August 2014: If you’ve been waiting for a smartwatch that looks good and lets you get information from your Android without taking it out of your pocket — they’re here! If you’ve been waiting for one that works like a tiny smartphone, you may want to keep waiting. Like, maybe for Apple’s model that’s rumored to leap into stores this October.
Here are 10 things to help you decide if the new smart(er)watches are useful tools or just new toys:
Three new watches take advantage of Google’s new Android Wear software — Samsung Gear Live ($199), LG G Watch ($220) and Motorola Moto360 (soon to be released). All run Android 4.3+, a requirement to take advantage of Android Wear.
1. They are advertised to be “always on,” which is so much better than sometimes on or push-a-button on.
2. They get attention — they’re still pretty big. For a watch. But they’re pretty small for a smartphone. The screens are about 1.65 inches (diagonal).
3. They connect to your Android. No Bluetooth connection to your nearby smartphone? No watch, sorry.
4. They get information from your smartphone without having to use your hands. Use voice commands that begin with “Okay Google” (just like you do with Google Glass) and the watch responds.
5. They let you Google stuff. Use the same “Okay Google” prompt, followed by your query.
6. They let you monitor the weather incessantly. Just look at your wrist. It’s constantly updated.
7. They stand up to the elements. No need to take it off while showering or hopping around the desert.
8. They last all day. But not all night. You’ll need to recharge.
9. They can display a lot of the same notifications as your smartphone. Texts, appointments, reminders, more.
10. They can track your movements with built-in sensors. Great for syncing with the rising tide of health and fitness apps. And they have enough memory (4GB) to store the information for later.
If you’re not sure your smartphone is running Android 4.3+, visit g.co/WearCheck from your phone to check compatibility.
Of course, these are just the latest smartwatch options. Smartwatches have a long (and somewhat bumpy) history, lots of fans and blogs, and their share of haters and naysayers. If you’re looking for models with specific features, like analog faces or front and rear cameras, check these lists from FindTheBest and TopTenReviews.
And if you want to keep tabs on when Apple will release its version, you can track it with websites like MacRumors and re/code.
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