What is this android smart watch we keep hearing about? And what exactly is a smart watch?
The current most popular smart watch is the Sony smart watch but of course the Sony smartwatch 2 is now also available, as is the Galaxy Gear - the new Samsung smart watch. And although not an Android smart watch the Apple I watch is sure to be impressive if it really is on it’s way!
Smartwatch for Android operating system
Any computer, smartphone, PDA etc needs some form of operating system - or OS. Way back in 2007 the Open Handset Alliance was formed. This was a group of companies who agreed to develop and use some form of open standard for mobile devices. Google was a founding member and is was their Android which was the chosen OS. Members of the OHA now also include Samsung, Sony, dell, HTC, LG, T-Mobile, Motorola, Qualcomm, Intel and more. Find out more about this consortium at http://www.openhandsetalliance.com.
And why is that important?
It’s important for us as the consumer of android smart watches. Why? Because all these major manufacturers & suppliers are using the same standard. They are not all competing against each other. Or spending individual, valuable time & money on Research & Development. So new products are developed quicker. They are more innovative. And the cost for us as consumers is considerably less.
Also Android is open source. This means that anyone can take the basic OS and develop it. And this is the reason for the vast numbers of applications - or apps - available. As the android smart watch becomes more common – so will the apps available for it.
Traditionally a watch told us the time. That was it! Then by the late 1970s came the digital watch. These could not only tell the time but were also stopwatches, calculators etc. These were really the first commonly available smart watches.
Today we tend to think of the smartwatch as a mini wearable computer. In the same way that a smart phone does so much more than just make a phone call. So a smart watch will do so much more than just tell you the time. Just about any smart watch today is expected to have a WiFi internet connection. But many smart watches will specialize. For instance as a sports watch or an Android phone watch.
The problem we have now is that we are using the wristwatch for something it was never designed for. In theory it is a fantastic concept. A portable computer to wear on the wrist. But we expect it to do exactly what our laptop or office desktop does. This is partly an issue with technology. We are trying to cram an awful lot into a very small device. But it is also an issue of practicality. The ‘ideal’ android smart watch will have an input device (keyboard?) which we can physically use. And a screen we can physically see. But all small, light and discreet enough to wear on the wrist. Really? Is this possible?
For this reason most smart watches tend to:-
- be slim but with few functions.
- be bulky but with many functions.
- have many smart watch functions but can only work when paired with a smart phone - ie you need to carry both.
Of course this is a generalisation only. The point is that these tend to be the only practical options at present. So any smart watch which can break from these moulds stands out from the rest. And the eagerly anticipated Google smart watch and Microsoft smart watch may well do just that.
So is every smart watch an android smart watch?
No – definitely not. Apple for instance are currently developing a non android smart watch. But then Apple will use their own iOS operating system as they always do. So an android smart watch is not necessarily the best. But it is likely to be cheaper and reach the market sooner. And have a whole range of compatible smartwatch apps.