Smartwatch is an advanced version of the wristwatch cum wearable computer that provides a local touchscreen interface for daily use and also can do many things your smartphone can’t. Smartwatch benefits are countless and it affects our everyday life, like playing media player, connecting your phone, GPS, tracking your heart rate, sleep, activity, and overall fitness level. You can also play music and do phone-free activities and even pay at the store.
Smartwatches don’t limit up to showing the time and it directly affects the global wristwatch industry, For the last couple of years, the swiss time industry is shaking and the smartwatches are the main reason behind the sale decline.
What is a Smartwatch?
A smartwatch is a modern-day time-monitoring, a wearable computing device that closely resembles a wristwatch providing more smartwatch benefits besides timekeeping. You can also utilize it by integrating with your smartphone and get weather updates, maps and navigation information including showing the incoming calls and messages that popping up on your mobile phone. The new age smartwatches also provide different sensors for fitness and health monitoring like heart rate tracking, counting the steps all day, burned calory counting, and GPS functionality. Besides this, Smartwatches provide an extension to your smartphone showing some of the content you could see on your phone but without reaching for your phone.
What are the benefits of having a Smartwatch?
Smartwatches mainly used as a fitness tracker for many years by a large number of people globally. So. today let’s discuss the modern-day smartwatch benefits and how it’s being popular around the globe. If talking on health-related functionality, smartwatches play the role of your health monitor that gives easy access to some of the smartphone applications and also provides sensor data like monitoring of heart bits and sleep tracking which isn’t available on smartphones. I would focus on further detailed descriptions and bring you an extensive list of the benefits of a smartwatch and it’s crucial functionality in our everyday life.
Smartwatch vs Smartphone
Smartphones can do many of the things you can do on a smartwatch but smartwatches are better suited for some things depending on the circumstances. While driving a car or bike it’s much more convenient to check notifications on your smartwatch than try to get your phone from the pocket. It’s nice to see for example the name of the incoming caller before answering the phone via your Bluetooth headset. Smartphones come with built-in GPS but it might be more convenient to just not bring your phone along when going out for a run and use your smartwatches built-in GPS to track the length and speed of your run.
Smartwatches also add things that your smartphone just doesn’t have for example heart rate monitoring. People are really enjoying the Heart Rate measuring functionality when doing sports. Heart Rate measurements from the wrist have gotten really accurate. It’s also good that it tracks your activity during the day and It can give you a challenge yourself to walk more and use the stairs instead of the lift. The movement and heart rate tracking also makes it possible to get information about sleep time and quality automatically which can be beneficial and allow you to make sure your getting enough sleep and go to bed on time.
Smartwatches are very versatile devices that are often waterproof. You can wear your smartwatch on when going swimming or doing water sports and even when going into the sauna. Some smartphones are waterproof too nowadays but it would be really awkward to carry a smartphone while swimming. In addition to telling the time you would like to measure your swim duration and some devices also measure distance and heart rate while swimming. If you want to know more about smartwatches that are suitable for swimming check my article on the topic.
What are the functions of a smartwatch?
Smartwatches have a multitude of functions. Let’s go over some of them. Some smartwatches have more functions and apps and others less so it is in no way that all smartwatches are expected to have certain features.
1. Time-related features
Telling time, this one’s kind of obvious, it’s a watch after all. It’s a lot more convenient to check the time, date and weekday on a watch compared to a smartphone.
Many smartwatches have a Stopwatch. This is similar compared to most smartphone clocks stopwatches but just to be used without the smartphone. I
Alarm Clock, some smartwatches like the Apple watch come with alarms separate from the phone so you can choose to set the alarm on the watch instead of the phone and the built-in speakers and vibration on the watch will wake you up. Many smartwatches don’t have built-in speakers so you are relying only on the vibration.
2. Smart features
Showing incoming calls, most smartwatches can show incoming calls when connected to your smartphone.
Notifications like Calendar Reminders, Emails Twitter, etc. notifications can often be glanced upon and in some cases fully read on the smartwatches screen. Usually, you get notifications from all the apps on your smartphone by default but you can also block apps.
Reminders, setting reminders can be done by using the virtual assistant Siri on the Apple Watch. Reminders will sync across devices.
Navigation, turn by turn navigation and directions on a smartwatch. Why not since it’s possible. Instead of a map and just arrows pointing you the way the Apple Watch also provides you a more discreet way of directing you with vibrating in different ways to tell you should you turn left or right. As a tourist, You think this would be handy since you will not look like a tourist staring at a map and it would also allow you to just look around and enjoy the atmosphere.
Find my Phone is a great feature allowing you to press a button on your smartwatch which will make your smartphone give an alarm even if it is on silent allowing you to find it more easily.
Contactless Payment via Apple Pay, Android Pay, Garmin Pay, Samsung Pay or Fitbit Pay lets you pay for purchases with your watch. These mobile payment systems work with contactless payment readers so that you can pay without your card or phone. Basically, it should work at any store offering contactless payment.
3. Health-related features and Benefits
Smartwatches often have integrated all the functionality we used to have on our fitness trackers. Health-related benefits include tracking your heart rate, sleep quality and time, activity and overall fitness level.
Hours Slept and Sleep Quality – Sleep measurement is possible with the Accelerometer, Gyro, and Heart Rate monitors on the smartwatch. Different manufacturers use different algorithms for tracking sleep time and quality with different levels of success. The better ones are in my experience able to very well know when you have fallen asleep and woken up. My favorite sleep measurement feature is the new Polar Nighly Recharge feature which measures with your watch. It is able to give you a score of your recharge during the night and give you training recommendations based on it.
Heart Rate measurement – Heart rate monitoring is among the biggest Smartwatch benefits that can measure your heart rate from the wrist. Measuring your heart rate has many benefits. It allows you to track your heart rate during exercises allowing you to keep in a zone that’s increasing your fitness level. Another benefit is that heart rate measurement connected to Artificial Intelligence might be able to accurately detect specific types of abnormal heart rhythms.
Your resting heart rate measurement is also an indication of your general fitness level and some devices even so your fitness age based on your measurements.
ECG or electrocardiogram is a feature that is starting to be available on some smartwatches like the Apple Watch Series 4. It gives you more accurate heart rate measurements and gives more data for detecting possible heart-related problems.
Blood Pressure measurement is an entirely new feature for smartwatches. It first came available on the Omron HeartGuide Smartwatch in January 2019. Omron’s oscillometric blood pressure measurement smartwatch also received FDA clearance.
Fall Detection is possible with the accelerometer and gyroscope on smartwatches. Some devices like the Apple Watch is capable of detecting a fall and even placing an emergency call and notifying your emergency contacts if you are unresponsive.
Emergency SOS is an additional feature available at least of the Apple Watch which allows you to call for assistance from your smartwatch.
Step counter, pretty much standard stuff for smartwatches and fitness trackers to measure your step count and notify you when you reach your daily step goal.
Calories, burnt calories estimation is quite common on smartwatches and it’s calculated based on your activity like steps and logged activity like running and the measurements during those activities.
Sports features, many smartwatches allow you to initiate activity tracking for your walks, runs, cycling, swimming, Strength training, etc. Garmin is very well known for its multisport smartwatches and they have highly accurate measurements on sports activities.
Sensors used in the health monitoring features
GPS positioning is not quite standard yet but it surely will become it. Smartphones a few years back didn’t all have GPS on them but now they do and so will smartwatches. Glonas and Galileo positioning systems are also supported by many devices. GPS is essential for tracking your outdoor activities like running, hiking and cycling to give you accurate readings of your speed and also to show your activities on a map.
The accelerometer is to track movement and used to implement for example the step counter. It also places a role in detecting movement related to sleep tracking etc.
Gyroscope, is used to track rotation and comes into play in detecting what type of movement you are doing and is helpful with for example tracking your swimming.
Wrist-based heart rate monitor, this is obviously used to track your heart rate.
Barometric altimeter, Compass, and Thermometer. The barometric altimeter combined with the compass and thermometer is used for tracking your elevation so it’s a nice feature for runners and hikers.
4. Music Playing Features
Offline music playback capabilities are not yet very common on smartwatches but it is a huge benefit for people who want a phone-free experience when going for a run or to the gym.
You can either control your smartphone’s music player and essentially use the smartwatch as a remote or pair the smartwatch with your Bluetooth headset and stream music from your watch to your headphone. This is a handy feature when doing sports and not wanting to carry a smartphone. You can store your music on the device or with cellular smartwatches you can even stream over the network.
5. Calling Features
Receive Call, Make Call – There are two levels of doing this. You can use the smartwatch as a remote to answer a call on your smartphone or make a call by asking Siri to make a call on your smartphone. The second level of doing this is on a cellular smartwatch that actually comes with a network connection and microphone and speaker to make a call without your smartphone. This is the best benefit of the smartwatch.
LTE smartwatches are becoming more common. Apple, Samsung, Huawei, LG and Garmin all have LTE smartwatches but it’s quite common to see poor battery life on these devices since being connected to the cellular network drains quite a lot of battery.
What are the Disadvantages of Smartwatches?
Usually, everything has some disadvantages, as well as advantages and smartwatches, are no exception.
One clear disadvantage, in my opinion, is the distraction of having your wrist buzzing all the time with incoming messages. Hard to get any work done without silencing it. That’s easily solved by silencing it for the workday or just by blocking apps that you don’t want to get notified by. Below is a list of some things to consider before buying a smartwatch.
Short battery life
Many people complain about the limited battery life of smartwatches. This is a major issue with some smartwatches that have a battery life of only 1-2 days. So be sure to check the actual battery life of the device and go for something that has a battery life of 6 days and up.
You can get the actual benefit of a smartwatch that uses the sleep tracking feature so it’s really annoying to wake up with a dead battery or to have to take it off for charging for the night. The battery life of 6 days or more allows me to charge it during the weekend at a time if you are not doing any activity at your home.
Screen size is small
For some smartwatch applications, the small screen size can be an issue. Smartwatches have tiny screens compared to smartphones.
Electronics get outdated
Many tend to want to upgrade the smartphone after two or three years. Smartwatches are similar electronics that get outdated and most likely you will want to upgrade after a few years. So keep this in mind when choosing a smartwatch and what kind of budget you want to spend on a device that will quite quickly get outdated. It’s not like buying an automatic watch that you might end up using for 20 or even 40 years.
The newer end of smartwatches can cost almost as much as a high-end smartphone so they tend to be expensive. My approach to this is to buy something that is released more than a year ago and still has most of the features as the newest releases
Devices get damaged
Smartwatches are electronics and you wear it on your wrist so it should at least be splash-proof so you can wear it while washing your hands and when doing some exercise and getting a sweat on it.
Some of the earlier fit bit models had issues with the bands starting to show wear and tear and eventually breaking off. Fitbit’s customer service was very responsive and helpful in replacing those devices, So you can get the best service from anywhere.
Conclusion: So, the smartwatches are being the everyday life assistant that is giving us much ease of doing our work including an eye on our health. Even, many functions are under development and in early stages which may turn our life better and would give us better productivity on fewer efforts by scheduling things in order. Honestly, smartwatches are rocking our life now!