realistically the idea has been around for quite awhile - it only seems to be catching on only recently. I’ve questioned in the past why smartwatches haven’t been that popular of a purchase. Is it the poor battery life, the lack of functionality, or perhaps too much functionality? Perhaps it’s a mix of all of these things, but at the end of the day I think it actually has a lot to do with the fact that most smartwatches are dependent on a smartphone in order to be used at its full potential. Despite the points that my fellow editor Evan pointed out recently, I believe this is the reason why people aren’t all that crazy about smartwatches in swarms.


The point of our gadgets these days is to help us unload on the amount of items we carry with us. Our smartphones alone are a good example of this. No longer do we have to carry around a phone, a camera, an mp3 player, and a pocket planner - our smartphones do all of these things for us. Heck, some of us even stopped wearing watches because out of force of habit we got entirely too used to whipping out our phones anytime the million dollar question of, “Hey man, what time is it?” was asked (even though practically speaking just flicking our wrist to check the time would be a lot easier, but who needs logic?). With the introduction of smartwatches, although handy in the sense that you could still “use” your smartphone without actually using your hands at all (therefore actually make it not handy, actually) there’s still the fact that it’s another gadget you have to worry about charging every night for use the next day.


This would probably be acceptable if you didn’t have to always worry about having your smartphone along with it.


Most smartwatches depend on a Bluetooth connection to your phone to work in all of its intended ways. All you need in order for your smartwatch to work is to make sure that: your smartwatch is charged, your smartphone is charged, and you have both of these gadgets within radius of each other at all times. Alright, so that’s not really a lot in order to make your biggest smartwatch dreams come true, but at the end of the day, if you somehow forget your smartwatch at home and you manage to grab your phone, your day will go along uninterrupted. If you remember to strap on your smartwatch and accidentally forget your smartphone at home, then you’re SOL. I mean, you have a swanky timepiece and all, but now you have no reason for it.


Even if you were to remember both, though, then you might still not be able to fully depend on your smartwatch for everything. A lot of smartwatches today are good for sending you notifications, but actually responding? Not many are able to help you in that department. A lot of the time, I still see smartwatches as glorified pagers... for phones that are usually right there in your pocket. But I’ve already mentioned this before.


So now I think that smartwatches need two things in order to make it big: they need to be able to receive and respond to texts and phone calls, and they also need to be able to work without being dependent on a smartphone. If this were to happen, then I think smartwatches have a real chance at becoming that new gadget that everybody has to have. Without, I don't think they're going to get anywhere. Given that the new Timex Ironman One GPS+ smartwatch is able to give users 3G data without a smartphone, I think that things might be heading in this direction sometime in the near future. Maybe Apple will give us a bite of something good?


Images via Good eReader, Mashable