Smartwatches are edging their way further and further into the world’s conscious, with new products entering the market all the time and the media’s attention fixed on the next break in new tech. A common question raised when pondering a foray into the wearables market is quite simply “what does a smartwatch actually do?”
Well, it’s your lucky day, here is a surface-scratching guide to smartwatch functionality, it uses and why you might want one.
A Watch- But Better
Traditional timepieces just seem so outdated these days. If you want more for your money that just something that tells the time, smartwatches are a great solution. Of course, smartwatches do predominantly keep you informed of the current time, but with the added capabilities for customisation and personalisation.
Smartwatches comes with a variety of different faces, from traditional stylish analogue dials, to more modern and outlandish digital options. Featuring a number of different designs, you can pick a face you like and just get a new one when you get bored of it. With changeable straps, including causal, formal and sporty, you can mix and match your face and strap combos to fit any context.
The constant barrage of notifications we receive to our smartphones can become more than a little annoying. Reaching in and out of your pocket is fiddily and awkward when you’re trying to go about your day. A smartwatch can step into the void and become a mirror for your smartphone. Each and every notification fed to your smartphone is immediately beamed up to your wrist, connected via Bluetooth.
This feature isn’t exclusive to just social media updates and phone calls. Smartwatches will provide you with updates on pretty much anything your smartphone ordinarily would. On Android Wear for example, weather updates and the latest sports scores are amongst the information provided via Google Now.
View WhatsApp/ texts
Of course, that also means that you’ll be informed of any incoming text messages and WhatsApp notifications. You can even read the messages as they come in on your smartwatch, then open the app on your smartphone through the tech on your wrist. Similarly, incoming calls register on your smartwatch’s display, and you can even answer or reject the call using the touchscreen.
Android Wear devices use the power of Google Now to allow you to bark orders at your watch via voice commands. Using the inbuilt mic, you can command your smartwatch to use Google search, direct you to the nearest petrol station, set a timer for half an hour, and a whole load of other stuff.
Breaking away from the smartphone, your smartwatch is also a handy tool for going about your everyday business. You’ll never ‘forget’ to go on that morning run again, with your smartwatch vibrating to remind you it’s time to pull on those running shorts. Similarly, you can take notes so you don’t forget that brilliant idea you cooked up earlier in the day.
Plus, Android Wear will sync your daily schedule from your smartphone at the beginning of each day. You can check your agenda for meetings and events scheduled for the day, and get a pleasant reminder when one is coming up.
Use the GPS
A number of smartwatch devices have onboard GPS, a tool which can prove incredibly useful for a number of areas. One of which is navigation. Instruct your watch to take you to the nearest supermarket, and watch Google maps do its thing. GPS can also a hugely effective for the fitness-centric user. A smartwatch with GPS will track your morning run so you can monitor your progress (or lack thereof).
Plus, onboard GPS means no secondary device is required. The smartphone is an unnecessary extra when on your workout, a convenience of no small significance for regular runners.
Functional Fitness Features
Aside from the flagship GPS feature, smartwatches also double up as handy fitness-tracking devices. Smartwatches will record your daily activities with hardware such as a pedometer, counting all the steps you make in a day and an accelerometer, which measures which measures the velocity of your activities. Using a fitness-tracking app (Android Wear devices comes with Google Fit), you can set daily fitness goals and let your watch keep tabs on how long your active you are, how many calories you’ve burned and distance covered in each day.
A Music Player
Some Android Wear smartwatches (such as the Sony Smartwatch 3) come with an allocation of inbuilt storage, allowing you to load your own music onto the device. Coupled with a pair of Bluetooth connected headphones, you can embark on your evening run or stroll out with the dog and still listen to all your favourite tunes. All done without the unnecessary burden of carrying your smartphone around in your pocket.
The Battery Saver
Embracing the full functionality of your smartwatch lifts the heavy burden you once had on your smartphone. For that, you’re rewarded with a vital extension to your smartphone’s battery life. Keeping it in your pocket or bag means that battery-sapping use can come to an end. Never again will you be left infuriated by your phone’s inability to see you through an entire day.
It’s not just the hardware developers that are getting on board with smartwatches either- app developers are swelling the amount of software available on the Android Wear market. Recent additions come from Shazam, Foursquare, Hotel.com and Lyft. Each will keep adding an extra layer of functionality to your smartwatch device, and keep giving you another reason to go out and get yourself one.