Will smartwatches replace smartphones, what do you believe?
Do you know what your watch can actually do? If you’re an Apple Watch user, you’ve got an incredibly intelligent piece of kit on your wrist.
The Series 5 has an always-on display (that you can see in sunlight). It can store and play songs, podcasts and audiobooks. It can let you download whichever of the thousands of apps you’d like in the Apple Store. If you opt for cellular connectivity, you can send texts, make calls and stream your music, without your iPhone. It has sensors on the belly to monitor your heart rate and ECG. And that’s just a few top picks.
As smartwatches get smarter, it’s not inconceivable to think they might eventually replace smartphones altogether. Now cellular connectivity on your wearable is here, it’s not hard to imagine. So, will the advancement of smartwatches see smartphones become redundant?
The scene today
You get fitness trackers today. They are focussed on collecting data about your overall health. Devices like the Garmin Vivosmart and Fitbit range are dedicated to this. Smartwatches, however, are offering this and more.
Smartwatches are commonly coming with some basic health tracking as standard. They offer the ability to show you notifications, see calendar appointments, play music, answer calls and texts and interact with native and third-party apps.
Do smartwatches have the functionality to replace smartphones?
In short, no. Not yet.
Smartwatches are increasingly becoming more like smartphones in terms of features. But, they’re not on par yet. There are a lot of strides to take before your wearable can replicate what your phone can do.
The biggest challenge is battery life. Taking the Apple Watch Series 5 again, considered the best smartwatch on the market by many. It’s battery life is only around 18 hours on one charge.
On average, we use our phones for over 3 hours a day. If we’re expecting our smartwatches to do the same, they’re going to have to develop the battery life first.
Developing longer-lasting batteries on watches should be a priority. The Apple Watch has come up with a wireless charger, which is a decent step forward. What would be best is something that doesn’t require the removal of the device at all.
Fitness trackers offer better battery life. This is because they’re doing less. A smart fitness tracker will have far less time between charges.
Making the leap from smartphones to smartwatches isn’t just about the technology.
Our habits and behaviour affect our device use. Battery life is an important part of this behaviour. If you’re constantly having to take it off, you might forget it, lose it, or simply not bother. For those watches offering sleep monitoring, you have to decide when to take it off. What do you trade? Sleep data or daily activity data?
Battery life is just one thing. Screens, connectivity and features all need to improve in order to be a decent competitor to a smartphone. Another element is space.
The challenge is keeping smartwatches sleek and slim as well as adding sensors, chips and better batteries.
What about smart eyewear?
Is making a smartwatch to rival a smartphone the way forward? What alternatives are there?
Smart eyewear options are now complete with voice assistants that answer to commands like replying to emails. Augmented reality capabilities are being developed and some exciting stuff is being seen (literally). We all remember Google Glass, right?
No one single company has launched a pair of smart glasses into the mainstream. Yet. Amazon developed the Echo frames, complete with Alexa. There have been whispers of Apple working on something, too.
If smart eyewear makes its way into the market, smartphones and smartwatches might both be redundant. Your smart glasses could handle your calls and texts as well as social media, emails, web browsing and music streaming. If they can do these things better than a smartphone, who knows.
Back to smartwatches
Wearables are quickly becoming invaluable to everyday life. The more data they collect about us, the more they can accurately predict our behaviour. From this, you get a highly personal experience.
If you have smart devices at home, your smartwatch could talk to them and react. Say, for example, it’s Sunday night and you’re thinking about work. Your smartwatch could sense your increased stress levels. It would also know you have an important meeting in the morning, thanks to data from your emails or calendar. It could communicate this to your smart home devices. Your home devices could react by setting your smart lights to something comforting, turn the heating on and play some calming music or put your favourite show on the TV.
If the right technological advances are made to bring smartwatches on par with smartphones in terms of battery and functionality, this isn’t to say smartwatches will surpass smartphones. This would require a huge change in behaviour.
We don’t know what smartphones have in store for us in the future. Smartwatches may very well always be one step behind. Whilst advancements are being made, the competitor on the flank, smart eyewear, is doing the same and might beat both of them to the top spot. Either way, no one is forcing a person to choose between the three devices. If you wanted a smartwatch on your wrist, a smartphone in your pocket and smart glasses on your head, then you have every right to do so! It’s all down to personal choice.