Tech //

The not-so-smart watch

William Ryan questions whether society has gone too far

Watch illustration

Every so often, a society is faced with a choice that will define how history perceives them. For the Ancient Greeks, it was the decision to adopt the Socratic foundations of philosophy.

A similar, defining choice confronts the contemporary citizen: should I get a smartwatch? I put a Huawei Smartwatch through its paces, to see how it stacked up against the chronographs of old.

Time-telling

The Huawei Smartwatch tells the time with the same precision as your orthodox watch. Or, at least it does for the 24 hours before its battery goes flat. Yep, just 24 hours. Finally, a watch that not only tells the time, but also makes you value it! Instead of being mildly inconvenienced once a year by a spontaneous flat battery, we can now predict with certainty when our watches are no longer useable! And on a daily basis too!

Watch Screens

The watches of old only had one face, taunting wearers daily with its mediocrity. The Huawei Smartwatch has around 40 inbuilt digital watch faces. It is true that 90 per cent of them are tacky, probably making your friends hate you more than when you first got the watch, that still leaves around 4 quality watch faces. Or, a 400 per cent improvement!

Phone Compatibility

Don’t you just hate the current method of texting? You know – stretching your hand into your pocket, grasping for that always-just-out-of-reach phone, heaving it up to your line of sight. And that’s if you don’t drop your phone in the process.

Someone contact NASA, because Huawei has found a solution! The Huawei Smartwatch uses Android, and can hook up to your phone through Bluetooth. This means you can use it to activate voice calls and text using vocal recognition. I will admit that this last feature is quite exciting (I impressed my friends at a house party with it last night, actually) and the recognition is quite crisp. But the question “why bother?” still remains.

Price

Like anything, the price of a smartwatch varies between brands, from affordable to “big spender”. For the sheep out there, Apple iWatches range from $430 to $1600. Well, you know what they say: time is money.

University

With the option of syncing-in your diary and reminders, the smartwatch does have an advantage over traditional watches in a university or work setting. Although it is difficult to locate the University’s policy on smartwatches in examination rooms, it is likely that they will not be permitted. Or Spence et al could go full-rogue and permit smartwatches, starting some sort of new super-suit era of examinations.

In Sum

The above comparison isn’t to say that I don’t feel an intrinsic sense of excitement when using the smartwatch. I feel a sense of indulgent pleasure when I set my watchface to rural landscape photos, or interrupt a conversation with friends to text via voice.

But this pleasure will only take me – nay, society – so far. Do we really need the smartwatch? Do we really need an invention that seeks to digitise one already loved and well-functioning? The result is a complicated device whose battery life is so short that its primary purpose, to tell the time, is compromised.

Society, we have come too far.