Here’s How Google Can Win With Its Smartwatch
It’s been almost a month since I’ve been wearing my own Pebble smart watch. Make no mistake, despite a few short-comings, this is the best watch that I’ve ever worn. It gets notifications pushed to it from my Nexus 4. I don’t have to constantly pull my Nexus 4 out of my pocket to check and see if that alert I just received is important or not. Most of the time it’s not.
Even still, just having that information readily available is a huge help for me! Those of you who are thinking to yourself “why not just pull out your phone” need to try a smart watch to truly appreciate its value and utility.
In the short time that I’ve been wearing my Pebble, I’ve started piecing together how it could be better — and who could make a smart watch that would help integrate the relevant services available on my smartphone with an even smarter smart watch.
What if Google made a smart watch?
Google is starting to get into the “wearable computer” game with Google Glass — their augmented reality cyber-monocle (is it too late to trademark that name?). That approach really makes sense if you’re want to put the ability to record video and audio, and take still pictures somewhere omnipresent — like on your face. Sure, the privacy concerns have already prompted at least one place to ban the not-yet-available product from their establishment, but the concept is cool, and a little creepy.
What if you don’t care about being able to take pictures and video with your “wearable” computer? What if you just want the information in a convenient place? Say, I don’t know, your wrist perhaps?
And with that we’re back to a smart watch, right? Sort of.
Google’s smart watch needs to have a higher resolution, color screen to differentiate it from the several smart watches already on the market. It also needs to include Google Now integration, putting info cards literally on your wrist. Everything that you normally would get by pulling out your smartphone and firing up Google Now would be right there at your fingertips. Time to home or work, right where you need it. Weather conditions and short-term forecast immediately available. Birthdays. Appointments. Events. What’s nearby. Sports scores. Stock quotes. All this and everything Google adds to Google Now in the future would be right there where you need it most.
Want to search for something? No problem, ask your watch. Via its Bluetooth connection to your Internet-connected smartphone, the information you’re looking for would be presented on your wrist. Of course this implies being able to talk into your watch, but also for your watch to be able to answer you back. Could this be the next incarnation of the speakerphone? Perhaps.
Navigating somewhere? No problem. You could do it all from your smart watch! No, it doesn’t have GPS built in, but your smartphone does, and all it has to do is convey to your smart watch that your next turn is coming up in 1/4 mile and vibrate when you’re getting close. It’ll also tell you your ETA so you can tell your buddies when you’ll arrive.
Listening to music? Yup, your Google Watch will not only tell you who is playing right now, but let you control play, pause, next or previous track. No, I don’t think we should be able to to play back music through the watch, but controls are a no-brainer.
What are they waiting for?
There is obviously a market for wearable computers — just not in the geeky way we’ve pictured them in the past. Though they’re not selling it publicly yet, Google is already making Google Glass. Google Watch (or would it be “Google Time” or the “Nexus W”?) would be less “unusual” than Glass, and would extend the touch-friendly user interfaces to which we’ve already become accustomed rather than forcing users to learn a new set of commands and controls.
A lot of people want smart watches, so what’s stopping them?
- Cost: Touch screens are expensive. Color screens are expensive.
- Size: Pebble was able to fit a whole bunch of electronics into a very small package — but the watch itself is still fairly large.
- Not as newsworthy: Let’s face it, Google Glass turns heads and is getting a lot of press — not necessarily for the product itself, but for Google in general and for Google-based hardware in particular.
- Round challenges: Screens are rectangular, not round. If you want a round watch you have to have a square screen inside a round bezel. That doesn’t look appealing and leaves a lot of wasted space.
Most of all, however, I have to assume that Google is simply waiting for us — you and I. They’re watching to see what we want and what we’re willing to spend our money on. They’re letting others make mistakes and are learning from them. They may decide not to make a smart watch at all, but I can’t imagine that the concept hasn’t had several hours of discussion across a meeting room table already.
What about you?
What do you want in a smart watch from Google? How much would you pay for it? If they were already available what would keep you from buying one today? Let us know in the comments!
Image Credits: The Next Web, Spy Kids