Wearables to Watch
Smart wearables are changing almost as fast as the sweep hand on a stopwatch.
The more observant among you may have noticed that Apple has started selling watches. If this is news to you, then you’re not paying attention because though they tick in silence, wearables are virtually unmissable right now.
These tiny gadgets are a big deal, evolving from a niche market aimed largely at fitness fanatics to an increasingly mainstream addition to your family of toys. By 2020, it is predicted that the sector will be worth $57 billion in revenue annually.
Where once wearable tech would merely record data to be interpreted by your computer or smartphone, now it acts as a conduit for information, pushing your calls and messages to your wrist and telling you when you have a social media alert. Oh, and they tell time.
While wearables used to be manufactured from utilitarian plastic and rubber, today’s cutting-edge products are fashioned from the kind of materials usually associated with high-end wristwatches – rose gold, stainless steel and fine leather.
With traditional timepieces serving as design inspiration, smart devices offer stunning models that would look chic on Fifth Avenue, and in fact, some of the nameplates are strikingly familiar as well.
As with the smartphone and tablet markets, the big commercial battle to control the eco-system is between Apple and Google with their Watch OS and Android Wear software.
The phone you use will typically drive the smartwatch you buy – although the Android Wear OS loaded on most of the newer smartwatches previewed here now works with iPhone, but only if the phone sports iOS 8.2 or higher. Two very important caveats: The iPhone support doesn’t extend to older Android phones, and while the watch is supported, not all your apps will be. Needless to say, Apple’s watch is left to its own devices.
As ever, investing in technology this early in its development is a risky business. Much has changed in this category just in the last six months, and more changes are on the way. So it’s a pretty good bet that before the ink is dry on this story, something else new will have hit the market.
So do try to keep up.