Will 2016 be the year of the smartwatch?

Picture: Smartwatches were available throughout 2015

Picture: Smartwatches were available throughout 2015

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ALREADY 2016 is shaping up to be an exciting year for wareable technology and much of the hype surrounding this burgeoning market is centred on the smartwatch.

Smartwatches have been on the market for a considerable amount of time but in contrast to the smartphone or tablet, have yet to find their feet when it comes to mass market appeal. A plethora of designs are already availiable from many of the industry’s major players, such as Apple, Sony and Samsung and with the next-generation about to appear in the shops, we could be about to see them becoming a must-have accessory.

I can’t see smartwatches becoming the norm. People don’t want to talk to their wrists

Colin Kelly

The products provide a quick and easy way to check your notifications without the use of your actual phone. Therefore, your phone and watch must be compatible.

The wrist bound gadgets, are much more than an extension of your smartphone. The latest models offer users a variety of functions that include: directions, voice activated google searches, real time news stream, music player, online shopping, fully customisable appearance and the all important ability to draw and send your own emoji.

To gauge opinion on whether the smartwatch really can come into its own this year, we spoke to tech blogger and media innovations director Andrew Girdwood and gadget expert Colin Kelly.

READ MORE: Six gadgets to look forward to in 2016

Despite the excitement around smartwatches in the technology industy, both men were sceptical as to the products mass appeal.

Gadget guru Colin Kelly thinks the smartwatch is “a gadget too far for most people” and is unsure whether other firms will be able to penetrate the market successful as Apple has.

He said, “We have to recognise the difference between the Apple Watch being a success for Apple and smartwatches in general becoming the norm”.

“With such a passionate fanbase, Apple were always likely to succeed with their watch and just as the iPad came to dominate the entire tablet market, they’ve done the same with smartwatches, but I can’t see smartwatches becoming the norm. People don’t want to talk to their wrists, so while we might use a watch to read an email, we’ll still use our phones to reply.

“Samsung and Sony, among others, have their own, half decent smart watches, and they’re considerably cheaper than Apple’s, but they are, only half decent - they’re clunky, have several flaws, and lack the sleek looks of Apple.”

Poor battery life, disappointing apps and a clash with fitness trackers already round peoples wrists will hold the smartwatch back in sales, according to Colin.

“Where smartwatches have had an impact is helping us pay for things. They’ve helped promote Apple Pay which has been adopted very quickly by retailers. Contactless is becoming commonplace and will break through in 2016 but I don’t see it happening much with watches, it’ll be phones and contactless cards that we’ll use.”

Andrew Girdwood believes that, although 2016 will be an important year for smartwatches, it won’t be ‘the year of’ the smartwatch.

READ MORE: Andrew Girdwood: Diverse future of Scottish gaming

“We had this phenomenon with phones and trying to call “the year of mobile”, he explains.

“Every coming year, for years, was supposed to be the year of mobile. I suggest the year of mobile was when people stopped blaming their phones for being unable to interact with brands and the web and started to blame brands for not being compatible with their phone. 

“With this in mind 2016 won’t be the year of the smartwatch because people will still blame their smartwatch if it can’t do something rather than attribute the failure to brand or app they were trying to interact with.”

One of the main downfalls of the smartwatch is the price tag. They aren’t products you can’t live without, like a smartphone, making people less likely to pay upwards of £250 to get one. The perfect smartwatch in terms of functionality, comfort and style is yet to become available so until that happens, will anyone buy into it?

Issues with smartwatches have been raised continuously since their emergence by industry experts and, while companies battle against each other to make their products more attractive. Only time will tell whether the smartwatch really takes off.

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