Will smartwatches help tablets replace smartphones?

Hot on the heels of the Pebble smartwatch’s success, another company launched a Kickstarter campaign for a watch that does more. Martian Watches have mostly normal clockfaces instead of e-ink displays; the big story here is that you can issue voice commands through these wrist huggers and conduct voice calls.

smartwatches

Given the success of smartwatches on Kickstarter (if not in the marketplace just yet), I’m hoping that developers jump on this bandwagon hard and make some awesome apps. Not just because I like the idea of a Dick Tracy-esque device on my arm, but because it could be the thing that makes the tablet phone possible.

Remember earlier this month when Kevin C Tofel of GigaOM asserted that tablets would eventually replace smartphones since mobile data usage keeps going up and up along with screen sizes? The main barrier to using your tablet as a phone is the size, of course. So Tofel is exploring alternate methods of taking calls.

This little Bluetooth handset is the size of a pen and works the way you think it does — by connecting to a phone and allowing you to take or make calls.  It’s the same general idea as that ASUS handset that came with earlier versions of the Eee Pad Memo.

Kevin C Tofel looks slightly less ridiculous with this Bluetooth handset

While a wireless handset is one way to handle things, it feels over-complicated. For one, it’s still something you have to hold when you talk. It’s also another thing to keep track of. And are people really so bothered by wired or wireless headsets?

I agree with Tofel’s assertion in general, but I don’t think Bluetooth handset pocket pen things are the stepping stone between smartphone and tablet phone use.  Why not go for something simple we already know people like: Smartwatches.

The current crop of wrist devices aren’t that inspiring, I know. The Sony smartwatch was a disappointment but a step in the right direction. And the MotoActv wasn’t smartwatch-y enough, focusing on fitness stuff. Still, it allowed people to answer calls using a wired or Bluetooth headset.

Most of the smartwatches that appear to have the most promise aren’t available yet, though they have received some buzz thanks to Kickstarter. Aside from the Martian Watches we have the MetaWatch Strata to look forward to.  Like the Pebble, the Strata is open to developers who could create apps that allow owners to both answer and make calls with the watch.

Smartwatches have the benefit of being small enough to not feel like an extra burden, and of being fashionable, so people will want to wear them. If you don’t like it on your wrist, get a chain and attach it to your belt loop, wear it as a necklace, or hang it elsewhere.

Paired with a good smartwatch, a tablet could easily replace my phone in most situations. Do you agree?

  • Javi Metal

    Main problem of these watches is the size of the screen and you must recharge the battery everyday, several brands are on this market now, an example: http://www.oilwatches.com

    • digi_owl

      induction pads perhaps?

  • digi_owl

    Chippy and Sasha_p did a funny video of that Samsung thingy at Cebit, testing both incoming and outgoing (voicedail) calls.

  • jacewt

    Not anytime soon. Women are not going to wear those.

  • CampGareth

    Looks a bit sillier holding a watch to your ear than a tablet, if a bluetooth headset can be comfortable and a watch can be a basic remote control that might work (caller ID, battery, time, start voice input and that’s about it on the watch).

  • http://twitter.com/DrAzraelTod Dr. Azrael Tod

    i don’t see me holding my watch against my ear. but most of the time i allready carry my big phillips bt-headset with me. those combined with a pebble-like smartwatch are the way to go.

    …but i don’t want tablets, more something like my toshiba ac100, but with more RAM.

  • http://twitter.com/HildyJn Hildy Johnson

    It all depends on the software. The watch needs to be always on and work with a tablet while the tablet’s screen is off and the tablet is locked (So the tablet can stay in storage without any other operations being triggered). For answering a call, it should support voice ccommands for speaking the caller’s name or number and answering, sending to voice mail, or ignoring the call. Building in a small earbud on an internally reeled cord would also facilitate things.

  • Bob

    Some points:

    . In the US, carriers are the gatekeepers of what works with their bandwidth. Because an advancement is a “good idea” isn’t the same as “good business case” for the carriers.

    . It (smartwatch+tablet) is not a good idea. The smartphone’s ace is that it’s pocketable, and it’s got a large enough screen for portable use. The smartwatch alone is useless, and you can’t lug a tablet around unless you have a purse/murse.

    . Using a smartwatch is more awkward than using a smarphone or feature phone. It can’t replace a BT headset.

    • http://ktbradford.com K. T. Bradford

      Unless you’re jogging who doesn’t carry a bag with them? And there’s nothing wrong with sporting a European Man Bag.

      • KenTFM

        To your question: Millions. That’s what pockets are for.
        As to the EMB, there is tons wrong with it but let’s start with the fact that it is a purse no matter what euphemisms people come up with.

  • http://ktbradford.com K. T. Bradford

    I’m amused by the number of you who think I’m advocating for holding the smartwatch up to your ear. Have a wired or wireless headset connected to the smartwatch.

  • AlexAdam

    I think it could be the next big thing. If you take a lot of “smart” out of the watchphone, the battery will last longer. You use the tablet as the calculating hub and the watch as message center. Voice calling would be great.

  • freedune

    In 10 or 20 years, the world will turn around, and everybody will start carrying a 4″ screen in their pockets again for information and communication – who wants continuous intrusion with those in-canal speakers and virtual screen eyeglasses, especially when most of them won’t be wearing eyeglasses?

  • Nathan Church

    It’s about time that the smart watch, paired with a large tablet/phone and a bluetooth ear piece, simplifies life for all of us that are tied to our smart phones, with a tablet, with a laptop, and finally, with a desktop, I am so tired of trying to keep apps up to date on all of these resources. I went to a man purse many years ago, and for those too masculine to buy into this, they can easily get away with a backpack. Please manufacturers, give us this set-up so that we can get our work done without the long list of devices to manage and lug around!!!!!!