The Battle of the Smartwatches

After going big with tablets, the battle has now moved on to wearable technology


(Some rights reserved, Kārlis Dambrāns via Flickr Creative Commons)

Years ago, when we were still playing games like Snake and Space Impact on our phones, we couldn’t even imagine that we’d ever come to the point where almost our whole lives now revolve around mobile technology. Portable devices that could do almost everything clunky desktop computers and laptops could have become a staple of our daily lives, and every year, millions of people wait for the latest installment in mobile technology.

After years of competing with tablets and phablets, it seems the competition has now shifted towards much smaller products: wearable technology, or smartwatches.

“Smartwatches” have existed since 1972, but many will remember them to be those unfashionable calculator watches that did nothing but make you look like a geek. Today’s smartwatches, however, come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and they’re taking the world by storm. Major brands such as Sony, Samsung and Motorola have already established themselves in the smartwatch industry, and Apple is quickly catching up.

The Sony SmartWatch boasts of full compatibility with nearly all Android phones, acting “Like a mini version of your smartphone,” and allowing users to have full access to their notifications, calls, texts, and even apps right from their wrists. These are features that nearly all smartwatches now have, but with competition now becoming quite fierce among these top brands, some of them are truly pushing the envelope.

Samsung, another forerunner in the industry, is among those that seem to have integrated all you could need in their smartwatch. Already hoping to make headlines with the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, which O2 says “means business… with a 5.7″ screen, a stylus and intelligent note-taking know-how”, Samsung’s Galaxy Gear has one thing that most other smartwatches don’t: a camera. Putting portability to the test, the Galaxy Gear boasts of allowing users to take quick snapshots or videos right through their smartwatch, and then upload them to social networks.

Motorola stands out from the competition with the Moto 360, a smartwatch that, unlike all other smartwatches before it, has a round design, much like analog watches. Designed to maximize the display area and ensure a comfortable fit, the Moto 360 is among the more stylish smartwatches.

Apple’s own Apple Watch is set to be a gamechanger, although as of now its features seem to be unremarkable: GPS satellite-based timekeeping, integration with a smartphone to stay on top of schedules, and integration with notifications so you can make and receive calls intuitively. What’s impressive about the Apple Watch, however, is its promise of hundreds of different styles, the customizability of its notifications, and the Digital Touch feature, which lets you send sketches, taps, or even recordings of your own heartbeat to others using the Apple Watch.

Of course, there are other smaller companies that have begun looking into smartwatch technology as well. Pebble, a remarkable firm that raised a record-breaking $10 million on Kickstarter, continues to manufacture smartwatches that do just what they’re supposed to, minus the flashy bits that often drive the costs of smartwatches through the roof. With its own integrated apps and a retro interface, and a battery that lasts almost a week per charge, Pebble presents a great alternative to the more expensive, mainstream smartwatches out there.

Travelers and other people who are always on-the-go need to have easy access to their phones, and to the things that matter to them the most. Which smartwatch do you think is set to overtake the market, and could Apple really turn things around?

author: Jennifer Birch