The first of a long line of expected smartwatches is likely to be announced next week. Next Wednesday, Samsung is likely to announce a very big new smartphone (the Galaxy Note III) and a very small mobile device, a smartwatch that may go by the name Galaxy Gear.
Samsung will be the first to strike a blow in the smartwatch Arm Race. The gadget rumors in 2013 have companies like Apple, LG and Google also contemplating smartwatches to be released this fall. As yet, no firm announcements have been made.
What exactly will Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch be? Will it be its own self-contained unit; a smartphone strapped to your wrist? Or will it be a device that must pair with your smartphone to get a cellular connection and receive messages?
Notorious gadget-rumor monger @evleaks is at it again with the Galaxy Gear smartwatch. This time he has screenshots of the Galaxy Gear app that shows the smartwatch can be paired to smartphone using Near Field Communications (NFC). The smartwatch can, at the very least, run apps made by Samsung (such as it S Health tracker). It will likely run on Google’s Android operating system, as all other Galaxy mobile devices do.
Now, do you really want to wear a computer on your wrist? To be, quite literally, tethered to your mobile device, always on, always ready to send you messages and track your whereabouts? This is where the potential consumers have diverging opinions.
I think a fully functional smartwatch is a fun, cool new idea in the history of computing and be very lucrative to popular manufacturers. I want a smartwatch that can help me track my progress on a 60-mile bike ride and take pictures of my destination and let me send them to my friends via text message or social media. I want to be Dick Tracy, damn it, and I don’t want to have to pair my smartwatch to my smartphone to be able to make it work.
ReadWrite Editor-in-Chief Owen Thomas has a distinctly different point of view. He doesn’t want computers that are just a way to shift a notification from one screen to another. Or that are just another gadget for the sake of gadgetry.
“We don’t need computers to wear on our head, or wrists, or arms. We need computers that fade into the background. Forget wearable computing. It’s time for disappearable computing.”
Steve Smith, the editor of Mobile Marketing Daily at MediaPost was a little bit more candid in his notion of the smartwatch as abhorrent:
But a watch? Please — not a watch. Make a smart patch and slap it on my ass. Put a hearing-aid like nub in my ear. Implant a screen on my forearm. Put a projector on my fitband so it can throw an image on the desk. If we must give a nod to the past in order to move into the future, let’s pick another aging accessory. Give my pen an IQ. Educate my bow tie. How about smart suspenders, intelligent garters, thoughtful spats, insightful girdles, gifted berets, a brilliant monocle? Anything but a smart watch.
The divergent views and Owen and I are likely to be played out among consumers everywhere. Either you like the idea of a smartwatch and can’t wait to get one, or you think it is the lamest new product ever invented. Much of consumers’ opinions will end up being based on how cool and useful the product is perceived to be and we won’t know that until Samsung, Apple and Google actually give us these watches for perusal.
That is the question in this week’s ReadWrite Mobile poll. Would you wear a smartwatch? Why or why not? Take the poll and let us know what you think in the comments.