Google’s Android Wear update nails skeptics’ flaw in Apple Watch plan

Chris Burns - Apr 20, 2015, 1:54 pm CDT
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Google’s Android Wear update nails skeptics’ flaw in Apple Watch plan

Today Google has released a number of feature updates for Android Wear, and in turn, has uncovered a key flaw not only in the Apple Watch, but in ever smartwatch released so far. In the smartwatch, the market has created demand for a product that precedes its own usefulness. In the release, creation, and proliferation of the smartwatch, manufacturers are attempting to recapture the magical torch set alight by smartphones, attempting to make lightning strike again with a “smart” upgrade to a “dumb” device.

But it won’t work like that. It can’t work like that. When Android and the iPhone were launched, the mobile phone was still in its infancy. Adults still used landline phones – in fact many businesses continue to use landline phones.

The wrist watch, on the other hand, has been around for two hundred years.

I’m tempted to reference the e-book and its failure to destroy traditional paper books, but the smartwatch is different. While the e-book can only really replace books by making it easier to read a book, the smartwatch should NOT be aimed at destroying the traditional wristwatch.

What Apple and Google need is a feature that’ll create a lasting impact.

Today Google released a set of feature updates for Android Wear. They include the following:

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Hands-free navigation – this allows you to move through the Google Now “cards” in your smartwatch UI with a flick of your wrist.

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Always-on screen – this lets you keep the display on when you’ve got certain apps open, helpful for working with maps and lists.

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Emoji – you can now draw pictures on your watch to summon emoji images to respond to messages.

What good are these updates in selling more smartwatches? They’re good for showing off easy-to-access features, and they look good when you show them off to friends.

Which is good.

That’s a good sales tactic.

But the primary must-have ability for any device that hopes to make a lasting impression does not yet exist yet. The smartwatch needs to be able to do something its predecessors could not.

Amongst the many things a smartphone can do that its predecessors could not is its ability to access the internet on the go – wherever I am, I can access the entire world’s worth of information. Images, text, and video.

For now, the smartwatch just jams a smartphone into a tiny box or circle on my wrist. Because of this, I remain skeptical about the smartwatch in general.

Apple must see something I dont.

Google must have something planned.

NOTE: Google’s always-connected feature for Android Wear might be on the right track, but it still highlights the fact that the watch is still just a tiny smartphone.

There must be some big piece to this puzzle that I’m not yet seeing. Some amazing piece of functionality that’ll make the smartwatch awesome.

Something that makes the smartwatch something that, like the smartphone, I no longer see a way around NOT owning.

Until I have the unmistakable feeling that, not only do I want a smartwatch, but I want a specific one of these masses of smartwatches on the market today, there is no lasting impact.


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