Just another screen?

There’s been a whole lot of talk about smart watches the last few years and with Apple Watch finally entering the market, the tech industry has clearly put some action behind the words. But will consumers buy? I talked a little about this on Aftonbladet Morgon a while back (in Swedish though) and will take this opportunity to elaborate a little more since I’ve now been using an Android Wear watch for a year.

In one way, this early generation of smart watches has three main use cases. Health apps, using sensors like gyroscope and pulse meters to track health and activities. Which is nice but I think we still have a lot more to look forward to here (battery life also limits the usefulness). Second use case would be the “second screen”, surfacing information from your phone, whether it’s your next navigation instruction, calendar appointment or active notifications. This is actually what I tend to use the most. I can more easily dismiss notifications that are less urgent without taking up my phone, and let’s be honest, risk getting a little bit stuck in my Instagram feed. The same goes for info I get from Google Now, weather, travel times etcetera. A small convenience factor but I really like it in all its simplicity. Warning though, you’re not the least more polite when you keep glancing at your watch instead of at your phone. Douchy behavior is douchy no matter what technology you use. The last use case is what I’d say holds a lot of promise, but doesn’t do that much for me today, and that is actually letting the watch run its own apps. Apple watch has some browsing, I do use some voice search for things I know have one single answer (e.g. how old is Barack Obama?) and I don’t think I’ve set a single reminder or timer on my phone since October, almost. But today that is very basic functionality and so far I’ve not been tempted at all to read more than a news flash on that small screen.

So that’s my usage, but will people outside of gee, oh tech enthusiasts buy them? I’d say we’re getting there. The models available now don’t do enough, costs too much, and battery life is too poor for people who don’t put extra value on being first (though, judging by comments on YouTube and Instagram a lot of people seem to like being first ;) As it is right now, most customers will get almost as much out of a health band like fitbit or jawbone for way less money.

For the curious, I’m now using a Moto360, first was a LG G Watch.