Smartwatch Job Description

The announcement of the Samsung Gear, Samsung’s attempt to one-up Apple in the innovation area IMHO, brought up some interesting questions about the design of a smartwatch. Most notably, what is a smart watch hired to do? What are its limitations and how can it be used best to take advantage of its differences to a smartphone?

To me, the Galaxy Gear seems to me like a typical feature-rich device. The 1.3MP camera is what stood out the most. Is there really a need for an even crappier camera than the one you have on your phone? It’s faced outwards from your wrist, meaning it’s not even for video calls a la Inspector Gadget.

I could go on about my thoughts on the Galaxy Gear, what Samsung should do, what Apple should do, but those are my opinions and not worth much salt. So here’s what I personally want my watch to do. The list is pretty intense so get ready for it.

  1. Tell me when.
    This could be many things. Tell me the time and date. Tell me when I get a call, a message, an @ mention. Tell me when it’s going to rain. Tell me what I’m listening to. Tell me when I should start mosey-ing over to my next meeting. Notifications, short and sweet. Keep individual apps to a minimum.  I don’t need an entire RSS reader on my watch. I’ll do that on my phone/tablet/computer. Keep out the clutter, and only show me what matters to me most, when I need to know about it.
  2. Act on them.
    Let me act on notifications quickly. Input methods would be simple taps and gestures, or voice control. An acknowledge or a remind me later. A quick reply. The Mailbox app’s gestures are really handy for simple action items like archive, delete, or remind me later. That would be perfect for a small touchscreen. Skip to the next song or podcast.

That’s it. The rest are bells and whistles.

* Update: I just noticed that this post was exactly a year from my previous post regarding critics urging Samsung to be a first-mover. How fitting.

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