Galaxy Gear Made Me Realize What I DON'T Want From Smart Watches...
As per usual protocol, let me start with full disclosure: I currently own a GS3 and love it, and I'm a huge android fan. I'm also a big tech nerd. I spend a LOT of time on this site... Now you can't tell me I'm just bashing, because I really wanted this to work, and I've wanted a smartphone for at least a year now.
"WAY TOO MUCH GOING ON WITH THAT THING."
The Galaxy Gear has just about every function you could think of from a smartwatch. Good thing? Perhaps, but that's what turned me off. Way too much going on with that thing. Do I really need an awkwardly placed camera? Do I need (or want) to make calls from my watch? Do I need a bunch of apps from my watch? This watch made me realize that I DON'T want a smartwatch like this.
"IT NEEDS TO FUNCTION AS A GOOD WATCH FIRST."
That had me wondering... what do I want from a so called smart watch? Well, I need it to function as a watch, most importantly. In terms of design, I need something that I can wear passively, that is to say, that I don't need to be too aware of it and don't need to take if off (except at night, as I do with my current watch)... that would mean that it's ideally waterproof and doesn't need to be charged regularly. Charging every few days works for me, but I don't want something I need to charge nightly; I want to be able to go away for a weekend and not worry about how much juice my watch has. Again, it needs to function as a good watch first. Also, It needs to be small enough that it's not a giant weight, nice enough to wear casually (to work, for example), and rugged enough to take for a run or mountain biking.
"I DON'T NEED ... AN ALL-IN-ONE DEVICE ON MY WRIST."
So what do I need it to do? Well, I want the fitness features without the hoopla. I want a watch with extras: a pedometer, an activity tracker... but I don't need a camera, a phone, an all-in-one device on my wrist. The only apps I need it to run are Runkeeper (or your activity tracking app of choice) and a watch face. SImple apps (even more simplified than on Android), such as clock (stopwatch, timer, alarm), weather, music controls would be nice extras, but nothing complicated. I don't want to read emails or texts. I don't want to have a phone call, I don't want a camera, I don't need to look at photos or use a browser, I don't care about facebook and twitter. These are great functions of a larger device, such as... a phone. The watch is about keeping it simple.
"I'D EVEN SACRIFICE ... ANYTHING ELSE THAT REQUIRES A SCREEN ..."
For the most part, these devices already exist. I know you'll think I'm crazy, but devices like the Nike Fuel Band or FitBit Flex are pretty close to my ideal: They add functionality for physical activity without all the extra filler crap that just complicates things. Unfortunately, only the Nike Fuel Band has any sort of display, and that device isn't compatible with iOS. If FitBit made a device like the flex that displayed time and could sync with fitness apps (MyFitness and something like RunKeeper), I'd be happy. I'd even sacrifice music controls and anything else that requires a screen, except time display, for the simplicity of the those products.
"SAMSUNG FOR LIFE...?"
The last thing that I forgot to mention when I originally posted this article is that I do NOT want something that is locked into an ecosystem. The Galaxy Gear only works with new Samsung Galaxy devices (with updates going back to the GS3). While I haven't seen any confirmation, I don't imagine this will change in the future. Samsung for life...? No, thanks. Not because I don't enjoy my GS3 (I really do!), but I don't want to be locked into ANY company's ecosystem permanently. Watches should be timeless, or at least, last longer than my cell phone contract. I don't know what awesome phones will be out when my contract is done, and I certainly don't want to commit, now, to any company in the future.
So anyway, that's my take on smartwatches: They just started and they're already overly complicated. I just want something simple that can sync fitness, but can still tell me the time when I'm wearing it.