What the Heck Is a Smartwatch, and Why Might I Want One?
You might have seen that Google announced some big news involving smartwatches on Tuesday. Google created a tweaked version of its Android operating system that will make it easy and cheap for other tech companies, including Samsung, HTC, and LG, to create smartwatches that run Google’s software.
The upshot here is that there are going to be way, way more smartwatches in electronics stores in the coming months.
But wait a second. Let’s take a step back. You might have never seen a smartwatch. You might not know what one is. We’re here to answer all your questions about this new category of tech products, which could join the smartphone and the tablet as the new must-have gadgets.
What is a smartwatch?
Our columnist David Pogue recently tackled the topic of what makes a device “smart.” Throwing “smart” in front of something usually means that the device is connected to the Internet in some way or another.
So “smartwatch” generally refers to a watch that connects to the Internet, and also to other devices like smartphones or tablets, in order to deliver real-time information to your wrist. You can think of it as a watch that does more than just keep time, with some basic functions similar to those you might find on a smartphone.
As smart as these new watches may be, they still require a connection to a smartphone or tablet to be fully-functional. They’re basically companions or add-ons to the smarter device in your pocket.
Who makes them?
The first “big name” gadget maker to hit us with a full-effort smartwatch launch has been Samsung. The company now offers two versions of its Galaxy Gear smartwatch, which can retrieve text messages, control your television, and track your activity. (See? It’s smart.)
Samsung’s Gear 2
Probably the closest thing to Samsung’s Galaxy Gear is Sony’s SmartWatch 2, which also performs several of the more basic smartphone functions right on your wrist.
The Pebble smartwatch, meanwhile, was introduced in early 2013, a Kickstarter project turned hit. Cheaper than both the Gear 2 and the SmartWatch 2, the Pebble is notable for having a screen made from E Ink (like you’d find on Amazon’s Kindle e-reader) to conserve its battery. Though the Pebble can last longer, it lacks some of the more sophisticated features of either Sony’s or Samsung’s offerings.