You can ask just about anyone: For quite some time, I thought wearables were on the brink of taking over our lives. And they may still be, but it seems to me that my internal excitement may have been premature. Google Glass fueled most of my anticipation, but smartwatches were definitely an area that intrigued me too. I told myself that all wearables needed was for Apple to make an entrance, and then platforms like Android Wear and Pebble would become quickly ubiquitous.
It may be too early to tell, but that doesn’t seem to be what’s happening — at least not yet. And while ASUS, LG, Huawei, and Motorola have some revamped hardware entries coming very soon, I’m just not that excited anymore. Why? Mostly because I just don’t have a compelling need for wearables in their current form. I have Google Glass and I have an LG G Watch R, but neither have become anything close to a daily driver for me. I still have no reason to use Android Wear.
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That’s not to say that the space doesn’t have any potential. The functionality of smartwatches seems to be an area that grows every day, and slowly but surely developers have started to release some really interesting use cases for the devices. I personally haven’t found much use for my G Watch, but I’ve definitely heard from people that do use their Android Wear smartwatch or their Apple Watch every day. For some these watches are critical. For others, quick access to a notification pane on their wrist is enough. Not so for me.
I got my hands on the G Watch R in January of this year, and since then, I’ve actually worn it on my wrist a total of maybe 20 or 30 days. What were those days? Most of them were when I was at technology conferences (Google I/O and CES for example), and when I was going on multiple-hour long road trips. I write all day every day, so I’m typically at my desk with 5 phones on my desk and a laptop. Why do I need another device on my wrist to tell me for the 7th time that someone replied to my tweet?
And when I do leave the house — which is every day at one point or another, for the recond — I’m usually trying to get away from my technology addiction. They — Google, I’m looking at you and your Glass propaganda — tell me that using wearables will let me be in the moment and experience my life while still staying connected, but I’ve personally never felt this. If I’m going out to the movies or to a park, the last thing I want to do is stay connected with the “digital world,” and it’s easy to forget my half-charged G Watch on my desk.
Maybe it’s simply that my lifestyle is just not one suited for wearables. Although a lot of people definitely do, not everyone is in front of a computer for most of their day. Not everyone is constantly following the tech news cycle and looking desperately for that moment that they get to escape their Twitter feeds and HipChat rooms. A lot of people can benefit from having the ability to quickly reply to a text from their wrist while on a jog. If I get to go on a jog, though, I don’t want to text anyone.
So, in turn, I’m not really excited about the wearables that are coming at IFA next week. Motorola, Huawei, ASUS, and others have some new Android Wear watches to show us, but I can’t say that I’ll be buying any of them. They’re expensive, Android Wear simply isn’t all that smart yet, and I can’t fathom a possible hardware upgrade — besides battery life — that would warrant another $200 purchase. Even battery life is iffy for me; I’ve found my G Watch R to last a full day without problem. Until we can have weeks or months, why do you need more if you charge every night anyway?
Truthfully, until I have access to a smartwatch that does way more (like video chatting, maybe), with way longer battery life (I’m talking ignore the thing for weeks), and with a physical design that’s comfortable and sleek enough that I can sleep with it on, I’m probably not going to be a daily user of a smartwatch. I think there might even be more potential in Google Glass-like devices in the near-term for me, especially if there was something nearly unnoticeable built into the pair of glasses that I already need to wear.
For now, Google is making some small steps forward. The recent update to Android Wear brings interactive watch faces to the platform — something that it desperately needed to compete with features like Digital Touch from the Apple Watch. In fact, Digital Touch would be pretty great if everyone owned an Apple Watch. It seems to be a pretty convenient way to communicate with your friends using quick taps. Maybe the Together watch face will make similar things possible on Android Wear.
But even these improvements aren’t going to make me pull out my Android Wear smartwatch and excitedly anticipate the update. Maybe it’s a slow burning flame that will one day erupt into a ubiquitous part of all of our lives, but it kind of just disappoints me that these devices just aren’t what I thought they would be. Maybe I was too optimistic, and maybe I just wanted to be the first to jump on the bandwagon of some new kind of revolutionary technology. But I’ll happily (well, maybe not happily) admit that I’m still just not thrilled with wearables at all yet. It kind of bums me out a bit, but Android Wear still just doesn’t do it for me. Yet.