Last Updated: 16 Aug 2016

Wearables. They’re kind of a thing now. In 2015, vendors shipped a total of 78.1 million wearables, up by 171.6 percent over 2014, according to IDC. Granted, Apple sold 74.5 million iPhones in its first quarter of 2015. But, wearables are growing. Fast.

Smartwatches are an accessory to your phone. But as your phone is the main device you use, it deserves accessories that help you get the most out of it.

As someone who has had a smartwatch for approaching a year now, here are my five reasons you should get one.

1. Notifications

Each day, we are bombarded by notifications. Whilst you can turn them off, the ones that are important mean that any time our phones buzz, we feel compelled to look at our devices. It’s gotten so bad, that we often feel phantom vibrations – it’s affected our psychology. Smartwatches help you to have more control over notifications. You become far more selective with what you allow coming through, which you should do with your phone too.

Instead of instantly reaching for your phone when you feel a notification, you can simply give your wrist a very quick glance and decide whether it’s important or not. If you’re in the company of other people, you can also wait for the right time to give your wrist a quick glimpse.

Apps like Foursquare, Dark Sky, Yahoo Weather have nailed notifications with smartwatches by delivering useful bits of information when you might need it. Others, such as Outlook, eBay, The Guardian and Instagram have made their notifications interactive, meaning that you can quickly take an action, without needing to think about reaching for your phone.

This makes smartwatches the perfect companion for people who tend to keep their phone in their bag or at risk of losing them by always leaving them out on a table.

2.Paying for things

With Samsung Pay on the Gear S2 and Android Pay coming to Android watches, you too will be able to enjoy the convenience of paying with your wrist. Using your phone to make payments is only the easiest thing if it’s already in your hand, otherwise, your wallet remains the best way to make a payment.

With a smartwatch, though, it’s the best payment experience ever. With Apple Watch, you just double click a button and wave it over the payment terminal. You don’t even need to contort your wrist to do it. It just works. It’s ultra handy when you’re in the gym (assuming your gym has contactless payment drink dispensers), are out for a run and need to get on a bus (assuming you are in London) or just have things in your hands.

Over the winter, it’s especially amazing. No removing three layers to get to your wallet. Lots of feeling like you’re a wizard waving your sleeve to pay for things.

3.Distraction free navigation

Remember when you used to go to a meeting with a map in hand? Or when you had to print off Google Maps? Navigation on a phone was a big step up, but as with the paper counterpoint, it meant pulling out your phone. Voice navigation went one better, keeping the phone in the pocket (which is handy with phone thieves on bikes). Anyone who lives in a city and has ever used voice navigation for getting somewhere will know how awesome it is. Yet, there’s also distraction with it. Walking through a city, listening to a podcast or audiobook? Nope. Awful. Walking with someone else? Antisocial.

But then came Apple Watch with its taps. Whilst not always perfect and you have to learn what different taps mean, the ability to walk freely, with subtle taps on your wrist is magic. Whilst I can’t speak for how navigation works on Android Wear or Samsung Gear, even just a quick glance generally gives you the info you need is more useful than reaching for your phone.

CityMapper has perfected this too, thanks to notifications. You tell it where you are going. It tells you when to change. Glorious.

4.Fitness tracking

Fitness. Ugh. We know we need to be healthier. We know we need to walk 10,000 steps per day. We know we need to be more active. Fitness trackers have become big business, telling us how we move, sleep and eat. This is one of the key selling points of many smartwatches. Anyone wanting a fitness tracker should think about getting a smartwatch instead. You get the tracking, but with so much more. Ok so, trackers are that bit better for tracking, but then a DSLR camera is better at taking photos.

5.They can be standalone devices

There are a number of smartwatches available that work completely without a phone nearby. As the technology improves and smartwatches get more intelligent, they will be able to do many of the things we use our phones for. Phones have become increasingly big, which make them better for a longer amount of time, but not so good to use one handed or on the move. Smartwatches are attached to you.

It’s the future

There is the clear argument that the technology is still too new for people to buy. A device like Apple Watch will have found its groove by its second or third generation, but even as a gen-1 product, Apple Watch is an impressive piece of kit.

The devices we use on a regular basis will likely continue to change over the next few years. Devices like Microsoft Hololens look like the future of desktop computing. Oculus Rift and HTC Vive look like the future of immersive gaming and entertainment experiences. Smartwatches play an important role in the future of communication and the future of the devices we use.

Whilst they may not be for everyone, they are for enough people to make them a viable, interesting product.

UPDATE: Check out the counter to this post here by my smartwatch hating boss, Mr James Kaye.

 

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