Smartwatches and wearables of all types seem to be the focus of a slew of new products launched around CES 2014. Now, as promised, Google has officially announced their new wearables extension/subset of the Android platform aiming for a reduced footprint and a more targeted user-device experience than their smartphone and tablet offering. With some major players such as Pebble, Sony, and Samsung already in the wearables arena and Apple reportedly on the way, this is a great time for Google to step in and attempt standardization as well as form alliances with device manufacturers.
While watching the concept video for the smartwatch, I thought one feature stood out as a potential for annoyance: the “OK, Google” mechanism for accessing the watch’s features through voice controls. As if the current offerings (and Siri for iOS) wasn’t enough of a step in the direction of Dick Tracy, controlling your watch by engaging with voice services just feels like a strange concept.
I find it annoying enough to have people walking through the mall with their Bluetooth headset or Earpods in (or Beats, the latest in this category), shouting to the person on the other end while I am trying to request assistance from a staff member or simply check out. Add to this mix the people who are going to be issuing commands to their devices (Google Glass and this new concept of a smartwatch) and I sense that craziness could ensue.
Call me Grumpy Cat, but I enjoy the social norms that enforce relative silence when appropriate (I know, this is arguable). The fact that my Pebble never makes an audible noise is a major bonus for me (OK, if I am charging it and it vibrates it resonates against the material it is on). I’m hoping that this concept is truly just a peek into what could be and not where the majority of devices will head.