Smartwatches: When they say no...

Smartwatches: When they say no...

Positive sounds never stand alone in the world of reviews. After last weeks positive sounds we move to the downside. Every type of gadget will naturally have some limitations, say no at times or will have areas for improvement. As with every new product, tweaking it over time will help to further finalize it. In our survey we have asked our smartwatch users what features might need a bit of 'tweaking' to make it perfect, and what feature is missing that they would add to their smartwatch? We now put together some of the flaws which have become visible in the experience of using a smartwatch, marked by our smartwatch users over all types of devices. So, what features should be addressed before they could kill the smartwatch?

Integration and useful apps

The smartwatch is all about convenience. Smartwatches rely on your smartphone to be nearby for internet, GPS and receiving notifications. However, compared to your watch, it's not always convenient to bring your phone everywhere you go. For instance, for the accuracy of activity tracking apps. Similarly the speed of the connection between the watch and the phone needs to be extremely fast to create this near real-time experience for the user. According to our survey, more than half of the respondents have indicated that there is still something to do about the integration between the smartwatch and the smartphone. One Apple watch user says that 'the speed of the watch and the response time for retrieving information should be significant better'.

Another user commented that 'the Pebble watch is somewhat lagging behind in functionality compared to the Apple watch. A better integration with smartphones would create a better experience'. 'They could also do a lot more with the Timeline, such as letting other apps interact with it.' In our positive article we also heard the opposite about the Pebble watch, where a user actually liked the stand-alone experience of the watch.

As all the other smartwatches are not stand-alone devices, it is also clear that there are 'not that many stand-alone smartwatch apps' available. 'It lacks a good range of useful apps, and the way they're integrated is not yet optimized'. An example is given for Whatsapp; it's not possible to open and view a conversation, let alone respond to a message that's been send to you.

Fitness Tracking

Although we have seen that the health and fitness monitor is previously given as positive feedback, 25% of the respondents indicate that 'adding some (or better) fitness tracking sensors would be nice'. Well, Pebble has heard this request already by introducing Pebble Health. Wearable technology is still largely seen as unnecessary for most people. A smartwatch for traking your fitness activity should be performing way better, in order to battle a straightforward  fitness band with its main fitness tracking purpose.

Pebble fitness

Battery life challenges

There clearly has been written a lot about a smartwatch's battery life and smartwatch providers already know and try to do something about it. It's not only a matter of massive battery drain of your watch; the battery of your smartphone runs out faster too. An Apple Watch user notes that: "On average I estimated that my phone drains around 20% faster when it's connected to my Apple Watch."

Another user concluded that the current time of battery life of their Android watch lasts 1 to 2 days depending on the usage. Challenges to improve battery life performance are taken seriously. Our smartwatch testers have thought about some cool features that would make a smartwatch even cooler. In addressing battery drain something like 'charging based on movementor wireless would be awesome'.

Location awareness

To the question what the users would add to their smartwatch to improve their experience, quite a 'wish list' came up. The main remarks have to do with the fact that a smartwatch is not contextually aware. Sounds like 'a smartwatch should have more location awareness to interact with more stuff around you' . Moreover, people would like to add better navigation and speak options, because for Apple 'Siri is not working well yet'. Another functionality that deserves a bit more attention in the case of an Apple Watch is 'a clearer haptic application for the directions'.

According to our survey base the biggest limitations so far seem to be the fact that smartwatches are still dependent devices and that the integration with the smartphone is not yet fully optimized. Many smartwatches rely on bluetooth technology to be able to perform many important functions. But hey early adaptors, wouldn't we be missing the point if we'd wanted to invent another 'smartphone on your wrist'? Using a smartwatch is all about convenience and shifting the focus away from the phone, right? While we may be at the beginning of a wearables-led future, we are not quite there yet... So, be patience guys.

The next blog will be posted next week and will be the final one in this smartwatch series. We will outline our vision on the future of the smartwatch there, so stay tuned!