Monday, 18 November 2013

Living with a smartwatch: The Galaxy Gear case study

I lived with the Galaxy Gear for one month, wearing it all day, every day but making a real effort to not go in search for where a smartwatch could fit into my life. I wanted to go about my daily activities without forcing it into how I function, and instead see where and how it could be useful. 

There are plenty of reviews out there from people who have used a smartwatch for 5 minutes, and made a judgement call. They look at spec, expectations, features and then walk away. Critics tarnish the Galaxy Gear with their overriding opinion of a smartwatch and the question mark over its purpose. I wanted to veer away from this, and retrospectively analyse how I have been functioning differently with the Galaxy Gear. Essentially, I want to do is talk about what it's like to live with a smartwatch, and specifically, what it is like to live with Samsung's offering; the Galaxy Gear.

When I envisaged a smartwatch, I foresaw a bulky product that would only be worn by the real tech-geek. I wasn’t close. The Galaxy Gear sports a classy design, and with it on, I haven’t been conscious of its presence whatsoever and those that have noticed it, have commented positively on its appearance. So settling down with the Gear wasn’t a problem, and after a few days with the Gear, I begun to subconsciously use it for normal tasks. From here its murky role in integrating into my life started to become clearer.

The first thing I noticed, was the receiving of a text when I was in the middle of something, and how just a glance at my smartwatch didn’t break my stride or concentration. When it buzzed, I checked who I’d received a text from and then I’d action that  - if I wanted to respond then I could talk my response out to the Gear via S-Voice (I only use this at home), or take my phone out to respond. Most of the time however, a response could wait and I could switch focus attention straight back onto the task.

Secondly, and perhaps my favourite use, was the syncing on calls and reminders. If someone calls when I’m out, or in a meeting, I can glance at my watch, swipe to reject the call and choose an auto-text response – all with my phone somewhere else. If I wanted to answer it, I can talk straight into the smartwatch in a very Star Trek-esque fashion (I didn't like to use this), or switch it to my phone/hands-free. A reminder for a meeting pops up with a courteous buzz and you’ve got your information in a split second before dismissing it.

The camera was a surprise. It became a go-to option when snapping some day-to-day shots, which it does well. Obviously when I wanted a higher-quality image, then I’d take out the Galaxy Note 3, but the Gear became the first thought. For example, I took this on the underground when irritated by Apple’s iPhone 5C billboards:

Finally, I lost my phone down the side of the sofa (with the Galaxy Note 3 that’s surprisingly easy!) and instead of calling it, or spending a while searching, I just tapped upon the ‘Find my Phone’ app and found it immediately.

I’m not for one minute going to stand here and say that the Galaxy Gear, or any smartwatch for that matter, is an essential item to have. It’s not. However, I’m also going to disagree with many reviews that dismiss the Galaxy Gear as not being ready for the consumer. It is.
     The technology is wonderful. It’s a smooth user experience; a powerful piece of kit that doesn’t lag and it syncs instantly with the information on the user’s phone.
Critics shouldn’t be lambasting Samsung for failing to achieve perfection on a first attempt, instead they should be applauding Samsung for getting anywhere close. Wearable technology is in it's absolute infancy but Samsung have done a superb job on the product, it’s the developers and the software that need to now get working.
The Galaxy Gear, and smartwatches in general, thrive off the immediate; the snappy information. When football score updates, for example, are integrated into an app for the Galaxy Gear, then that’s where we will see it being loved. It’s that immediate content, which doesn’t require much thought or further explanation, that shows off the Gear and its purpose. Instagram for example would be ideal for the Galaxy Gear, after all, it already supports 15 second video and quick, easy-to-capture images, so why not? Whatsapp is another app that needs to be catered for, but support for these will come. The potential for the smartwatch, with apps such as these enhancing the experience, is greatly increased.

So, after two weeks with the Galaxy Gear, the smartwatch found a role in my life and this may have a completely different role in someone else’s. But it is really important to note that the thought of parting with the Galaxy Gear is genuinely quite saddening, and that says a lot about my enjoyment of the product.

I’m the first to say if the world isn’t quite ready for a product, I did with the Chromebook, and also with Windows 8, but I believe that the world is ready for the smartwatch. With continuing app support, the Galaxy Gear is ready for the world.

For the full product review, click here. If you’re interested in purchasing the Galaxy Gear and Note 3, head over here.

No comments :

Post a Comment