Choosing a... Wearable
Wearable tech can include anything from chest-strap heart-rate monitors to augmented reality glasses, but the two most common types are smartwatches and fitness trackers. Both are designed to sit unassumingly on your wrist, and are almost always meant to be used in tandem with a paired smartphone.
Smartwatches are typically more complex and expensive, though more closely resemble a traditional wristwatch. You can use them to receive and reply to text messages and emails, quickly check maps and even play games – like a smartphone, most smartwatches allow you to install your own choice of apps.
Fitness trackers are much more dedicated to healthy pursuits. Step counters, heart-rate monitors and even sleep tracking are all common, and the data collected is fed back to you so you can see how your workout routine or calorie intake is going.
Many smartwatches also contain health-tracking features, but fitnessspecific wearables tend to be cheaper, smaller and lighter.
When it comes to battery life, it’s important for any wearable to last a full day, but if it’s a smartwatch then you can get away with having to charge it overnight. With fitness trackers, it’s better if it lasts for several days off a single charge, so you can wear it to bed and benefit from sleep tracking.
Look out for waterproofing as well. Wearables that don’t mind a few lengths of the pool can be used for swimming or just timekeeping, and at the very least we expect a fitness tracker to be able to deal with rain or sweat.
Different smartwatches use different operating systems, which determine which apps you can install on your device as well as compatibility with smartphones. Android Wear and Tizen smartwatches will work with both Android and iOS phones, but Apple’s watchOS will only pair with an iOS handset.