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Apple and Android wearables: What iceberg? It’s full steam ahead!

Simon Rockman

A broken watch tells the right time twice a day?

Not if it's a smart watch.

This is the dawn of the smartphone again. Phones went from having a three week battery life to one day. My watch as a three year battery life. No amount of functionality compensates for the pain of having to remember to charge every night.

Smartwatches are a device looking for a need.

Simon

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: A broken watch tells the right time twice a day?

I'm not sure I agree that charging a watch every night is all that hard. I leave mine on, but most people I know take their watch off when they go to bed. If the charging cable / pad is already on the bedside table - why's that so hard to do? Not that I have a smart watch, given I'd have to take my reading glasses out of my bag to be able to do anything other than telling the time on that small a screen, whereas I can get my phone out of my pocket one-handed and the text is set large enough to squint at without glasses.

It's the same with phones though. They need a daily charge, and you just get used to it. It goes on the table by the bed, with the alarm set to wake me up, so it ain't hard to plug it in. This one has a coil in the back, so I could get a charging pad if I liked, but £25 seems like too much money to save the oh so onerous task of picking up the end of the lead from the table-top and shoving it in the phone as I put it down.

Admittedly it's a bit harder when you travel, and you've got phone and tablet chargers to remember. And if it's for longer cords for shaver and toothbrush too. So adding an extra phone charger and possibly another adapter is more of an annoyance.

Stuart Castle

Re: A broken watch tells the right time twice a day?

While I don't do a lot of travelling, I use a multi usb port charger (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Release-Anker-PowerPort-Charging-Multi-Port/dp/B00VTI8K9K/ref=sr_1_5?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1466174380&sr=1-5&keywords=anker+charger) which makes things a *lot* easier. You just need to remember to pack the adaptor and the relevant USB cables for your devices.

A. Coatsworth

Re: A broken watch tells the right time twice a day?

"It's the same with phones though. They need a daily charge, and you just get used to it."

That, Mr Ain't Spartacus, is exactly the problem. Phones and smartwaches *should* be a solution to a problem, not a new source of problems.

Granted, plugging the phone to charge every other night and the smartwacht every night is a minor annoyance but instead of making my life easier they are introducing a new tasks. I am working for them instead of they working for me. And what is the trade-off? what new functionality do they bring to the table, what problem do they solve?

"Solution looking for a problem" is an understatement

I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

Re: A broken watch tells the right time twice a day?

what new functionality do they bring to the table, what problem do they solve?

Smartphones? Well compared with green screen multi-day batter life phones you get sat-nav, decent email clients, the internet, bus and train timetable apps, mobile banking (if you trust it), music playback, podcasts, games. Yup they're definitely worth the extra hassle of daily charging. Particularly as the batteries prefer to be kept above 50% nowadays, so even though mine easily lasts two days I charge it overnight anyway.

As for smart watches? I don't get it myself. Once you're doing something on the watch, you may as well pull the phone out, and have a bigger screen.

But then I hate the internet on my 5" phone screen. And so if I'm doing anything more than looking up an address or timetable I'll just tether the phone to my tablet, and use that.

It's horses for courses and each to their own. What works for one person, doesn't for another.

On the other hand, £400 watches that only last for a year or two before needing to be replaced seem awfully expensive. Particularly given how nice a phone you can get for under £200 now, the top-end phones are a rip-off to be avoided in my book. But if you've got a bit of money spare and fancy some techno-bling, who am I to argue.

MiguelC Silver badge

Re: A broken watch tells the right time twice a day?

Reminds me of some holidays, long time ago, using my first digital camera. Having checked the battery was fully charged; off I went to a 4 day trek through the Amazon forest (at a time where Amazon could only mean forest or river).

On the second night, whilst watching “jacarés” in a canoe in the middle of a river branch, the battery went flat (after taking a total maybe 20 shots since getting there).

Luckily, when we came back to the base camp, I dug around my backpack to find the old analogical camera that took all the remaining shots of that wonderful trip!

Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

Re: A broken watch tells the right time twice a day?

Sure, my first digital camera went through AA's as if they were going out of fashion.

My modern DSLR battery is good for around 1,000 shots. Possibly less if I'm doing a lot of birds in flight and using the lest to track them keeping them in focus.

But a replacement battery is pretty small. It easily fits into a pocket or a daysack.

I'm coming to the end of a 3 week trip in the USA. So far I've taken close on 4000 pictures (many 20 frame panoramas) and I've charged the battery four times.

Things have moved on since those early days.

So, back to the watch. My guess is that in 3-4 years, we may wonder what all the fuss was about. OTOH, we may well laugh and realise that wearable like this were a passing fad. Only time will tell.

brotherelf

Re: A broken watch tells the right time twice a day?

> sat-nav, decent email clients, the internet, bus and train timetable apps, mobile banking (if you trust it), music playback, podcasts, games

Approximately half of those were already possible on later-era Palm devices. (OK, not "decent" mail clients to handle thousands of mails.) But yes, most things that give you today's Teh Intarwebz will have a fairly large power drain.

(I would still be amused to find out just how much runtime you could get if you built a Palm-class device with today's production processes, LiPo battery, and eInk display)

Queasy Rider

Re:battery went flat

Bought one of those new-fangled (I think) binocular cameras about a dozen years ago. Cheap as dirt at WalMart, eventually owned 3 of them, have a box of Aiptek pen cameras somewhere. Got some amazing alligator close-ups around home, and candid shots of friends out boating, so I took it camping one weekend. Great shots of kids rope swinging over a pool of water, scaling small cliffs, body surfing in river rapids, all the kind of natural pix you can get with a binoc that the kids don't ham it up for. Sadly the unit didn't have a memory card, and the battery died on the way home, along with the internal memory (old technology). I awoke then and there to the simple fact... digi-cams are stupid without memory cards. Sigh.

Ledswinger Silver badge

Re: A broken watch tells the right time twice a day?

"Solution looking for a problem" is an understatement

Given the many, many shortcomings, what we have here is a problem searching for another problem.

In the wider scheme of things, this would appear to be proof of the gulf between Tim Cook and Steve Jobs. Can anybody imagine Jobs letting smart watches escape the development lab? Or actually proudly announcing that Apple are intentionally bringing "complications" to this or any product?

therebel

Re: A broken watch tells the right time twice a day?

I have a Vector smartwatch, use it everyday and charge it once per month. It's not perfect but handy for a quick glance to see an email, text, call (see who is calling) etc without taking my phone out my pocket. E-ink displays are an obvious choice on a watch, no idea why the others insist on colour and touchscreen resulting in daily charging.

LDS Silver badge

Complications: borrowed from mechanical watches.

In a mechanical watch, a "complication" is whatever function is added to the basic time telling. Chronometer, alarms, Moon phases, etc. are all "complications", because they make the design of a watch mechanism much more complicated.

Apple makes them complications for the user only....

Darryl

Re: Complications: borrowed from mechanical watches.

Complications to me evokes "There were complications during the surgery,"

Really not a good name for something that's claimed to make your life easier

TheOtherHobbes

Re: Complications: borrowed from mechanical watches.

It's not. But it is the industry standard name in ExpensiveWatchLand.

Apple's mistake is assuming users know that.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Complications: borrowed from mechanical watches.

Darryl

You got there 18 hours ahead of me. Except I'd have made it more, .......the surgery had been going well, but then there were complications and we couldn't save......etc.

Montreal Sean

Re: Complications: borrowed from mechanical watches.

Complications during my surgery meant my heart stopped twice and had to be restarted.

Bad associations for that word mean I have a "Do I really want a watch with more complications?" reaction to all this.

Thomas Wolf

Author seems strangely unfamiliar with Apple Watch

"payment support was added." - No, payment support has existed since Apple Watch came out - payment support within 3rd-party applications have been added.

"WatchOS 3 (note the subtle leap-frogging over the more established platform) " - what leap-frogging? My Apple Watch is running watchOS 2!

Dave 126 Silver badge

Re: Author seems strangely unfamiliar with Apple Watch

Aye.

Other reviews of Watch OS 3.0 suggest that it makes things simpler for users, in part by making less use of the 'digital crown' and using touchscreen more - actions that are already familiar to iPhone users.

For my taste, the Apple Watch does too much - but that's me. A small, tough watch (stainless steel and sapphire ) with an oh-so-useful rotating bezel does me fine. If something similar with some discreet LED for notifications was made, I might be tempted.

Queasy Rider

Re: subtle leap-froggingatch

I think the author is implying that rather than simply naming the Apple watch OS 2.1 to briefly be a step ahead of Android, they chose to leap ahead with the designation 3.0, much like MS did, jumping from Win 8.1 to Win 10.

chr0m4t1c

Re: subtle leap-froggingatch

Unfortunately watchOS 2.2 came out in March, so calling it 2.1 might lead to confusion.

They're calling it 3.0 because they've made cosmetic changes to the user interface, performance changes to the main OS and introduced a bunch of new APIs for developers to use. I'd say it was fair to call it a new major release rather than 2.3, because a point release doesn't usually have anything more than half a dozen new features and some bug fixes.

Kevin Johnston Silver badge

Watching the payment

Had to laugh at that ending. I have also seen someone trying to pay with their watch which was difficult as they had their phone in the other hand along with their coffee....in the end they gave up trying to twist their arm off to get the watch lined up, put the coffee down and paid with the phone.....serious progress there

Pascal Monett Silver badge

So that makes two sad losers brilliantly demonstrating how useless the bloody things actually are.

As for me, I am 50 this year and I try very hard to make my life simpler, not more complicated than it already is.

James 51 Silver badge

Looks like my first gen pebble steel is safe for now.

david bates

Yup.

As I've said before Pebble gets it right and just works. I always thought I'd upgrade to an Android if the smart watch use case worked for me, but Im sticking with the Pebble.

IrishFella

Same here, don't know what to think of the new versions.

James 51 Silver badge

I think the pivot to pfitbit is unfortunate. Discrete notification, long battery life and excellent screen (particularly in direct sunlight) and the three things that made them stand out for me.

spe

I agree with all your Pebble plus points. However the step counting that arrived unexpectedly back in December kept it on my wrist when Apple's iOS9 bluetooth stack failures were about to consign by Pebble Time Steel to the drawer of obscure and redundant technology that I seem to have collected over the years.

6 months later and the BT stack keeps failing on my iPhone 6s, but the PTS is still on my wrist just to beat my previous daily counts.

The new ones will have a far larger screen, which will mean that my 50+ yo eyes will be able to read it without squinting.

Tom 35 Silver badge

I have a Time and have backed the Time2 for it's larger screen, and steel case.

I'll have to wait and see if the heart rate monitor is of any use.

sandman

Apple Genius

My ex-boss had been contemplating buying an Apple watch for ages (he likes visible status symbols) but even he couldn't find a use-case for one. He was finally sold one by, in this case, an aptly named Apple Genius. His line of patter was simple yet effective. "Of course you don't need one, nobody NEEDS one."

DougS Silver badge

Re: Apple Genius

Truth in marketing? Obviously he never went to business school, they sure as heck don't teach that!

The only person I know with an Apple Watch (or any sort of smart watch) that actually gets real use out of it is a realtor. She's driving around all the time and is constantly getting text messages, emails, calls etc. She says she doesn't have to move her hands off the wheel to quickly glance at her wrist to see who it is from, so she'll know whether it is regarding an active deal where she needs to pull over and respond - she's one of those rare people who understands that 'hands free' use of a phone has been proven just as dangerous....probably the only realtor in the world who isn't constantly on the phone while driving.

Before she had her iPhone tied into her car's audio system and it would announce these things, but she found the 98% of it she can ignore distracting and stressing. She likes playing music to relax while she's driving and the constant interruptions defeated the goal. So for her, a smartwatch was actually useful.

That's one person out of maybe a half dozen I know with an Apple Watch, and a couple with some form of Android, the rest of whom have it because they think it is cool, buy whatever Apple sells, or because they're a geek who thinks all tech is automatically useful. I'm not counting Fitbit, because all I've ever seen anyone do with that is count steps.

Mage Silver badge

not the ground-breaking revamp

Because such a thing is fantasy!

You might eventually get better battery life.

it might be useful without internet or the phone (I have a smart watch with GSM phone built in (mini-SIM) that cost under $20 and runs for 3 days, but I don't use it for web, just hands free voice phone calls and text without the phone).

The audio dictation is good. (It has a micro SD card and USB storage mode).

The camera is rotten. For $10 more you can get one with a better camera.

It has all the typical kinds of useless apps.

Slow incremental improvement of what is basically a kids toy.

ma1010 Silver badge
Thumb Down

It all sounds rather...

well, er...complicated. As well as fairly pointless. Sort of like a phone, but with a more difficult interface and limited feature set.

As the poster above mentioned, quoting a "Genius," it's quite true that "Nobody NEEDS one." So it's basically something for status-conscious wankers to use to impress others who are equally shallow? Good to know.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Tony Stark

Never has to charge his Iron Man suit and he built that in a cave...with a box of scraps.

-IronMonger

Voyna i Mor Silver badge

Bootnote

I don't know about Apple Pay but Android Pay works for me everywhere except W H Smith*. Just use a phone of a reasonable size and a watch is a bit redundant.

*most useless automatic checkout ever? The output tray can't detect things like cards so it ignores them - and double entry is therefore all too easy. But - there are no assistants unless you call for help.

fidodogbreath Silver badge

Smartwatch = YACTx

Yet Another Computer To...

* Buy

* Maintain

* Troubleshoot

* Remember to charge

* Fail, right when I need it

* Throw away when it's obsolete in a year and a half

"Buy a smartwatch. Because you need even more crappy electronics and balky software in your life."

ecofeco Silver badge

Re: Smartwatch = YACTx

Nailed it.

Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

World's Largest Metaphor Hits Ice-Berg

There's just enough room on your wrist to display the current time. That's why watches go there. It seems obvious that, regardless of application features, watches will remain a failure as long as they're visually driven with no almost visual area. This all seems like a huge waste of money unless somebody is working on top-secret technologies for projection or effective non-visual interaction.

(Credit to The Onion for the Titanic headline)

Steve Todd

Is that the sound of an ax being ground?

One could be mistaken for thinking that Mr Orlowski has something in for smart watches, rather than just hit whoring that he usually does. He personally can't see the point in them, but apparently there are millions of people who can. If you don't want something then don't buy it. Don't think yours is the only opinion though, and don't try to put down those who think otherwise. If the manufacturer makes money out of their product then enough people have voted that they disagree with you.

allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

Re: Is that the sound of an ax being ground?

Somebody told him that Stephen Fry was behind smart watches.

ecofeco Silver badge

Re: Is that the sound of an ax being ground?

A gimmick is a gimmick no matter how many people buy it and should be called out as such.

Tim99 Silver badge

An analogy

The watches I wear have to be manually wound up every day, funnily enough, I remember to wind them; and on the rare occasions that I have let them run down, I wind them, look at the time elsewhere and set it. I have owned four "decent" watches. Two required a battery that needed to be replaced occasionally, and when they stopped I needed to find a battery supplier that was able to get the back off (Omegas are a bugger for that). I still use my mechanical watches, but not the battery ones.

The watch I wear most is a 75 year old Longines Professional that was bought new by my father for £5 when he was an RAF Observer in WWII. It was designed for aircrew (and Naval) use. It has a luminescent display with an hour, minute and sweep-second hands, and that is all - No date, stopwatch, or multiple time functions - Because if you are navigating an aircraft in the dark, when people are trying to shoot you down, that is all you need. Allowing for inflation it is still worth about 2 weeks wages, and it's only running costs have been for cleaning (about 6 times) and new straps. I like to think of it as being like UNIX, not flash but dependable. Smart watches may have a *NIX base, and be very accurate; but don't seem to be particularly good at what I use a watch for, which is telling me that it is nearly a quarter to three...

Paul Crawford Silver badge

Re: An analogy

I also have a couple of mechanical watches, one is self-winding if I wear it all day, otherwise needs wound up daily. But the thing is, I don't have to carry a special winder with me, nor do I need an compatible power point for the winder.

My usual watch is a Casio that is automatically set by radio and is solar charged. Had it now for several years and no battery change needed (and resulting leaky seals) so pretty happy with it. Now if a smart watch could do the same...

an it guy

Re: An analogy

hear hear on the the Casio watches.

Own a g-shock, and over 10 years on, same battery, and whatever it hits comes worse off (including the odd stone wall just to prove how tough it is). Only had to replace a plastic part because they broke - £12 including shipping. Not bad in my opinion.

Only considering a replacement given that the other plastic parts are starting to deteriorate and they make an all-metal watch now..

a pressbutton

I used to wear a watch until I got a reasonable smartphone that was worth carrying around (email/satnav/kindle etc) - at that point I realised that I was using the phone as a watch as well.

Call me when one of these watch devices make it worth leaving the phone at home.

energystar
Windows

The Marshall McLuhan by the book.

"It's full steam ahead!"

kmac499

Dumb watch Smart owner ?

Just had to make a major upgrade to my 20yo Seiko. Yup it needed a new battery and annoyingly it needs one nearly every four years. How inconvienent.

For holidays, I have a couple of small reproduction portable sun dials; .easily adjusts to local time, totally waterproof, accurate to +- 20mins, and of totally no interest to any local light fingered urchins. Plus at last measure their power source should be good for a few billion years yet.

Terry 6 Silver badge

Re: Dumb watch Smart owner ?

My Seiko Kinetic needs no winding or charging. I've had it for about nine years. However, it is supposed to have an annual service, costing £70. And that includes replacing the cell that stores the energy, which stopped holding a full charge after the first four or five years, so I have to wear it every day, at least for a few hours, or it will stop. But I have saved several times its cost by not having their expensive services.

Salts

I like my Magellan Echo

it's nice and simple just echo what is on the fitness app from the iphone when I am out for a run, battery lasts months and I can skip music tracks, flick through stats with a tap and cost 37.50 new from Tesco ebay selloff site, oh that price included a BLE heart rate monitor. Now that is smart :-)

ecofeco Silver badge

Re: I like my Magellan Echo

Simplicity and long battery life. That's how it's done.

Fred Dibnah
Coat

Version for taxi drivers

Wear 2.0 Guv.

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