For the past couple of years we've noticed a shift in focus of dominant players in the smartphone space. As the smartphone market moves from rapid expansion to a maturing phase, the companies on top don't want to be left behind in the same way the notebook PC vendors were at the start of the smartphone/tablet race.

At the same time, continued reduction in transistor feature sizes and power consumption have enabled a new class of low power SoC. ARM's product offerings in particular extend both up and down the power curve. There's Cortex M for ultra low power devices, often perfect for wearables, and then a range of Cortex A CPUs for higher end wearables all the way up to smartphones, tablets and eventually servers. 

Initial successes in the wearables space were specialized pieces of hardware. For example, pedometers and health trackers like the Fitbits of the world. Most of these designs leverage Cortex M series CPU cores. More recently however we've seen a more serious push into the world of smart watches. Initial plays here were more disorganized in terms of hardware and OS selection, but we're beginning to see some consolidation on the heels of Google's Android Wear announcement. 

At last month's Google IO we saw the first official Android Wear devices launch from LG and Samsung. Later this summer we'll also see the arrival of the Moto 360, an arguably much more appealing Android Wear device thanks to a greater focus on design. I've spent the past couple of weeks with LG's G Watch and am still toying with the best way to present my thoughts on the device. In short it seems like a great platform if you're a developer, but honestly lacks the battery life (I measured under 9 hours of actual use, display on but dimmed on a single charge) and feature set today to really convince me as a consumer.

Last month we soft launched our new Wearables content section at AnandTech, with ARM graciously agreeing to be a launch sponsor. ARM's support will allow us to likely do some wearable giveaways in the not too distant future too.

The path to wearable computing becoming something more substantial however demands a lot of things to change. If we're talking about watches we need better battery life, the functionality needs to improve as well (although I am impressed by some of what's already been introduced for Android Wear). I'm curious to get your thoughts on the wearable space. What would it take for you to add yet another computing platform to your life? Is anyone out there waiting for the perfect smart watch? I know I stopped wearing watches nearly a decade ago, and to go back I'll likely need quite a bit of convincing in terms of a great product.

If you've got thoughts on this space, we'd love to hear them as they'll help shape our coverage going forward. Leave your comments below.

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  • Notmyusualid - Saturday, July 12, 2014 - link

    To all those of you here that say a new smartwatch (or other device) needs to be "cheap";

    ...may I direct you over to the nearest Rolex store to see what people are willing to pay for a quality item on their wrist.

    And why should the fine electronic engineering, as opposed to the mechanical engineering of a Rolex not command an equally high price? It is not like Rolexs' are lightweight.

    Having had a gold Rolex, five Tag Heuers' (three of which were 1/2 gold), and a number of other watches, I know I am willing to pay for a quality item, so get making it!
    Reply
  • Notmyusualid - Saturday, July 12, 2014 - link

    Anandtech - for the love of the Lord, please switch to Disqus so we can EDIT!!! Reply
  • Alexey291 - Saturday, July 12, 2014 - link

    So um... Who cares that you spent lots of money of jewellery?

    There's a reason why the majority of "swiss watch" manufacturers are now owned by 1 single company. Because they have all gone bankrupt. Mostly due to them producing overpriced (well that's questionable I agree) jewellery for men which holds literally 0 purpose these days.

    Smartwatches claim to have a purpose aside from just "looking pretty" (which neither rolexes nor the current crop of smartwatches do). Except ofc they don't have that claimed purpose. They are just jewellery. Just like normal watches.

    And seriously rolexes or tags aren't even expensive so stop trying to show off.
    Reply
  • Betak - Saturday, July 12, 2014 - link

    Wearables integrated in clothes might be okay, but I would never wear it if it were directly "attached" to the body. Reply
  • gfieldew - Saturday, July 12, 2014 - link

    I have the Samsung Gear Live. After 14 hours off the charger it had 40% battery left and I'd given it plenty of use. I've only had it for a day and a half. The full day I used it I was wanting to try out all the different features.

    One of my favourite tricks is the turn of the wrist toward your face to turn on the display. I kept all the notifications turned on and found that at times I could delete unnecessary emails and ignore some Facebook messages with a flick of the wrist and a couple of touches. It was great that I didn't have to pull my phone out my pocket to do these trivial things.

    The battery life will likely be good enough for me. I charge my phones and tablets overnight and I don't find it bothersome. I am a little concerned about the plasticky charging attachment. It looks like it could fall apart without too much stress.
    Reply
  • gfieldew - Saturday, July 12, 2014 - link

    Oops, forgot to say thank-you. I am a long time reader of this site and have always appreciated the professionalism of Anand and the other writers. Looking forward to your Android Wear Review 👍 Reply
  • TheJian - Saturday, July 12, 2014 - link

    I have no use for small screens. I don't even use a phone for anything other than an actual call 99% of the time. I grit my teeth using my dad's 10in nexus for browsing the web...LOL. Other than VERY specific needs and not very often, I don't see how these will ever sell. GPS or something on your wrist for a bike rider or someone who can't carry a phone etc, runners maybe, not much use for anyone else. Why would you look at your watch when you have a huge (ROFL) phone screen to look at already? You don't need 2 ways to see the same info. The one that is 1-2in will never get looked at past the first week of "wow that was cool for a second". People will hear their friends say it's useless and sales will tank.

    Are any models selling well? I prefer a great looking diamond watch compared to this plastic crap annoying me with yet more messages/input to deal with. I have zero use for these vs. my rather expensive classy looking 40 diamond watch ;) I don't think a wearable says the same thing to the ladies either (you can make of that whatever you will...LOL) :)
    Reply
  • Frenetic Pony - Saturday, July 12, 2014 - link

    Wearables feel like a category desperately in need of a Steve Jobs. Right now they certainly don't do enough for mainstream adoption, though gadget geeks that think it looks cool too will snap them up. But there's probably enough possible functionality to make them mainstream, if someone with the vision to see what that functionality was and had the power to yell at good engineers until they made it happen. Reply
  • LtPage1 - Saturday, July 12, 2014 - link

    I have yet to see anything that makes me interested. So far, the only real benefit seems to be not having to take my phone out of my pocket. In exchange for that minuscule benefit, I get to wear an ugly screen on my wrist that I have to charge every day. No thanks. Glass intrigues me, but only because of what I imagine it'll be capable of in 10 years. Call me when it's invisibly integrated into my contacts or normal-looking prescription glasses. Hopefully in 10 years our phones will be smart enough and fast enough to make it useful, too. It's irritating enough when my phone takes a few seconds to look something up, misinterprets my voice command, or gets hung up for a minute when I walk outside of a wi-fi network. Having it constantly in front of my face while it's being slow or screwing up is not something I want. So far the only "new" inventions seems to be fitness motivators like FitBit, which don't seem to do anything but tell me how far I run, or how many steps I take. This is not useful information. Reply
  • isa - Saturday, July 12, 2014 - link

    In general, wearables look promising. Biggest beef with the current and upcoming smartwatches: they still need a smartphone in communications range. I won't be interested in smartwatches until they contain some sort of SIM card to make and receive calls, and contain accurate GPS sop that I can at times leave the smartphone at home.

    Second beef with any wearable that contains GPS: the firmware is generally balky and GPS accuracy is very finicky and inaccurate in common situations. Hopefully wearables can take advantage ASAP of the new L2C signal that began broadcasting in April.
    Reply

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