What's With The Watch?

Tech Tip
Apple has been making a big splash with their new ads touting the Apple Watch. The media and Apple fans have been gushing about how the watch has been in the works for some time now and have more than expressed their enthusiasm for the product. So, this begs the question – what is the big deal and is it worth getting excited over?

Smart watches are not really new since manufacturers have been packing fitness technology into them for decades, most by adding pedometers and heart rate monitors. The new breed is meant to be either an independent piece of technology or one that works in sync with a smart phone. The Apple Watch is a hybrid of both, working with an iPhone or off of a WiFi network.

If you are an Apple iPhone user and looking at smart watches, this one is the one for you since it is designed to make using the iPhone easier. Watch can sync with an iPhone, so you can leave the phone in your pocket or nearby bag and address text messages, phone calls, and alerts from your wrist. Most models also have built-in WiFi so the watch can work without an iPhone and still sport functional apps and download internet content. When not in use as a device, the display is set to a watch face so it does not look like you are wearing an iPhone extension on your arm. The watch comes in over two dozen models so your fashion sense does not have to suffer.

Android users need not be jealous of iPhone owners, however, as there are watches designed to work with an Android phone. A list of manufacturers can be found on the Android website. Be aware that like Apple, the phone manufacturers often have their own models so do pay attention to the specs on the Android watches to make sure it will work with your phone. One example of a manufacturer-specific watch is the Samsung Gear. In some cases, you may need to upgrade the phone’s software or download an app to pair the phone and watch. Like the Apple Watch, the Android options sync to the phone to deliver text messages, phone calls and notifications to your wrist.

Aside from the phone manufacturers, there are independent watch makers who have designed devices to work with either iOS or Android. The main name in this area right now is Pebble, although you may see newer makers showing up on the crowd-source funding sites. With the Pebble, you will need to again check to make sure your watch is supported and download an app on your phone to work with the watch.

So, what is the bottom line on smart watches and should you look into one? The answer depends on how you currently use your phone, if the features offered would make it easier to do more with your phone than you are doing now or if you already have a watch you really like and do not want to replace. While people can be spotted wearing two watches because of the last item on the list, the real target audience is the demographic that has stopped wearing watches since their phones have a clock on them anyway and they are always using the phone. If this group includes you or you find yourself constantly having to dig out your phone to see if you missed a text, call, email or other app notification, then you should probably consider a smart watch for the convenience it offers. If you are not sure, but think that you might use the features of your phone more, it would be worth looking into the options that are available for your phone. Like all tech, it comes down to if you would really use it or if the watch would just end up being another gadget sitting on the desk or in a drawer.

-Laura N


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