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Stupid backwards watch

26 May 2013 by superlative

Blog every day in May topic – Something you read online. Leave a link and discuss, if you’d like

I read a lot of things online. It’s pretty much all I do all day when I find I haven’t got very much work to do. Sometimes I feel like I’ve read every article on the BBC News website, because all the links have changed to the visited colour where I’ve at least skimmed them.

So picking one thing I’ve read, and that I thought you might find interesting, wasn’t all that easy. In the end I chose this:

Do we need watches to tell us more than the time? – BBC News

It’s an article by their tech people about smartwatches, discussing what’s already available and when and if they might become the next big thing.

I love technology and I love gadgets. I don’t spend all that much money on them, I’m too tight-fisted, but I love looking at them in shops and I’ll occasionally treat myself to a middle-of-the-range reasonably priced version of something cool. I wish I had enough money to buy all the things that excite me. At the same time though, I think they’re more exciting when you don’t or can’t have them – I’ve seen quite a lot of examples of buyer’s remorse with gadgets. Only a few weeks ago I desperately, desperately wanted a Nexus 7 tablet and couldn’t stop looking at them on the internet. Then I went into Curry’s and played with one for five minutes, realised I’d never use it for anything, and thought thank fuck I didn’t order one. They’re lovely and very reasonably priced, but they don’t fill any need in my life that isn’t already covered by other technology, so there was just no point.

I do quite like the idea of a smartwatch though, if they end up being able to perform enough useful functions. I can imagine finding a watch much more convenient than a phone – because it’s always there on your wrist, you can’t drop it accidentally, and you can’t leave it lying around. I don’t actually use my phone as a phone very often at all; it’s just a small computer than can connect via 3G and which happens to be able to make phone calls.

The only real issue I have with the concept of a smartwatch is that the screen is always going to be small. I have particularly slender wrists (I’m willowy), so even if Samsung went their usual way of making an outsized device in order to create more screen space, I could never actually wear it.

So how will companies overcome that? I really don’t know. The things I use my phone for most are browsing the internet, social media things, and listening to music. It fills a gap in my life when I’m not sat in front of a computer, basically, so I’m pretty much always on some form of computer while I’m awake now. I don’t see that there are many things I do on my phone that could be transferred over to a watch completely. Using a watch as a second screen for your phone, like the Pebble, is a reasonable idea, but it only lets you do quite small things and it wouldn’t be enough to make me buy one.

Maybe the answer is that the watch needs to do things I don’t currently do on my phone, so that rather than trying to take things away from an already successful technology, it carves out its own niche in my life. But what those things could be, I really don’t know.

No doubt I’ll do what I always do – wait a few years until the technology has been polished up by the early adopters and the price has come down, then join the party late. The thought of what could happen with watches though makes my current watch, with its little analogue hands moving slowly around driven by cogs, look bizarrely prehistoric.

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