Now that the Apple Watch is out, sold out and either shipped or on back order, everyone seems to be talking about smartwatches. So much so that other smartwatch makers like Pebble and Samsung are thanking Apple for helping to generate interest for the gadgets.
Despite how "beautifully designed" it is and no matter its current lineup of apps and features, analysts say the Apple Watch will need significant time to gain momentum before it has an opportunity to really catch on with consumers. Simply put, why should I spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on a device when it's not obvious why I really need one?
As far as I can see, there is only one reason to buy a smartwatch: Notifications. Seriously. Let me explain.
I've owned smartwatches for more than a year and love getting notifications on my wrist. I no longer am a slave to my smartphone in that I have to constantly glance at it, checking frantically for that damn flashing light.
Did my fiancée call? Did I not hear it ring!? Did I finally get that email I've been waiting for from my attorney? Or did my annoying neighbor text again? Or is it another damn game request from some idiot on Facebook? That frickin' flashing light flashes and lures you in no matter what type of notification you get.
With notifications on my wrist, I know immediately when I receive a call or a text or an email. My wrist goes buzz and I see immediately that it's a phone call I need to take. So, I dig my phone from my bag and answer it. Buzz again and I see it's a text I can ignore until later.
Ah, the sweet taste of smartphone freedom.
Unlike some tech reviewers who've complained about their wrists constantly vibrating with frivolous notifications (OMG, how annoying!), it doesn't take a rocket scientist to turn on the types of notifications you want and turn off those you don't. You're usually prompted to pick your notifications in the set-up process, so that should be a non-issue. Turn off messages from Facebook and you won't have to worry about that constant barrage of game and friend requests blowing up your wrist. It's easy.
One might say that health tracking also is a big selling point for smartwatches. And it is. But, sadly, not everyone cares about constantly monitoring their steps or their heart rate. Not everyone exercises. If you own a smartphone — and the masses do — then you get and most likely care about notifications.
So have I ordered my Apple Watch and am I salivating over getting phone calls and responding to text messages on my wrist? No. While freedom from smartphone slavery tastes sweet, it isn't worth $500 or more for it. At least not until someone can explain to me why I can't survive without one.
In other words, the Apple Watch is great for the industry, but smartwatches still have a ways to go before everyone you see walking down the street is wearing one. If that ever happens.