It was only a matter of time before people decided they’d rather wear a smartphone than put one in their pocket. Sure, there’s Google Glass, but people (and dogs) look pretty silly wearing those. Eventually, smart technology will be implanted into us so we never have to go without, but in the interim, putting those features into a wristwatch makes a lot of sense.
I’ll admit it, I love the commercial — the skipping back and forth between “real” people and their fictional counterparts adds a whimsy that prevents Samsung from seeming too full of themselves. I mean, David Hasselhoff’s got a smartwatch — that in itself is a huge selling point. In Germany.
Samsung has just released Galaxy Gear, a smartwatch that pairs with their new Galaxy Note 3 smartphone. The $299 device allows users to receive messages and calls, to make calls, to take photos and capture video, and to run apps. The watch is essentially a wearable shortcut to the smartphone, and one has to figure that soon enough, the watch will make the phone obsolete. That is, if it works.
Samsung’s phone has gotten some pretty rough reviews, however, with most experts saying that it’s not worth buying “yet,” and that perhaps people should wait until the next generation of smartwatches before forking over the cash. Reviewers commented that the watch was basically a bulky smartphone accessory. It’s not autonomous — it relies on the phone (and only the Galaxy Note 3 phone) — and right now its wearability is actually a problem, making it less convenient for many reviewers than a smartphone. It also only displays call or text notification, not email, social network, or other notifications. Its camera got good reviews, as did its ability to respond to voice commands, which is particularly important given that the touch-screen is too small for a keyboard. Reviewers also noted that its battery doesn’t last very long, but on the upside, it’s pretty tough to scratch and is resistant to water. Ironic that such a device would be hardy, whereas our more useful devices tend to be a bit more fragile. Yes, Apple products, I’m looking at you.
Samsung’s phone isn’t the first or only smartwatch — Sony’s got one that works with Android smartphones, and thus far the Pebble phone is getting the best reviews of all. Pebble arrived on the scene after a successful Kickstarter campaign that drew 85,000 backers. It’s a Bluetooth smartphone that works with Android and iOS devices, and there are many available apps. It’s also waterproof and has a longer battery life than the Gear, but doesn’t have a camera. And at $150, it’s half as expensive as Samsung’s.
I find it interesting that most people use their phones to tell time and now the device we used to tell time can be used as a phone. I’d trade them both for a robot, even if the only thing it could do was pour beer.