back to article Smartwatches: I hate to say ‘I told you so’. But I told you so.

If you work in software, I’ll bet you worked on a project like this. It’s where dozens, or even hundreds of people are involved in the spec process, and what tumbles out is a monster that nobody ever wanted. The IA-432 processor, Intel’s first pre-Itanic disaster, was a classic example. It was a tabula rasa, and every …

  1. AMBxx Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    MS Band

    Not the most fashionable design, but MS seem to be taking an interesting route for activity/outdoors stuff with notifications from your phone.

    Latest addition to the software is 'Hiking' which neatly changes the 'Running' option to work better with longer duration.

    Could do without it nagging me about UV exposure, but I'll get round to turning that off.

    As with all these things, there are specific use cases where they're very useful. Just a case of picking the one that suits you.

    1. Mike Taylor

      Re: MS Band

      I could use a 'gardening' option on my band. Otherwise, I use it and I like it.

      1. djack

        Re: MS Band

        If there was a 'get someone else to do the gardening' option, I'd buy one right now.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: MS Band

          I have sometimes observed that people who are genuinely busy, quite often have a lot of pretty paving stones and fine gravel in their garden .... with one or two trees or shrubs ... and possibly a nice wooden bench on a patio as well ;)

    2. Steve Channell
      Pint

      Re: MS Band

      My Microsoft Band Work, just dandy, the battery last day; it monitors my heart. It reminds me right thing to do exercise and how hard I work and full of stuff like that, but most importantly for me the killer application is its got an alarm clock that doesn't wake my wife up when I have to get up much earlier than she does.

      Responding to messages with a "I'm in meeting" just using your nose (for pointer) appears surprisingly professional when you've actually recycling a vast quantity of lager... But unlikely to appear in any adverts

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: MS Band

        I still can't see it being of much use to most people.

        I can take my heart rate with my phone if I want to but unless you're in the 1% who take sport very seriously having a heart monitoring watch is not much more than a novelty...... and it's probably not accurate enough for that anyway.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: MS Band

            Sir - I believe you have found the killer app and should notify Apple at once.

      2. boltar Silver badge

        Re: MS Band

        "My Microsoft Band Work, just dandy, the battery last day; "

        Wow, a whole day. Good thing I was sitting down!

        Anyone remember when Casio et al were advertising digital watches with a 10 *YEAR* battery life? Match that smartwatch manufacturers.

        1. Steve Channell
          Unhappy

          Re: MS Band

          sorry, that's days...most I've got is three days, but it does fully recharge while I'm in the shower

          1. macjules Silver badge

            Re: MS Band

            sorry, that's days...most I've got is three days, but it does fully recharge while I'm in the shower

            Would that be due to the famous Sekonda/Rolex 'wrist action'?

        2. Sporkinum

          Re: MS Band

          25 year old Casio G-Shock on 4th battery. Have a hard time selling me a watch that I need to charge all the time and can't abuse without worrying.

        3. lawndart

          Re: MS Band

          "Anyone remember when Casio et al were advertising digital watches with a 10 *YEAR* battery life? Match that smartwatch manufacturers."

          I have one of those Casios on my wrist. The only problem I find is the straps only seem to last two years, then it is a right royal pain trying to get another because, although they all look very similar, apparently nothing else fits.

          1. cosymart
            Facepalm

            Re: MS Band

            I have 2 watches, neither of which ever need winding or charging. Why should I or anyone take a considerable number of backward steps?

            1. AdamWill

              Re: MS Band

              I'm not a huge smartwatch fan (I bought a Pebble, it was kind of neat, it stopped working properly, I never felt at all like buying another) but that's just stupid logic. Similarly we all used to have fairly robust cellphones with two week battery lives...because all they could do was make phone calls and send text messages really painfully and maaaybe, if you were lucky, play Snake. There's a small core of people who've decided that's all they want from a cellphone and who still use similar devices, and more power to them. But far far more people use relatively fragile and short-battery-lived modern smartphones, and they don't do this because they're stupid or sheep, they do it because they want to use all the capabilities they get *in exchange* for the relative fragility and short battery life.

              Similarly it's stupid to argue that smartwatches have to have the same longevity as regular watches in order for anyone to want them, because if they can provide sufficient useful capabilities in exchange for the complexity and charging, then sensible people will make sensible choices to buy them. The problem so far is that they haven't.

              1. fiatlux

                Re: MS Band

                I totally agree. Applying the article logic to phones would mean that smartphones would never have been successful. It took a long while (I had an early Windows Mobile phone which was terrible), but it eventually became commodity. I would not burry smart watches yet.

        4. energystar
          Headmaster

          Re: MS Band

          " digital watches with a 10 *YEAR* battery life?"

          well those things where -actually- WATCHES.

          1. 68K

            Re: MS Band

            Exactly. Silicon to provide digital watch functionality and powering an LCD don't take that much power. You're never(*) going to get a smartwatch that consumes comparable amounts of power. They do a lot more, and so require more juice: especially so if you have a nice AMOLED screen like my Gear S2 has.

            * For appropriately small values of never.

        5. ATeal

          Re: MS Band

          This guy gets it.

          I can't think what it was but a few years ago I was so used to shitty specs of something and comparing them that I forgot things existed with decent specs.... I really can't think what it was.

          But a whole day! Amazing if one does what I did and forget about the "never having to change battery before it dies" thing of actual watches.

    3. N13L5

      Only zombies need electronics to 'track', body functions, fitness

      If you are alive, and your nerves and brain are still fully integrated in your body, your direct information about how your body is doing is perfect and complete.

      A fitness wristband seems like a weird and crude joke.

      On the other hand, if you are a self described zombie, who believes the body is just a jar holding your brains, with little added function other than arms and legs for transportation and to stuff your face with fast food and fondle the TV remote, fitness trackers must look like a miracle...

  2. ratfox Silver badge

    I agree with the current assessment, but it's a much bolder statement to say it will always remain so. There was 14 years between the Apple Newton and the iPhone. The former was a dud, and the latter started the biggest IT revolution since the 80s.

    So all in all, I understand that these companies are still working very hard on it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > I understand that these companies are still working very hard on it.

      Try desperately trying to find a direction after the smartphone bubble came to an end, and keeping the over-all tech bubble inflated, by wildly flinging shit at a Teflon wall, hoping anything will sick, just as capitalism itself begins to falter.

      If I were apple, I'd go for a stylish line of riot protection gear. Imagine how sleek the Apple iGasmask is going to be.

    2. TeeCee Gold badge

      Well that'll be 'cos the former was a PDA while the latter is a phone.

      Oddly enough nobody ever managed to make PDAs sell as they only appealed to seriously anal business types (i.e. the ones who think having an MBA is actually cool) and geeks with absolutely no life whatsoever.

      Mobile phones are a mass market thing and mobile phones that do other things as well are a logical extension.

      1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        PDAs used to sell rather well in the days of the Palmpilot and Psion. Windows CE devices, a bit less so.

        Of course what we were all using them for were functions supplied by any half decent smart phone these days. Basic calendaring functions, note taking, documents, e-mail, games, and the ability to create vertical applications. The alternative was a bulky filofax or a huge laptop.

        Once phones functionality started increasing, it was obvious the days of PDAs were numbered.

        Another ten years and you'll probably be laughed at for having a desktop. You'll either slot your 'phone' into a dock, or more likely it'll all be wireless. All that will be on a desk will be a monitor, keyboard, and mouse because a decent form factor does matter. Everything will travel with you, in addition to being stored online.

      2. Daggerchild Silver badge

        Yeah, I was one of those geeks with absolutely no life whatsoever. I installed servers via serial with my PDA, simply changed its AA batteries, and easily used dense spreadsheets on it.

        Now I can't, *and* I get derided for wanting to.

        1. Steve 114
          Happy

          Sunshine

          I had an APL printer/keyboard portable in the garden, with an acoustic coupler link to a mainframe somewhere quite else. Could juggle millions, between weeding in the sun. And... you could read the printout in daylight, no silly screens. Still got it, but nothing to connect to.

      3. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        > Oddly enough nobody ever managed to make PDAs sell as they only appealed to seriously anal business types (i.e. the ones who think having an MBA is actually cool) and geeks with absolutely no life whatsoever.

        Actually Psion and Palm did a half decent stab at them. But you missed out a third category - those who need something to help with their crap memory (one of the common features that go with my condition). I had a Palm 3 which worked very well, lasted aaaaaaaaages on a charge (or was it set of batteries), was small and light, and was really easy to use. It took a lot of abuse before I broke it's digitiser ! Then I had a Treo650 (about the time they were being discounted to shift the stock to make room for a newer model) which had the advantage of not having to carry around two devices (phone and organiser). I used that for (I think) over a decade before I finally switched to a basic Android device.

        OK - a phone will store phone numbers, but prior to the "smartphone" the functions were fiddly to use. A paper diary will keep track of what I;ve got on, but it's something else to carry - and big deal this, what's in there stays there unless I copy it by hand.

        What's great about my current (Android) phone and the Treo and III is that I can keep my address book and diary synced between my phone, laptop, and tablet. It's one of those "so what" things that until you realise how useful it is, you don't realise how useful it is (I hope that comes across as it's meant).

        There's also the issue that this allows me to backup the information - so I have no worries like those for whom losing the phone means "losing their life". I struggle to comprehend the mentality of those who keep their contacts, diary, photos, pretty well all their "life" on this small device - with no thought as to what happens when it gets lost or stolen, or simply breaks. I was at the photo counter in Asda a while back, and there was someone in there asking about bluetoothing their photos (hundreds of them) off the phone because the USB port was faulty and it was going back for "repair" (which usually means replacement with a blank device).

    3. LDS Silver badge

      Actually, smartphones were propelled among the non-business crowd by the social network (and cat photos) frenzy - while speed increased and costs for mobile Internet access were being reduced. Before, there were almost no use case for average Joe and Jane to own a PDA before, and a smartphone later. Blackberry was propelled by push email (when polling was still expensive), but that was again a business use case, not a generic one.

      What change in society could propel the smartwatch?

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        One of my first gigs was designing and coding a bardcode scanning system using SQL 6.0 on an NT backend (good old 7 of 9 font). windows CE appeared on little barcode PDA scanning machines and the rest was history for us - VB6 could be used to code on them, good old zebra printers made the barcodes and the warehouse tracking system was born. Windows 98 desktops using a VBA front end, PDAs on windows CE, SQL on NT4, 7 of 9 fonts, zebra printers, intel dos boot disks, GHOST server and it wouldn't have been possible without the PDAs on offer at the time. I bet there are still windows CE barcode scanners about today.

        The PDAs were used by all sorts of staff to check stocks, check PC builds (each component was barcoded so we knew what bit was in each PC), each HDD scanned (each scanner logged onto the system so you knew what its "job" was) loaded the correct GHOST image (dos Intel network boot too!). All this was in 1998 so a long time before ipads etc came about.

    4. werdsmith Silver badge

      Who says they need to be block-buster billion selling products to be successful?

      Do people really expect smartwatches to be as ubiquitous as smartphones? No, why would they? They are not a failure if they don't match smartphone sales. They are just a watch that are selling enough to outsell conventional watches. Pebble have just gone to Kickstarter again and been 978% funded in 3 days. That's almost $10million.

      Orlowski is looking at this completely the wrong way.

      1. AdamWill

        "Do people really expect smartwatches to be as ubiquitous as smartphones? No, why would they?"

        Well, you rather get the feeling Apple would like them to be, since the Apple Watch seems to have been their big bet to move on from the rapidly-maturing and margin-thinning smartphone market...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          >Well, you rather get the feeling Apple would like them to be, since the Apple Watch seems to have been their big bet to move on from the rapidly-maturing and margin-thinning smartphone market...

          The only way to make PROFDIY IN PURE CAPITLAISM IS to have a have a (temporay or permenant ) monopoly. This is because the system resuilts on lowers marg9ns for every vendoe cos uil;wtesckl;j zxjk, b45guiown8ilwg789;re jkl;5bbm,.;/ beer.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Pint

            Yes Beer

          2. energystar
            Windows

            Cheers! You drunken Coward!

  3. JimmyPage Silver badge

    There is *something* somewhere ...

    not quite sure what, but having to take a smartphone out of a pocket to check the time is the gap we're looking at.

    1. 7-zark-7

      Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

      So some sort of clock is in order. A clock that doesn't have to be kept in a pocket.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

        I wonder if it would work best on a chain attached to the waist. Or perhaps on a person's wrist with a band to anchor it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Happy

          Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

          "Or perhaps on a person's wrist with a band to anchor it..."

          Nice idea. Let's take the timekeeping device on a wrist band idea a bit further: unlike a smartphone, this surely won't be a device that people look at all the time, so it certainly won't be something they watch, so what to call it? I suggest we name the device the 'Wrist Occasional Glance'.

          You know, this could work.

          1. Tom 7 Silver badge

            Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

            Unfortunately there is a patent on round things so you would have to get your wrists squared off.

          2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
            Stop

            Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

            > I suggest we name the device the 'Wrist Occasional Glance'.

            Dunno, I think the acronym might need some work...

        2. kmac499

          Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

          I just discovered the other day that the "change pocket" in your average pair of denim jeans was originally designed to hold and protect a pocket watch.. Presumably cowboys and prospectors didn't bother with waistcoats gold chains and fobs..

        3. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

          Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

          "Or perhaps on a person's wrist with a band to anchor it."

          When I enquired of a young lady why she used her phone for the time rather than a wristwatch, her answer was "A wristwatch ruins the suntan".

          Sometimes you just can't win.

        4. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

          Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

          wonder if it would work best on a chain attached to the waist. Or perhaps on a person's wrist with a band to anchor it.

          The Germans have something like that, they call it an "armbanduhr".

          Not sure if it'll catch on in the Anglosphere though.

          1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

            Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

            Wrist-attached Automatic Time CHecker might be a a bit of a mouthful, in full, but as acronym it may work. Might be taken though, should check

      2. BarryUK

        Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

        So, a wearable clock which can give you the time without needing to take the phone out of your pocket... Hmm, what would be really great is if it was still able to work when you didn't have your smartphone on you.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

          I like where this is going, I think you're onto something. Could we make it talk to the fridge too?

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

          Even better if you didn't need to touch the display and swipe or whatever, for it to display the time in way that can be read by just glancing at the display. Additionally, wouldn't it be good if it glowed in the dark...

          1. Pedigree-Pete Bronze badge
            Alert

            Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

            Holy Cow! That HYT H3 is, according to Google.

            The new HYT H3 is limited to 25 pieces. Sticker Price $290,000 USD. For more info on HYT click here. Posted on March 21, 2015 by Editor & Publisher and filed under Baselworld, HYT, News and tagged HYT H3 Baselworld 2015 Top Baselworld.21 Mar 2015

            I'll have 2 please. PP

    2. King Jack Silver badge

      Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

      If this device powered itself forever from light and adjusted itself to an atomic time signal, so it really was just wear it and forget it. If only some company made such a device... (looks at own wrist).

      1. TeeCee Gold badge
        Mushroom

        Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

        Or you could ditch the daft, geeky feature list and go with something sort of retro / steampunk. Maybe purely mechanical, with little gears and a way you could see them?......(looks at own wrist).

        1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

          Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

          Bugger that. Let's put a calculator on it. With buttons that are almost too small to use with a finger requiring some form of pointing device...

        2. Pascal

          Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

          > Or you could ditch the daft, geeky feature list and go with something sort of retro / steampunk. Maybe purely mechanical, with little gears and a way you could see them?......(looks at own wrist).

          May as well go full-blown crazy then: http://www.hytwatches.com/collection-h3/watch/h3-titanium-and-platinium-2/

          1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

            Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

            @Pascal - In the same breath: "Wow" but tempered with "Looks like something wound by wanking"

        3. Kernel

          Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

          "Or you could ditch the daft, geeky feature list and go with something sort of retro / steampunk. Maybe purely mechanical, with little gears and a way you could see them?......(looks at own wrist)."

          Or you could even put a glass window in both front and back so you can see the little gears from both sides - the glass could be protected with a couple of flip open covers, activated by pressing a little stem on the side of said device - hey, you could possibly even adapt the stem to be be a multipurpose case opening/power input/programming device. ....... (looks at own waist, heads for patent office).

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

            I think the problem with these small wrist attached clocks is still the power source. By the time the TCP stack and supporting firmware + a SIM card are all powered up so the wrist attached clock can continually poll an NTP server to make sure it's accurate then we're really back to square one. They'll never catch on. I'll just stay with the tried and tested method of having my butler carry the grandfather clock for me when I go out.

    3. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

      I consider my phone just an oversized pocket watch...

      Your point may have gone over my head. :P

    4. SW10
      Go

      Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

      The marketeers have just called. Can we have a range?

      Maybe start at black plastic functional and go right through to bejewelled precious-metal status symbols?

    5. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

      I really don't think Smartwatches are supposed to be about the time, anymore than smartphones are about calling someone and speaking to them.

      1. energystar
        WTF?

        Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

        "Smartphones are [not] about calling someone and speaking to them."

        !!!

        Acute Confidence Breach.

        1. energystar
          Paris Hilton

          Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

          "Smartphones are [not] about calling someone and speaking to them."

          WHY & WHO has stolen our plain phones?

        2. herman Silver badge

          Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

          Hmm, I rather like my steam age retro mechanical self winding watch. It tends to gain 3 minutes per day, and I am always on time for my meetings and everybody else is always late - lazy buggers...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

            I rather like my solar powered Citizen watch, self-charging and accurate and as precise as anything that is analogue. I'm not late for meetings but on time - doesn't cause resentment like that bugger who always turns up early and keep writtering on about that as if were a virtue or something.

            Mines the one with the Sundial in the pocket

          2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

            Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

            It tends to gain 3 minutes per day

            Blimey! Regulate that sucker.

      2. energystar
        Childcatcher

        Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

        "I really don't think [an axe] is supposed to be "an implement that has been used for millennia to shape, split and cut wood; to harvest timber; as a weapon; and as a ceremonial or heraldic symbol".

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ax

    6. energystar
      Windows

      Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

      three bucks strap on will do

      1. energystar
        Windows

        Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

        Zero bucks sucks less. Look next to your battery charger on your next cell box. Here you are! Served on shinning silver plate.

  4. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

    I'd have to agree

    I was going to say a shock and waterproof Android fitness watch would be worth a punt, but I've just had a quick search on Amazon and found that decent running watches are much cheaper than last time I looked. fifty to seventy quid upwards, 8-10 hour battery life (GPS) or weeks (non GPS).

    Can't see the point going for an Android or Apple option unless it's the same price, and integrates well with other devices.

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I need a replacement for my Timex Indiglo runner's watch.

  5. phuzz Silver badge
    Facepalm

    "Give me a wearable that I didn't ever have to recharge, or only needed to recharge once a month, that cost under £20, and that gave reliable notifications of calls or messages received on my phone, and instantly gave me a zoomable map - and maybe then we're talking"

    That's not really the most realistic request now is it?

    But hey, if you find that magic infinite battery that never needs charging and costs less than £20, let me know, I might have a few uses for it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's called a radio-isotope thermo electric generator.

      Apple brand biological shielding will be an optional extra.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      It would be perfectly possible - in fact, already done - if it wasn't for the map function. Citizen and Casio make Bluetooth watches for notifications, both with over a year's battery life.

      The map too would be possible, if it is slaved to a phone for (A)GPS/WiFi location (the latter of more use in cities). You don't need a colour screen for maps.

      Really though, you don't need a graphical map for navigation, you just need a hint to turn left at the next street or whatever. Heck, this could be done with a analogue watch face - either by re-purposing the hands, or by using a ring of otherwise hidden LEDs.

      1. Unep Eurobats

        Re: Watch navigation by re-purposing the hands

        "It's either quarter to nine or I need to turn left."

        1. Valerion

          Re: Watch navigation by re-purposing the hands

          "It's either quarter to nine or I need to turn left."

          Or, indeed, both.

      2. AlanB

        > Hint to turn left .. ring of LEDs

        Sort of wrist mounted equivalent of https://www.smarthalo.bike/ ? That might work. Not that I'm totally convinced by the SmartHalo, even though riding a bike obviously is a case where "why not just take your phone out of your pocket and look at it" isn't that convenient.

        (Another is swimming. Not for maps/navigation, but with my glasses off I can't read a clock on a pool wall. I haven't actually tested the swim lap counter app on my Pebble original (£50, charge once a week) yet, but it was one reason for buying it.)

    3. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      "Give me a wearable that I didn't ever have to recharge, or only needed to recharge once a month, that cost under £20, and that gave reliable notifications of calls or messages received on my phone, and instantly gave me a zoomable map - and maybe then we're talking"

      Apart from the maps and data coming from what some would now call "the cloud"; that is pretty much what my pager did. I believe there were some which had graphical LCDs which could show stock price graphs so could probably show maps.

      We are currently in that phase where there is a premium cost to a smart watch and it's expected to have functionality to justify that cost and also a limit to technology which can extend battery life at the size required. And we won't be solving those problems unless there can be shown to be a return on such investment.

      We are really looking at technology in its formative stage and still figuring out where it can go or should go. Same too for IoT in general. There are bound to be missteps along the way until we hit that magic sweet spot of what people want at a price they are prepared to pay.

      It is rare for anyone to get it right first time. Not even Apple, who have the advantage of an audience which is prepared to pay for the brand.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    how to make it useful

    Holographic interface and monitoring of the blood stream without drawing blood.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: how to make it useful

      It should also have a HUD to show my current health, ammo and mana levels.

      1. Seajay#

        Re: how to make it useful

        Monitoring the bloodstream without drawing blood. Yep, optical heartrate sensor is out there on several fitness watches.

        HUD to show current health. Yep, resting heartrate is a pretty good measure of health. Very usefully it's even a leading indicator of coming down with a cold / ebola.

        I've never seen the point of smart watches but recently bought a Garmin Vivoactive HR. I love it for running but the notifications feature of it (ie the bit which is similar to a smart watch) is even less useful than I thought it would be.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: how to make it useful

          No, not a heartrate. I want blood pressure, tox screen, cancer detection. The works.

          1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

            Re: how to make it useful

            Blood sugar. Pulse rate. Blood pressure.

            In order of importance (to me).

  7. hp

    "Give me a wearable that I didn't ever have to recharge, or only needed to recharge once a month, that cost under £20, and that gave reliable notifications of calls or messages received on my phone, and instantly gave me a zoomable map - and maybe then we're talking"

    I'd be happy if I could have a smartphone that does this for £20.....

    Does no one remember when the first iphone came out and how everyone laughed that anyone would buy a phone that couldn't even last a week on one charge and was so huge?

    I think if you can have one that lasts 2.5 days between charges with reasonable use, lets you make calls/texts/check email, has GPS built in and the ability to run apps/make enough sound to act as a satnav, looks good and sells for <£200 it will sell well. It seems like everyone I know that runs/cycles/tri club thinks the 'right' price point has been reached for GPS sports watch type things at £80-300 and either has, or wants something like the tomtom runner2 music(UK£189), and if they can sell the tomtom without the apps facility/email/text/phone calls then an iwatch type thing with added sim card/gps (surely this will happen in the next 2 iterations) will really sell.

    1. Boothy

      Pebbles (other than the ultra thin versions) last 7+ days on one charge, and only take about 30 mins to fully charge again. (Even the thin ones last around 2+ days).

      But they do try to keep the Pebble simple, no NFS, no GPS, no speaker etc. (Although it does have a mic for dictation). If they added all that, you'd likely be down to charging every day or two again.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > But they do try to keep the Pebble simple, no NFS, no GPS, no speaker etc.

        No NFS? How am I going to browse the files stored on it?

        Actually there could be a use case there. If you store all your files in the cloud, but "the cloud" is actually a device you wear on your wrist, then the cloud goes everywhere with you - and the privacy concerns are gone.

        You can get 1TB of SSD in an M.2 card, so making it watch-sized shouldn't take too long.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          No NFS? How am I going to browse the files stored on it?

          You use the Evernote app of course!

        2. Boothy

          Oops, NFC of course!

          Been setting up a NAS, me thinks the TLA got stuck!

    2. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      They now sell Android phones for £20... so I think we have what you want. Some phones will last a long time on one charge, but you need to turn off all data/wifi, possibly airplane mode at night (your sleeping, do you want a call?) :P

      So a £20 phone and a big powerbank/solar* charger and you off.

      *For a months use on one charge it might be more expensive than £20!

  8. Peter 26

    Still useful, just not as much as they thought

    They are aiming too high, hopefully things will calm down when the novelty wears off. We just want a simple display and buttons so we can read notifications and tell the time. Advanced features would be a gyro (for maps), touch screen (for zooming maps) and heart rate monitor.

    We need a chip that does it pretty much all and let the watch manufacturers build the actual watches, maybe they can make something pretty and the price will be more reasonable.

    1. Thecowking

      Re: Still useful, just not as much as they thought

      That's basically the pebble, excepting the touch screen.

      I'm on my second pebble and as much as I love my Citizen Ecodrive, I always feel a bit disappointed when I wear it and then I can't check notifications on it,

  9. Dave 126 Silver badge

    A touch-screen isn't a great solution for a watch. It would be better to have:

    - A rotating bezel, that can double as a D-pad,

    - Capacitive sensors in the strap, above and below the face.

    Both of these options allow familiar interactions (up, down, left, right, scroll, enter) without obscuring the screen.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There is the pebble route - you don't need a fully functional smartphone UI on a watch. Just a back button, a select button - and up and down.

      To make it more intuitive, you have back on the left - and select on the right (middle button)... up and down either side of that.

      Their "time ui" works really well with this - select on the main watch screen takes you to a menu, down shows you a list of your upcoming appointments, up gives you previous / missed appointments.

      You can short-cut actions too for long presses of buttons, so going into music control app, or showing your notifications etc.

      I get Orlowski's points about smartwatches being huge, over engineered and too complicated - but something like the pebble steel isn't any of those things. It's not £300, it's not any bigger than a normal watch, there isn't a complicated UI, and it's not got gps etc in there. Oh, the battery lasts 7 days (and it really does, not a theoretical estimate) - and it takes minutes to fully charge, not over night. Because it isn't a TFT strapped to your wrist, it is well disguised as a normal watch too.

      1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

        I have to say...

        Seeing others use the Pebble Steel and an iWatch, the PS won by a mile and was less than half the price. :D

    2. energystar
      Joke

      Just start making 'monkey' gestures. Your 'watch' understand you. Those around don't.

      1. energystar
        Joke

        You already know how to make a 'double click'.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Screw the smartwatches...

    there are projects like this https://hackaday.com/tag/f-91w/

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Screw the smartwatches...

      Haha, that's lovely! To save you other guys having to read through the link, here's the gist:

      Pluto is a programmable digital watch that re-uses case and LCD panel of the Casio® F-91W*. This is the hardware repo, for the software side of things, see pluto-fw. Looking for pictures? There you go.

      Features:

      Displays time in decimal/binary/hexadecimal base

      Multiple alarms

      Multiple countdown timers

      Uses RTTTL ringtones for alarm sound

      Stopwatch

      Compass (WIP)

      Generation of time-based one-time passwords according to RFC 6238 (WIP)

      Menu-driven interface

      Infrared receiver for software updates and TOTP secret transfer (WIP)

      Useless customisation (Key beep frequency, etc.)

      approx. 1 year battery life (estimate based on current consumption)

      * You know the one. It's the Casio 'Terrorist' watch, commonly seen on young folk near you. Its nickname came from the idea that if you were writing a time-bomb construction manual, you would choose a cheap, reliable, and easily available timepiece. Alas for the US authorities who started the story, possession of a F-91W is about as much use as a proxy for 'terrorist' as possessing a beard.

  11. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Stop

    Actually, the jokes about fob watches ....

    I can actually see a space in the market for a wearable like an old stylee fob watch.

    *Wrist* watches were developed for use in WW1 in response to a need ...

    1. TeeCee Gold badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Actually, the jokes about fob watches ....

      Except you might as well just get your phone out of your pocket.....

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Actually, the jokes about fob watches ....

        Except you might as well just get your phone out of your pocket.....

        You really do not understand the statement that can be made by spinning a watch around on a chain.

        I intend to get micro:bit so I can chain one to my jacket so when I whip it out and spin it round it writes "Well that was fucking pointless!" in the air as it spins.

        1. AMBxx Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Actually, the jokes about fob watches ....

          You could always just put your phone on a chain.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Pint

            Re: Actually, the jokes about fob watches ....

            any old iron, any old iron, any any old iron

        2. fijired2

          Re: Actually, the jokes about fob watches ....

          Careful where you swing that thing, you don't want to go starting a storm and filling all the rivers with water...

  12. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    Serious Dick Tracy cosplay aside - I just can't find a reason, any reason, to buy a smartwatch. And I buy a lot of gadgets.

    1. jason 7

      Yeah of the folks I've seen with a Apple Watch it just tells them lots of useless dull info about their dull day to day routine. But boy will they try hard to enthuse over it to you.

    2. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Frankly, and I know I'm not alone in this, I haven't worn a watch since I had a reasonable mobile phone as I use this as my time telling device. I had a watch, but couldn't be bothered to replace the battery when it ran out when I had a convenient alternative.

      1. Paul Shirley

        Found this 2011 survey showing <50% wearing watches and phones already taking over for time telling. https://today.yougov.com/news/2011/05/05/brother-do-you-have-time/

        I stopped wearing one as a teenager, stopped carrying one when cheap pocketable alarm clocks became available, then switched to phones-as-clocks when they reached disposable prices. Didn't use my 1st mobile as a phone for over a year but it made a great (and tiny) portable clock :)

        Even as timepieces watches are irrelevant for most of the population now.

        1. Fibbles

          Been saying this for years. Got heavily down voted every time...

          1. markheathcote

            hey, lets down vote this guy just to be ironic.

            1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

              hey, lets down vote this guy just to be ironic.

              I down-voted you for the sake of meta-irony. All the cool-kids will be doing it soon.

              1. energystar
                Angel

                Aaand... down with You also, just for the MetaMeta!

            2. Fibbles

              How dare you mess with my fake internet points! You think this is a motherf*****g game!?

              /s

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I had chemo last year an it damaged my hearing. I'm not deaf but range is limited and I can't always tell what sounds are. I have a pebble steel. It lasts for about four or five days between charges and I don't miss calls or texts from the Mrs. or my GP (or telemarketers unfortunately) anymore because it's hard to miss the buzzing and blinking thing at the end of my arm which is much more discrete than a small disco going off in my trousers or on my desk.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        "much more discrete than a small disco going off in my trousers"

        But no where near as exciting!

  13. Daggerchild Silver badge

    Tiz the future!

    Really, I only want a smartwatch to surreptitiously signal me, and allow me to tell at a glance whether or not it's something I need to pull my phone out for. Tiny, low latency data bursts. Anything with battery-draining delusions of grandeur misunderstands the small difference between a wrist and a pocket.

    Now, if you took that Google modular phone, and turned it into a modular bangle, you may have something to argue the toss with.

    I'm still waiting for the wristband that can tell the extension of your fingers/vibration/impact from ultrasonic analysis of your tendons so it could allow you to touchtype on anything.

    1. Artaxerxes

      Re: Tiz the future!

      I'm still waiting for the wristband that can tell the extension of your fingers/vibration/impact from ultrasonic analysis of your tendons so it could allow you to touchtype on anything.

      I was wondering where that was for a Mouse replacement, it would solve a lot of problems I'm having with my wrist in my old age.

    2. Synonymous Howard

      Re: Tiz the future!

      You really want to look at the upcoming Pebble Time 2 which is on kickstarter at the moment (nearly $10m so far).

      I have an original Pebble (B&W but a bit ugly/utilitarian) and a Pebble Time (colour, nice styling and a comfortable fit) and I've ordered a PT2 because of the bigger display and pulse-meter (as its nice to know if you are zombie)

      I also have an Apple Watch 'look-a-like' which is, umm, just a red LED digital watch inside but definitely looks and feels like an AW .. fun for hipster baiting 8-)

  14. Alfie
    Windows

    I just dont get it...

    I had stopped wearing a watch for a few years as I used my phone to tell me the time. From what I can tell a smartwatch is just going to relay info that is on my smartphone, and it doesnt take that much effort to pull that out of my pocket. Sure you can add some biometric data to the mix, but giving me a bunch of numbers on how far I've walked/run/cycled today isnt going to make me fitter/thinner. Doing more walking/running/cycling and eating less should do the trick and I dont need a watch to tell me that. Although I can see a niche market for actual athletes, not MAMILs.

    Just a couple of months ago I went retro and bought a Vostok mechanical divers watch, it tells me the time (fairly accurately) and it doesnt need wound up or a new battery that cost more than the watch (G-Shock I'm talking about you!) to keep working. In fact it was probably cheaper than a replacement G-Shock battery.

    Dont get me wrong, I love tech and have more than my fair share, but the wrist doesnt seem an obvious place to put it if you want a decent user experience, or it ends up so big that you cant wear clothes over it.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: I just dont get it...

      You can get G-Shock batteries very cheaply, it's just the pressure-testing that they do after replacement that adds to the cost. If you don't go diving and can trust the person in your local watch shop to not be a complete clutz with the case gasket, you should be fine.

  15. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    " If you work in software, I’ll bet you worked on a project like this. It’s where dozens, or even hundreds of people are involved in the spec process, and what tumbles out is a monster that nobody ever wanted."

    Every spec should have this as its front cover: http://projectcartoon.com/cartoon/3

  16. Dave 126 Silver badge

    This was a good article

    I came here to say this.

    1. energystar
      Happy

      Re: This was a good article

      The best comment!

      From all ElReg Journalists </End_Of_Impersonation>

      [Please, all in Journalism, Up-vote this Comment] </Not_A_Joke>

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: This was a good article

        If you click on my moniker you'll see that I'm occasionally critical of this Reg writer Orlowski, so I thought it only fair to say when I think he's done a good job today. I would have posted this view earlier, but I got distracted.

        And hey, you fellow commentards: This has been a nice thread. Give yourselves a pat on the back too! :)

  17. Tony Paulazzo

    Perfect smart watch for me

    replace the phone with 64 GB storage space

    voice and motion controlled with 4G connections

    Holographic display when required...

    In fact, screw the watch, how last century is that? a Star Trek: TNG pin that beams a holographic display (with working keypad) in front of you.

    1. lglethal Silver badge

      Re: Perfect smart watch for me

      Dear God, NO! It's bad enough when some douche bag starts having a loud phone conversation on public transport. I really don't want to be seeing and hearing the other person as well!

  18. Jim84

    Excellent Analysis

    Mr Orlowski has hit the nail right on the head again.

  19. Tom 7 Silver badge

    I have noticed my Facebook feed has become a lot less busy

    since everyone stopped using their smart watches.

    Or the muggers could tell when they were jogging in that sheltered bit of the park...

    Either way a great improvement.

    1. Seajay#

      Re: I have noticed my Facebook feed has become a lot less busy

      If you're a mugger do you

      a) Find a population who are likely to jog past your preferred mugging spot, monitor their smartwatch activity, set up some sort of alert to let you know if they appear to be headed towards the park, keep a motorbike outside your house so that you can get to the park before they do and be ready to attack.

      b) Hang out by the sheltered bit of the park and wait.

      Unless you're POTUS, there is no security issue with a smart watch.

  20. Indolent Wretch

    "Google Wear devices are expensive"

    No they aren't. Well under a £100. There's a Sony one for £99 which even has a GPS ffs.

    Compared to the price of a normal watch that's not expensive at all

  21. LDS Silver badge

    Swatch introduced watches with some "payment" capabilities years ago...

    And they didn't become a durable success. I have one I used when skiing (with gloves, it was more comfortable than the ski-pass card), it could have been also used for public transportation, but not many places allowed it. Today Apple and Google are bigger than Swatch and the acceptance of that payment method easier, but you can also pay with a card or a phone, without being forced to wear the same watch every time - some people like to wear different watches...

  22. James 51 Silver badge

    Smart watches have their uses. It's just that it you're going to charge an arm and a leg to make a lot of money you have to show people something for it. There's also mind share to be considered. It's a pity pebble have swiveled towards the fitness side of things. I have a pebble steel and it is great for sneaking a look at texts in meetings.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Garmin Vivosmart

    I have a Garmin Vivosmart that seems to hit the mark - it tells the time (!), counts steps (and other fitness related info), has music player controls and shows me notifications from text messages and emails. It is small, waterproof with a touch screen and only needs recharging once a week or so.

    The only downside is that I am now on no.4 as the screens keep dying on them (but Garmin keep replacing the unit and are quite efficient at sending out new ones)

  24. DrXym Silver badge

    The shortcomings were quite obvious

    The display which turned off to save battery. The display which didn't work in strong glare. The battery which could barely last a day or two. The constant bother of charging. The proprietary chargers and accessories. The lack of compelling apps. The proprietary protocols and ties to phone platforms. The cost. etc.

    All these things sunk smart watches. At the end of the day a "smart" watch was just a normal watch which didn't tell the as well as a normal watch and was considerably more bother to use.

    When smart watches make substantial progress on all of the issues above, then they may get some market traction.

  25. Mario Becroft
    Happy

    Dissent

    Allow me to present a dissenting opinion.

    I've found my Android Wear watch very practical. Maybe the UI could be improved, but the existing Wear UI based on simple swipe actions is a damn good effort and works well. I actually don't see a need for major changes.

    Main uses I get from the watch:

    - Telling the time. Why do you think wristwatches were invented in the first place and took over the market from pocket watches? Our phones are now our pocket watches. Any time I leave my wristwatch at home nowadays I find myself glancing at my wrist... oh... dig phone out of pocket, turn on screen... yeah that sure is just as easy as glancing at the wrist. No benefit to a wristwatch here at all...

    - Receiving messages. Recieve an SMS, glance at the wrist and there it is. The majority can be dismissed with a flick of the wrist. If a response is warranted it can be made by voice dictation in a fraction of the time it would take to pull the phone out of the pocket. And the voice dictation is good! Less error-prone than the auto-correcting on-screen phone keyboards my friends seem to use (based on experience of trying to interpret their messages).

    - Sending messages. The number of times I've been stuck in traffic and fired off a quick SMS using my watch's voice dictation feature without having to use my hands (illegal here).

    - Customisable watchfaces. I can add whatever data strikes my fancy to my watch, which I'd probably never be able to find in a traditional wristwatch. Examples: ISO week number, 12 and 24 hour time, UTC time, sunset and sunrise points indicated on the dial, current weather report... All while looking beautiful like a traditional wristwatch. Do I need to take an umbrella with me today? Just glance at my watch. Sounds silly until you try it. When working in project management, glancing at the watch to get the week number is so handy. Doubtless there is a mechanical watch somewhere out there with ISO week, but does it have all the other features? Likely not. Point is I can make my watch work how I need and want.

    - Apps. Stuff I could do on a phone, but it's so much easier on the watch. Like whipping out a calendar when discussing meeting/operational dates. Even checking my bank balances to see if I need to move money around before a big purchase--takes two taps to the screen. Done before I could have even got my phone out of my pocket.

    - Novel applications which could never be done with just a phone. Guess what one of the best features of my smart watch is? It acts as a viewfinder for the camera in my phone. This is invaluable when trying to see the cabling behind some networking gear poorly packed into a rack, for example. I was on-site with a colleague just the other day, and this feature blew his mind. Sure I could find some remote camera hardware to serve the purpose, or fiddle around with a mirror on a stick, but this feature is there *in the watch already on my wrist*.

    I've only scratched the surface here of all the smartwatch features I use on a regular basis.

    If you've never used a smart watch then don't be so quick to dismiss its usefulness. If you have and disagree, I respect your opinion. But for me it all comes down to convenience. Sure, I *could* do many of these things with a phone. But nowadays I hardly ever take my phone out of my pocket except to answer calls. Smart watches have reached the point where they are unobtrusive and highly functional. In my opinion they are right in the sweet spot.

    As to the people moaning about having to recharge it every night... how many of you wear your conventional wristwatch all night? Or do you take it off and put it on your nightstand? Thought so. Well, you do the same with your smartwatch, and it stays charged. There are zero instances where lack of battery life has been an issue for me with either of my smartwatches.

    Disclaimer: I haven't used the Apple watch. My experience is only with the Moto 360 and G Watch R, both of which run Android Wear.

    1. ChrisB 2

      Re: Dissent

      I like watches, I have a couple, so the time-telling thing was not a driver for me. I have to say I largely agree with you. I got an Apple Watch, used it for a few weeks, lost interest and only recently started using it again. I find it useful during the working week for almost all of the things you mention. At weekends I prefer my older (and nicer) mechanical watches.

      1. Dadmin

        Re: Dissent

        YISS! Another mechanical watch fan lured into the seamy underbelly of the new era smartwatches.

        I can't explain, but I had to get a smartwatch for work. I held off getting a "iWatch" since it came out because I was not yet an iPhone user, and I have a rather medium sized collection of many different types of analog and digital watches. My favorites are my Solar/Atomics, I have about four different Casios, two of which are G-Shockers, and two lovely Citizens a black and a sliver/Blue Angles flight-style watches. I also have a medium-luxury Tag Hauer Formula 1, which is the most expensive I would dare to get at about $1000 US retail. And my mini-collection of about ta dozen Swatch Watches dating back to their fist year with my trusty Jellyfish. So, for me getting a smartwatch meant leaving behind about 60 very nice watches and exclusively using a new bit of kit that I did not know if I would like or not. Also, I'd rather have a nice smart pocket watch, rather than a wrist worn device, and I didn't yet want the activity monitoring aspects of it. Just something to keep from walking around like a fucking 14 year old with a phone in my hand and my eyes glued to it like a retard. Stupid.

        This is were it all changed for me. I upgraded the phone from a 2005 Moto RAZR to an iPhone 6s+, then got the iWatch a week later. I love this thing! Here's why; I don't have to pull out the phone, it tells me stuff that I want to know, and I can shut off the stuff I don't need. The activity monitor is actually a fun way to track what physical activities you're doing through the day and the device itself is much MUCH smaller than I anticipated. Most every one of my Invictas are slightly larger to over 5 times larger than the 42mm iWatch. So, no complaints here. Just very useful stuff, without having to hold other devices and log into them. Just tilt, swipe, swipe, hit the button if you're done, and you're off to the next thing. I almost wish they had made it a bit bigger, maybe option-out the fitness parts, and added a 4G-LTE radio to it for complete tether-free use, and in pocket/fobb style. I could re-engineer a band to be a fob, but that would leave the fitness sensors hanging out doing nothing. So, keep that for now.

        Anyway, like you I will honor my old-timey analog and digital collection on the weekends, but I really do have many uses for this new iWatch device that makes holding the phone unnecessary. Other than the 1st party wares, I got a sweet XBMC remote so I can control my Kodi boxen right on the watch. Very handy indeed. Oh and both BBC News and the Sports apps do the iWatch justice with their implementations. So, I get why people are not flocking to buy these little expensive devils, but I don't think the market is quite dead yet, just going slow until some killer app comes along and a bulk of users say "oh yeah, I want that too." We'll see how it all plays out. So far, this is a good bit of kit.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          False Consensus Bias

          You are right, you get it - it works for you. The problem with most of these comments are the people that don't get it, they assume that their opinion is universal and dismiss these watches as pointless because they believe that their little world should apply to everyone.

          There are many things I see other people doing that strike me as pointless, but I'm not inclined to declare it at every opportunity, because it's not all about me.

    2. Seajay#

      Re: Dissent

      Great post, thank you. Sounds like you've already found some genuinely useful functions which I hadn't considered. They are all pretty minor advantages for something which costs >£100 but the uses are only going to increase as more people have and play with them.

      The only bit I'd take issue with is the overnight thing. I have always worn my watch 24/7 whether digital, mechanical or now fitness tracking. This is one of those things which because it happens in the privacy of your own bedroom, you never see other people doing. So there's a tendency to assume that everyone is like you. Not the case and it is an issue for smart watches. However, given that a generation pretty quickly changed to not wearing watches at all, not wearing them overnight is a pretty minor adaptation (though it does remove the value of sleep and resting heart rate tracking in fitness watches)

    3. Gert Leboski
      Thumb Up

      Re: Dissent

      I'm with you on this. I have an LG Watch Urbane. I find it to be a useful piece of kit and it looks pretty good on the wrist in my opinion. Average use will see you get a couple of days battery life out of it.

      Plus, I have found what I believe to be the killer app. A fart button, that turns your phone into a remote whoopie-cushion. Can I get a high five?

    4. Pedigree-Pete Bronze badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Dissent

      I put my wristwatch and (my employer supplied) iPhone on my bedside table every night and charge the iPhone (in that mode, it's my alarm clock as the Casio speaker seems to have blown).

      After years of uncomfortably and dangerously sticking my head down floor boxes to see possible cable runs I final realised my clip on 6 LED web cam and a VidConf application would do the same job without the gymnastics or the risk of slashing my carotid on the floor box edge. PP

  26. magickmark

    My Wearable

    My wearable attached to my wrist with a band of leather, it has one function which it does perfectly. It was made in 1916 (hallmarked silver) and still works perfectly toady.

    As I am sure you can guess is a watch. In this case a Swiss made wristwatch and it does exactly as I want, a quick glance way of knowing the time. Anything more complex than that and I'd use my smartphone.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: My Wearable

      Good for you!

      Now we all know that, the world is a better place.

  27. marky_boi

    Pebble does the job just fine

    Bought mine as a notification extension of the phone to my arm. I am on-call every 5 weeks and my darling wife appreciates the fact the watch vibrates to wake me up rather than a jangling phone...... I have an original pebble time and the thing lasted 10 days while I was on holidays. I swapped out the stupid silicon band for a black stainless steel jobbies from e-bay and get comments all the time on how nice the watch looks most are surprised to find out it is a pebble. The epaper display reads well and with a flick of the wrist the thing lights up at night. I will be stumping up some more coin for the updated pebble2 on offer as I have belief in the sense of using the pebble. I looked at android behemoths and decided that the pebble fitted the bill, i have not regretted that choice 3 years later.

  28. The March Hare

    Wearable..

    Can I just say that if anyone feels the need to get rid of their "so last century" wristwatch, I'll take it off their hands - but only if it says Omega on the dial.....

    or patek philipe, or Rolex, or....

  29. SquidEmperor

    Gear Fit - Boomerang

    I bought the Samsung Gear Fit when it was first released because I liked the look. Typically after about 90 days I tossed it to one side and went back to my expensive Analog Mont Blanc. ....but.... about 5 months ago I started to wear it again after about a year of neglect. and I am still wearing it daily. I think the sweet spot the Gear Fit hits is that [a] It look good and [b] it doesn't try and do everything - but what it does do it does fairly well. It buzzes on my wrist to remind me of meetings, enables me to track multiple timezones and see a preview of messages and app notifications as they arrive. And it (as unreliably as anything else) enables me to count steps and exercise. All in all not remarkable but reliable enough and useful enough to hang on my wrist. Now if they could just redesign it so it didn't need a dongle to charge with I'd be very happy.

  30. Jos V

    Outdoor activity watch?

    What I'd like is a watch that has GPS build in, plus compass, so it can show direction + distance to waypoints, a mini flashlight, an analog clock face, and a mini-usb to charge it up and read/set data.

    Communicating to the phone optional, if only to do the waypoints through an app... I doubt if it can't be done under $100...

    Or is it there already? Can't be bothered to search for it :)

    1. Seajay#

      Re: Outdoor activity watch?

      There are a few suunto and garmin watches which do all of that (less the flashlight). Not for under $100 new but you might be able to pick up a second hand ambit2.

  31. John Miles 1
    Facepalm

    iAPX432 and redundant solutions

    That's the first time I've seen a mention of the iAPX432 (Intel's post 8086 new dawn) in about 30 years. One of the problems it aimed to solve was bad object pointer references and buffer overflows. At the same time the Ada language addressed the same problem through compiler technology. Bizarrely Intel then launched the processor with an Ada compiler - so there was then no need for the key features in the new architecture. Both the processor and the language tanked (except for specialist and defense applications) and 30 years later we still have buffer overflows and all the security nasties that flow from that.

    Seems to be the same problem with smartwatches - if we didn't already have smart phones they might be rather useful.

    In both cases one solution is better than two or zero.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: iAPX432 and redundant solutions

      While the iAPX-432 failed, that doesn't mean it was a mistake.1

      There had been commercially-successful capability architectures before, principally the Burroughs machines. There was a commercially-successful capability architecture shortly after: the AS/400.2

      There was a pressing need then for capability architectures. There still is.

      The problem with the iAPX-432 was that Intel didn't market it as safety and reliability over performance, and probably didn't have footing to do so anyway. IBM could sell the System/38 and then AS/400 on that basis, because IBM's customers were already conditioned to accept that trade-off. Intel's were not (and still are not).

      Andrew's understanding of the iAPX-432 is impoverished and his interpretation sophomoric. Shocking, I know.

      1Tommy: "That it ceased to exist, I'll grant you. But I don't think it can be definitively said to be a failure." Charlie: "For me, ceasing to exist is failure. That's pretty definitive." Tommy: "We all cease to exist. That doesn't mean we're all failures."

      2I know some Wikipedant claims the AS/400 was not a capability architecture. I don't find the argument convincing, and in any case for our purpose it's so close as makes no difference.

  32. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    It's a Veblen good

    It doesn't have to be useful, just expensive.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: It's a Veblen good

      I think you'll find that that the status symbol market is already well catered for by traditional watches.

      Smart watches actually do have to be useful.

      Try again.

  33. John Lilburne Silver badge

    Way back in 1982 ...

    ... I was used a watch to time a darkroom print exposure, during one session I dropped the damn thing in a stop bath tray. It never worked again and I've not used a watch since. If I need to know the time it is displayed on my computer, iPod, and old nokia phone. Around the town there are big towers which display the time, it is displayed on the dashboard of my car, and is usually displayed on the wall in cafes and shops. Why would I need to pay £20 let alone several £100 for another time display?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Way back in 1982 ...

      Cos the countryside has been shown to reduce blood pressure?

  34. AndrewDu

    It's almost like nobody had ever read "The Mythical Man-month".

    1. energystar
      Windows

      Stupid Admins [I'm one]

  35. bjr

    Went back to a mechanical watch

    I bought the Pebble when it came out, it was only $125 so it was worth a flyer. I quickly determined that the smartwatch features were useless and it was also terrible as a watch (display was barely readable), now I'm back to wearing regular watches, in fact I went back to wind up watches because they are the farthest thing from a smartwatch.

    When gen 0 or 1 technology is introduced you can usually imagine what it would be like when the technology catches up to the promise. The first PCs were pathetic compared to the mini computers of the day, but it was obvious that in a few years they would be able to as much or more as those refrigerator size minicomputers could do. I thought the same thing when I got a Palm Treo, it included a browser that hinted at what a smartphone would be able to do once the screens got better, the network faster and had a better processor. In both of those cases there were already jobs that they could do well, in the case of the PC they could do word processing and spreadsheets which was enough to justify their purchase, the Treo could do e-mail and phone calls well which was reason enough to buy one. In the case of smartwatches they don't do anything that the phone in your pocket doesn't already do except that they don't do in anywhere near as well. I once thought that a wrist phone that replaced the pocket phone that we carry now might make sense but I've come to the conclusion that a wrist phone can never be more than a niche product (BTW some Android watches are wrist phone capable). The problem is that a 1 inch screen is essentially useless for displaying anything more then the time, it's a limitation of human eyes and it can't be fixed with better 1" screens. The same is true for touch input, human fingers are the limitation, you will never be able to use a 1" surface for any thing more than a swipe. The only user interface that can work well on a watch sized device is speech. The limitation here is that talking isn't private, it's OK to talk to your device at home but it's awkward in public. I do use OK Google in public but only for very limited purposes like making an appointment (in that case the person that you are setting up the appointment with is the only other person there), or maybe looking up a movie time but even that is a little bit awkward. I can't imagine doing much else with speech in public, even if it wasn't embarrassing it would be a mess if lots of people tried to talk to their wrists at the same time. Fitness bands are a different story, they supply an additional set of sensors that can't be put into the smartphone itself because the smartphone isn't in contact with your skin. That's an example of a new technology that provides new capabilities, they aren't competing with an existing device.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Went back to a mechanical watch

      I'm sure you have a good point, but your lack of paragraphs reminds me of the end of Catch 22 or an experimental Will Self novel. I'm drunk and can't cope with that.

  36. IGnatius T Foobar

    Someone read too many Dick Tracy comics and thought a "2-way wrist computer" was a good idea. Evidently they didn't see the billions of people *not* having any trouble pulling their smartphones out of their pockets to check the time, read notifications or whatever.

    The only people I see wearing smart-watches are the ones who buy every new gadget -- and even they don't keep wearing them for very long.

    1. energystar
      Terminator

      "Evidently they didn't see the billions of people *not* having any trouble pulling their smartphones out of their pockets to check the time, read notifications or whatever."

      Started being an 'issue' with big, 'macho', 'touchy' {:D} screens...

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      What about all those who lose their phones in their purses and always miss calls because they lose time hunting around for them?

  37. Howard Hanek
    Happy

    Complelling?

    You'd have to hypnotize, sedate and compel me first on threat of death or severe bodily harm.

  38. John Savard Silver badge

    How They're Thinking

    Apple came out with the Lisa, and then Microsoft had to pay Apple money, and Digital Research faced lawsuits for GEM Desktop.

    Apple came out with the iPhone, and so Samsung has to pay royalties to Microsoft!

    Obviously, this shows one can't wait for a new category of product to be a success; one has to be there right from the beginning to have enough new inventions of one's own to be in the patent pool on an equal footing.

    And so we're going to see smart watches for years to come whether or not anyone buys any so that the companies will be ready to participate in the market once somebody does figure out a use for them, and they sell like hotcakes, relegating desktop computers and laptops and tablets and smartphones to obsolescence!

    Now, of course, it could be that the whole consumer electronics industry will just descend into bankruptcy from this never actually happening, but right now the lessons of recent history are seared into their brains.

  39. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Try a cheap one first

    I got a Chinese rip-off smartwatch from Gearbest that cost less than £8, just to see whether it would be useful. It wasn't (apart for the brief novelty value of being able to make and answer phone calls from my watch like James Bond). Still, can't argue at that sort of price and the quality was even acceptable, so it'll make a good Xmas or birthday present for a youngster.

  40. Ossi

    Pebble Get It

    The problem with most smartwatches is that they're not actually very good at being watches, which is still their main function. I'm a fan of Pebble for that reason. It functions perfectly as a watch, but gives you more options and flexibility for only the minor inconvenience of a (short) weekly charge. It's not even expensive.

    It comes down to this - if it's good as a watch (and as cheap as one), it doesn't need much justification for the minor inconvenience of an *occasional* charge. This seems common sense. Seems to elude Google and Apple though.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But I told you so even earlier.

    Same as Title.

    Credit where credit's due: Apple can still mug the unwashed sheeple. Even if it be polished turd.

  42. Jim-234

    Smart watches - Excellent for some - ignored by most

    I think the issue with smart watches comes down to individual use cases.

    I know many people couldn't care less about a smart watch but for me it is a really useful accessory, that I put to constant use each day.

    Starting out as many these days I have a large screen phone, this pretty much eliminates the need to worry about a tablet. The phone stays in my pocket most of the time.

    I use the Samsung Galaxy Gear 2 which I think is one of the best ones from a feature set, I'd love the S2 but they took away the camera.

    Why use a smartwatch?

    So I don't have to pull out my phone.

    If you have multiple notifications for e-mails (some important, most junk), texts coming in (some you care about, others not), you can just turn your wrist at a glance and see what it is, or let them build up and check a bunch at once, quickly.

    When calls come in, while you are working, you just look at your wrist & decide to answer or not & get on with working.

    You can get your important traffic notifications sent to your wrist so you know if you need to take a different route to avoid a jam without having to pull out and look at your phone.

    You can also setup ready made text replies so if you get asked to pick up something on the way home, you can respond yes or things like that with a touch or two, or answer that you'll be there shortly etc.

    Too many people deride the camera, but it's actually very useful as a quick way to take note of things, no need to jot down notes on stuff or type stuff in, just snap a quick shot of it with 2 presses of a button on your wrist and you can jot it down later.

    I think Samsung's own platform is a fair bit better & less bloated than the Google Wear platform, but them sticking it pretty much to only Samsung phones limits the appeal. While the watch lasts about 2 days on a charge, I have no problem charging it at night, I just take it off & put it by my phone which is also charging, then pick up said phone & watch in the morning.

  43. danXtrate

    Aquired taste

    Well.... I wouldn't say smartwatches are useless, but they are something I could live without. Been using my Moto 360 Gen 1 for a couple of years now and I've grown to love it. I'm so used to it that even when I'm not wearing it I look at my watch first when my phone receives a call or a notification. Yes, I have to charge it every night, but my smartphone also requires daily charging, so it's just another thing to place in the charging station at night. I use it for cycling (Strava), send short emails or messages, receive tweets and all notifications I've setup in the phone app. Oh, yeah, and check the time.

  44. energystar
    Windows

    "Why does a smartwatch need to have a local cache of MP3 files? Well, the use case put forward is that the owner goes jogging, but still wants to hear some music, but doesn’t want to take calls."

    ;D

    'Spin', so they call at Politics field. [Any signal harvesting agent needs storage].

    1. energystar
      Trollface

      The fantasy day we decide to throw away all our mobile paraphernalia, street cameras suddenly will become as common as street luminaries.

      1. energystar
        Angel

        Here you have, over silver plate, a shining new IoT product' concept.

  45. ecofeco Silver badge

    Today's word is "gimmick"

    Doesn't anyone remember this word? Gimmick is the perfect word to describe "smart watches."

    No battery life, easily breakable, does nothing more than my smart phone. For how much?

    Yeah... no.

  46. jonmorris

    This is exactly why I like my Pebble watch. For most of the time I forget/don't care it's a smartwatch and just it to tell the time, but with a choice of watch faces that I can change like themes on a phone or wallpapers on a desktop. Change for change's sake.

    But it's great I can get simple notifications that save me pulling my phone out to see if that alert was an email reply I've been waiting for, or just another cat photo posted on Facebook.

    Yes, a Pebble can run apps but I rarely do. I do like it warning me that I've had too little sleep, but as yet it hasn't succeeded in getting me to go to bed early. The Health features are improving all the time, and the best thing is the 10 day battery life.

    For me, all the other smartwatches are exactly what Andrew says - trying to be too damn clever. If that email I've been waiting for arrives, I'll go to my phone to read it and respond. I don't want to try replying on a tiny on-screen keyboard, drawing characters one by one, or talking to it when outdoors. That's why I bought a smartphone.

    I don't want to play games or anything else. My needs are incredibly modest and I think Google, Apple, Samsung and others have all gone down the wrong road.

    Naturally this is just my opinion, but I can see why smartwatches haven't gone mainstream. Even Pebble hasn't gone mainstream.

    We're mostly tech nerds and know we don't really need a smartwatch, but have one anyway. Anyone else will simply know they don't need one - and not get one.

  47. Tank boy
    Happy

    The jury is still out.

    I bought a smart watch for my wife (Fossil) which she uses at work as she isn't able to carry her cell phone around. It's a bit annoying when she get's a phone call while she's sleeping (it vibrates) and it's charging, but it's a neat feature. In addition, she can send texts just by talking into the watch. Downside(s), the charge doesn't last for more that about 12 hours depending on useage, the charging device is a pain to fit the micro USB and it doesn't come with an instruction manual. So basically you have to fiddle with it to optimize it's use. For less that $500 USD, it was a pretty good deal.

    1. Seajay#

      Re: The jury is still out.

      That's a very rude nickname for your wife. Outrageous.

  48. Sysgod

    I would pay a couple hundred for this watch

    I would like a smartwatch with the following capabilities:

    It must tell me the time when I look at it.

    It must sense my blood pressure or something to automatically dial 911 if I'm having a heart attack.

    It must have an emergency button that I can click that will quietly dial 911 and call for help.

    It must have a sensor that should I suffer some sort of sudden stop (like crashing the car or being hit as a pedestrian) it will automatically dial 911 for help.

    It doesn't need to do anything else. Just be generally useful and save my life.

  49. largefile

    Smart watches are for young folks with good vision. Once you get past your 40's you can't see the numbers on a regular wristwatch at arms length. God forbid one tries to read messages or select icons.

  50. Andy3

    I've been using a fitness band/watch for a few years and I've always liked the look of the Apple Watch and similar models. Those clear graphics do something to me. But I've never taken the plunge because of the reasons cited in the article. I don't want a smartphone-based device telling how many msgs I've got or linking me to other users or reminding me it's my maiden aunt's birthday, I just want a nice-looking watch/fitness band that I can download to a simple website at the end of the day. I also want a battery that I can change once a year, not worry about charging every 2 days. So for now I'll stick with my Withings Activite, which has a nice analogue face (with a simple analogue step counter), a one-year battery and no fancy bells and whistles. Thankyou.

  51. Displacement Activity
    Meh

    iPlayer?!

    Another more recent example. In the early Noughties, the BBC’s iPlayer was envisaged as a sophisticated P2P client, and at one stage had over 400 people involved in spec meetings. iPlayer only rolled out after the team had been reduced to around 15 – and the doors were bolted shut.

    And all 15 of them had iPhones. And it was impossible to watch it on Android. And I spent years getting iritated at how anyone could have been so stupid (and still are?), before just giving up. And the news website is equally moronic.

    So, just maybe, cutting a team down to 15 and letting them get on with it is not necessarily the right thing to do.

    1. DocJames
      Pirate

      Re: iPlayer?!

      So, just maybe, cutting a team down to 15 and letting them get on with it is not necessarily the right thing to do.

      No, cutting the team to 15 is the right thing (or even more cutting if possible).

      It's the testing loops done with alpha/beta version with more people that will pick up such egregious errors.

      Icon for cutting.

  52. Champ

    Pebble gets it

    I was on the original Kickstarter campaign for Pebble, and loved it. So much that I joined the second Kickstarter campaign for the Pebble Time. It does exactly what I want, but not too much, so it only needs charging once a week.

    I see lots of positive comments about the Pebble in this thread, and I do think that tarring all wearables with the same brush is lazy.

  53. Lyonnesse
    Meh

    When the Apple watch has a SIM I'll buy one

    Expect that will generate a few groans, but from my perspective, the iPhone was a game changer. Just at the point where I was sick of carrying around a phone, a music player, a diary, a notebook and who knows what else, the iPhone 3 was the only thing that looked like it could replace all those things. I got one and became an Apple convert.

    I never got an ipad because it couldn't run Excel VBA. I got a MacBook Air instead. Now I've got an iPhone 6s plus because the screen is big enough to show off my photography and I'm still only carrying around 1 bit of kit.

    My ideal would be to make and receive calls on my watch and carry an iPad mini. I understand the battery life on the watch isn't that great either, so that would need fixing too

  54. daveperso

    I love my Smartwatch

    I love my Motorola 360 1st generation Android watch and I find it very useful and can't understand why people don't like them.

    Charging

    Charging is not an issue at all. Do you wear your watch in bed?? No, you take it off, or at least I do, and with my smartwatch, I simply place it in its cradle every night and it's ready to go the next day. What's more, it acts like a little bedside clock while it is charging. Why do you need a phone that doesn't need charging for a month???? Don't get it.

    Always visible

    My watch is always lit up. I don't need to touch the screen to see the time. Make sure you get a smartwatch with this feature.

    Notifications

    I use my phone mainly for notifications. I must get anywhere between 50 and 100 mails a day from 7 or 8 accounts, I get 30 or so messages from Whatsapp, and I sometimes get calls, SMSs. Rather than having to dig out my phone each time something comes through, I can just glance at my watch very quickly to see who or what it is. If it is important, then I might get the phone out to deal with it. This is by far the greatest feature for me and is worth the money just for that.

    Stylish.

    I have the silver metal wrist strap version of the Motorola 360 and frankly it looks and feels good. It is classic looking and most people don't realize it's a smartwatch until it lights up or I start touching it. And then they are impressed. Their first question is 'How much was it?' In my view, this shows that people are interested. Most, and I mean most, never knew that smartwatches existed. If they do know what a smartwatch is, they almost invariably ask me 'is that an Apple Watch? '. Shows how TV advertising does increase awareness.

    Conclusion

    I like my watch and I am keen to buy a better one. But there's not much on the market just yet. The Huawei watch is nice and you can now take calls on your watch which might be useful sometimes. How often do you miss a call but you need to find your phone or take it out of your pocket etc and the call has gone onto your answering machine? Being able to answer a call on the watch would help with this.

    So I am looking for a good-looking watch which is not overly-expensive, ie. about €300 max but would prefer €200, a watch that could add even more convenience. The software could be 'cooler' in design on Android and Android 2.0 looks like it is going somewhere in the right direction. I hate the 'OK Google' that you have to say to activate voice recognition and frankly I don't use it much even though it works pretty well. They need to change the 'OK Google' signal. It is dumb and makes you feel and look dumb too. LG are releasing a new watch but I don't like LG much and it is going to be expensive. I think I'll wait for the Motorola 360 3rd generation.

    Maybe I am a little different from the mass market but I really couldn't live without my smartwatch now. It is just too convenient and makes me less glued to my smartphone. And I don't miss a message.

  55. Nameless Faceless Computer User

    I started wearing an actual analog watch again. It displays the date. Haven't replaced the battery since I've owned it.

  56. The Boojum

    Please don't get rid of them. They provide instant visual identification of people who are best avoided.

  57. matt-c

    Just because you don't get smart watches doesn't mean you can claim to have "told us so".

    My wife and I love our Apple Watches and have worn them and gained valuable utility every day since they launched, of course not all will have the same view, but don't claim that your view has somehow been validated. Not yet, far to early.

    People pay much more than they cost just for something that tells the time. For me wearing a non smart watch is now stupid due to that fact alone.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have a watch

    It

    a) tells me the time and the date.

    It is also in a titanium case, has a sapphire crystal and is fitted with a metal wristband. It is therefore

    b) tough enough to use to punch the lights of of the kind of person who insists on using "leverage" as a verb and regards a smart watch as ... well, smart.

    I can't for the life of me, think of any other use I would like to have incorporated (and its not that I haven't tried). Even b) above, whilst satisfying, is pretty well optional.

    1. matt-c

      Re: I have a watch

      Did you hold off for years on a smart phone also per chance?

      Thankfully there are plenty of folk who can and do think about how to make the wrist watch more useful. The tech is in early stages, but dumb watches days are numbered.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I have a watch

        Sorry, can't hep you there. I have have a smart phone for many years. No Apple products, though, but all were nice enough to do email, a bit of mobile web browsing and looking after the central heating for those times me and the missus are unexpectedly away. Jolly useful too. Latest few have taken nice photos to boot (after making due allowance for the tiny lens)

        Be interested to see by what the dumb watch does eventualy get replaced.

  59. naive

    What is smart ?.

    Having enough of going to the jewelry shop to have the batteries replaced, not wanting to buy for $30,- stuff on Ebay to do it myself, my battery operated quarz watches are like a dead pile of junk in a box, and i bought the smartest watch ever seen: Seiko 5 automatic for some $ 140,-. It is < 1 min. off per month, always runs, tells the time in darkness without pushing buttons and looks great.

    Beautiful piece of engineering.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What is smart ?.

      Jewellery not jewelry. Where a jeweller works, rather than a jewler (Much as confederacy not confedracy, brewery not brewry)

  60. Annihilator

    Confused

    "Why does a smartwatch need to have a local cache of MP3 files? Well, the use case put forward is that the owner goes jogging, but still wants to hear some music, but doesn’t want to take calls. So the Apple Watch can store music locally, but your calls go back to voicemail, on wherever you’ve left your iPhone. "

    The article seems to contradict itself throughout... The above was meant to be (I think) an example of how there were too many features, yet then basically yells "HA!" and criticises it because it doesn't have enough features like taking calls? Baffling.

    I completely understand why a fitness tracking device, in fitness tracking mode (jogging), only does music and fitness.

  61. matt-c

    I just bought a beer with my iWatch - the end :o)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If an Android Wear watch can do Android Pay (since pulling the phone out of a tight pocket or a crowded, messy purse and then unlocking it which is a requirement for Android Pay can be a pain), I'll consider it again. I have a Samsung Gear (bought it used so not much doled out), and while it has its uses it's too limited and not well integrated.

  62. 0laf Silver badge

    Haven't seen anyone with an Apple Watch or a Gear or a Moto. I have seen quite a few people now wearing Garmin Smartwatches

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    £50 Fitbit with a payment chip

    ...or a 10-EUR Mi Band with same. Telling the truth, I would say that a device like this is way more useful than all this smartwatch nonsense... Here is what my Mi Band (don't own a Fitbit but I wouldn't be surprised if it supported similar things) can do, in addition to tracking fitness:

    - wake me up (and that it can do even when the phone is not around) without waking up everyone around;

    - let me know when there is an incoming call or a text has just arrived

    - let me know when apps of my choice generate notifications

    - proximity-unlock my phone (it is compatible with Android's SmartLock)

    - survive for around a month without recharging

    - do all of the above while staying out of my way because it is tiny

    - be managed using apps other than the official Xiaomi one

    - be worn pretty much anywhere by popping it out of the band and transferring it into an appropriately shaped alternative holder (quite a few of which can already be found on eBay)

    - generally vibrate quite strongly and on demand, which in combination with the previous point... okay, okay, I'll get my coat.

    As far as I am concerned, if it had a payment chip and a tiny text-only display, it would be pretty much perfect. So it needs the phone to be nearby for most of those things. Big deal, so do most smartwatches.

  64. Dave 13
    Facepalm

    When they get the battery life over a month without recharging I'll be interested. Till then, it's an expensive lifestyle accessory for tech fashionistas.

  65. natejgardner

    What?

    What are you talking about? I completely love my Huawei watch! It saves me quite a lot of time and allows me to see whether a notification is important at a glance without rudely taking my phone out during conversation. I use it for navigation regularly, the maps app is really useful! Its biometric features are great. The pedometer is more accurate than my phone and I use it to track my sleep. The battery lasts two or three days and when I do need to charge, it often reaches capacity in less than an hour. I love this about it, because the operations I do on my watch keep me from draining my phone battery unnecessarily. I'm sorry you don't like smart watches, but mine has been worth the $350 for me.

    1. energystar
      Childcatcher

      Re: What?

      "...and allows me to see whether a notification is important at a glance without rudely taking my phone out during conversation."

      Once known you're reading, just as rude.

  66. Lucky2BHere

    Must've been beat with a watch when a kid

    Like a bunch of other people here, I flat don't agree. I've had two watches since the first Moto360 and have found them to be *very* useful. They were never designed to replace, but to augment. And in situations where you don't need the whole phone thing, they are perfect. Driving, biking, eating, on the phone, even walking down a street needing directions or to answer a quick text. Those, right there, are the sweet spots.

    And I want to sock anyone who complains about cost! Really? I can pay wwaaayyy more for a much less interesting-looking watch that only tells the time. $300 for a decent watch is a no-brainer. But apparently, when you add functions and convenience, the value goes down?! $150 for an Asus Zenwatch 2, for example - a great-looking piece - is a steal. My Huawei was $350 and has been dead reliable and extremely useful. Now going on 8 months with it, I'm looking forward to the 2.0 update, too. Nothing at all wrong here.

  67. paul 194

    ebay ...Zeblaze Crystal great not a overloaded OS just great and great value £40. go out all night and leave your phone in your pocket .

  68. martinusher Silver badge

    Its an idea that's never really been practical

    My first smartwatch was a cheap Timex Ironman -- it was cheap because it didn't sell particularly well. I didn't need a watch but I thought a USB interface and programming environment for a watch was neat. I made a toy application for it -- a chore since it was a Z80 with virtually no usable RAM -- and left it at that. Its still a good watch, though.

    My second smartwatch was a Google watch type device, ordered from China for $28. It does all the basic stuff - sends and receives texts, voice via Bluetooth, sleep tracker -- and it even tells the time. I got it to amuse myself since the Apple Watch had just come out and we had these early adopters willing to drop $600 or so on one. I don't use mine.

    The future of computing isn't devices. Things like Amazon's Echo are pointing the way -- instead of a 'thing' its a 'presence' -- there but at the same time not there, ready to provide information and do stuff but otherwise not some kind of fashion accessory. I need a phone when I'm out and about but I don't really need the phone as much as the connectivity.....the phone's just the way I carry the digital world around with me.

  69. AlanT1

    Basic watch function

    I tend to agree with a lot of this opinion, just what is a smartwatch for? Is it a watch or is it a mini phone on a wrist?

    It surely must be high on the marketing track of built in obsolescence and no matter how much you paid for the most expensive and popular of brand, my guess is that one of the multiple of factors that combine to make the smartwarch function will run out of time and the item will be confined to the back of a drawer somewhere.

    Not that I am immune from the appeal of technology I just prefer a watch to be a watch. I like my watch to tell the time, the day and the date. I like a second time zone. I like it to set itself to the correct time for where in the world I travel.

    I need it to be waterproof and always to be operational so no charging or seals to replace changing batteries.

    I achieve all of this using a Bluetooth watch that is paired to my phone. It used a solar cell to provide the power and is waterproof not to 1m but 100m.

    Of course it does a few other things but nothing like a smart watch and no screen, just a traditional watch face.

    That is the technology for my watch.

  70. Brian Allan 1

    Dick Tracy had a workable "watch" BUT the technology has gone down hill ever since! Smart watches are either a really a dumb idea or really dumb people are conned into buying them; take your pick...

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019