With last month's release of the new Apple smartwatch (with cellular functionality, i.e. "disconnected"), the tech world is buzzing about how a disconnected watch will revolutionize our day-to-day lives. Has Apple invented a wearable that is able to draw some of our attention away from our phones? While there hasn't been enough time for mainstream adoption, there seems to be a different level of excitement around this new device, and others like it, that makes us here at SimpleCommands confident that this isn't just 2017's version of the Bluetooth headset.
Despite the $400 price tag people have already lined up to buy these devices, with delivery delays up to four weeks in some areas of the country. At the moment these devices can only act as a supplement to smartphones, as cellular providers require you to have a plan before activating their cellular capabilities, but if/when smartwatches become more pervasive vendors and telecom companies may eliminate this requirement all together. Further adoption requires some of the claims surrounding these products to come true, some of which already have (at least for those who have a disconnected smartwatch)!
Many already view wearables as gimmicky and too expensive (thinking of you, Google Glass). And smartwatches have been around for years, so why is this really any different? The biggest and most obvious difference is a disconnected wearable can liberate you from your phone. You can complete the quick and easy tasks with just a few taps on your wrist as opposed to going through the slightly more time consuming process on your phone. Your fear of missing out or missing something can be quelled because in the event of an emergency, you will still be notified and you can respond just as quickly. Obviously the constant connectedness phones provide has yielded countless improvements in our lives, but most of us could afford to separate ourselves from our phones every once in a while and decompress.
Others may view the functionality of wearables as redundant. Why spend money on a watch that can do some of the things your phone does on a smaller screen that's not as user-friendly? Time will tell if this school of thought will win out, but this concern raises an important question everyone should ask themselves about the usability of their wearables: "Am I consistently using the wearable instead of my phone for specific tasks?" If yes, then the wearable is doing its job. The rise of wearables (not just watches), bots, and virtual assistants, if managed well, could lessen our need for smartphones in the future. They could make our connectedness more customized to our preferences due to a greater number of devices working for us, and blend more subtly into our surroundings. This distributed network of devices will allow us to not depend on a single device for so many tasks, so it will be less of a hassle when one piece of the whole system breaks. The imagination (and reality) around wearables has come a long way since Darth Maul's wrist band (that seemingly only controlled his droids), and it will continue to improve until wearables are as seamless and ubiquitous as smartphones are today.