Smartwatches: why they're here to stay

Smartwatches: why they're here to stay

And so our Smartwatch saga continues... Last week we wrote about the current status of the smartwatch market to kick off our series. This week we want to talk about some of the positive feedback from users around us. To get a sense of what people like or dislike about their smartwatch, we have asked a group of 20 smartwatch users to fill in this Typeform survey. For this study we rely on our colleagues' first hand experience of using a smartwatch as a good indicator to get insights in the overall smartwatch experience.

The survey shows that 18% uses an Android watch, 45% of the respondents have a Pebble watch, while 36% is the owner of an Apple Watch. Pebbles for the win it seems. Note that this might as well be generated because some of us were rewarded with a Pebble when we won a hackaton last year. In this week's blog we have rounded up their positive feedback around these types of smartwatches with a main focus on the features they love the most.

Notifications

The key feature for smartwatch users that is frequently mentioned in the survey - by 45% of the respondents - is the smart use of notifications. A smartwatch is built to give its user 'snackable information' to its convenience. Easy to digest while being on the way, in the office, and busy with your daily business. It works as a second screen, an extension of your phone, so it has to be near for bluetooth connection in order to get notified.

Notifications has charmed the owners of an Apple Watch with Digital Touch and taptic feedback. By means of 'tapping' on the screen the watch alerts you to notifications through gentle (and distinctive) vibrations. Also, 'Glances and Time travel' are functionalities that can notify the user and give quick access from the watch face to (as Apple describes it) "scannable summaries of the information you view most frequently".

features smartwatch

This also applies to the 'Google Now integration in Android wear and the easy use of Now cards that glances your notifications. 'For example, scanning a mail for ordering tracking codes and show a now card with a product picture and an "in transit" message'. Pebble users are positive about 'time, alarm, reminders and call alert'. 'The intuitive way the watch is operated shows that less is more sometimes' and 'messaging is quick and easy (mail/social/etc.)'.

Health and Fitness Monitor

Another popular feature of the smartwatch is the Health and Fitness tracker. About 30% of the respondents noted that the fitness feature was a real differentiator for them. 'Activity tracking and statistics produced from it' is the feature that made them smile, or even have made them fall in love with the device.

It may not be as accurate as a straightforward fitness band, but over all the devices the fitness features includes options like heart rate meters, step counters and sports apps. For Apple this is particularly a strong feature, having the Activity and Workout app that support both the healthy and the athletes in reaching their activity goals. We see that mostly Apple Watch users refer to this as a useful feature.

Apple watch workout

Remote control

In light of the 'Internet of Things' smartwatches are increasingly used as a remote control to direct other devices around you. A smartwatch control for a combination of services, such as your computer or TV, your music system, the heater, the lights or  your backdoor. These will soon be internet-connected making your home 'smart'... and you more streamlined. This obviously sounds awesome, but a great deal still remains to be done. In our survey, it's the Pebble user who identifies the remote control feature as a notable functionality of their smartwatch 'to control the Sonos music system'.

And your phone use...?

Finally, we asked our smartwatch users about the effect a smartwatch has on their regular phone experience. Using a smartwatch means that 'your phone stays in your pocket more often, because reading notifications and messages can be done from your wrist. The sound is always off, it's not needed anymore, because you will always notice the watch vibration. Your phone vibration can be missed more often. For Android 'you can set device lock to "smart lock", so that the code or pattern lock screen can be skipped when phone and watch are in range'. And also for Pebble users, though Pebble is independent, it still makes the total experience better. One respondent states that he 'still uses his phone for most things but the watch adds minor convenience, like switching songs or glancing push notifications.'

In next week's blog we will discuss some negative feedback from our smartwatch users. What could 'kill' the smartwatch...?