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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  • Alexey291 - Saturday, July 12, 2014 - link

    Well that's deffo a case of ymmv when it comes to breaking stuff :) Reply
  • mkozakewich - Sunday, July 13, 2014 - link

    Simple: You just need to buy the jeweller's loop attachment. Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    I could get on board with that. As these watches stand now, they're of no real interest. How many platforms are we supposed to carry around, anyway? Reply
  • jooj32 - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    I'm still waiting until my smatphone can replace my notebook. Reply
  • hamiltenor - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    I enjoy the pebble for what it is. A "dumb" device that gets all the information it needs from the phone is what I wanted when I thought about a device I attach to my wrist.

    Sure, it tells the time, but it also serves as a remote for my music throughout the day at work. I'm interrupted several times a day on average and it's nice to be able to pause the music I'm listening to without having to turn on the screen of my phone.

    I don't understand the usefulness or need for something that isn't simply an extension of my phone. Most of these new watches want to be a companion device, but I think that's stupid.
    Reply
  • ivan256 - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    I have a Pebble smartwatch. I love it, and I'm never going to wear it again.

    The battery/charging technology just isn't there yet. And wireless charging isn't the answer - in fact it doesn't help at all.

    The Pebble has variable length battery life. It's between 2 and 7 days depending on how many alerts you get. And it takes hours to charge.

    The reason wireless charging doesn't help is that you can't charge it while you're wearing it. It'll have to be on the power mat. A watch isn't like a phone. You can't pop it out of your pocket and plug it in for a few minutes here and there. It's annoying to take it off, and it doesn't function as you expect while you're not wearing it.

    What needs to happen is that smart watches need to take a multi-day charge at extremely high current. 15-30 seconds tops. Some sort of liquid fuel-cell that you can quickly refill would be acceptable as well. Until then smartwatches will be too frustrating.
    Reply
  • silenceisgolden - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    Round face or a really amazing square faced one. Waiting on Moto 360 and will buy when it releases. It would be very interesting for Anandtech to open an Ecosystem section where they review certain devices in the context of their pairings, or even reviewing the Ecosystem itself in different contexts (consumer, enterprise, etc.). Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    The device needs to have a minimum 10 day run time if you use it strictly as a watch and for other very limited data, such as current temperature, pedometer, phone notifications, etc. The only way to accomplish that is to be tethered to your phone via bluetooth, and let the phone do most of the heavy lifting, using the watch more as a dumb terminal. It needs to be clocked very low, and spend most of its time in a forced sleep state.

    I have no interest in a device that has to be charged multiple times per week.
    Reply
  • imaheadcase - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    None of these devices will take off, the invention of the phone killed watches for a reason.
    The price for a basic smartphone is superior to a smartwatch and can do more. I don't understand what these companies are thinking pushing these and investing in them. I think I know one person who has a watch, my uncle who does not trust the government so has no phone.
    Reply
  • Alexey291 - Friday, July 11, 2014 - link

    Well technically I own a watch... I wear it as a woman would wear a piece of jewellery "on social occasions"... And still catch myself checking time on the phone xD Reply

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