Few industries are as hot right now as the wearable technology market. Once the thing of science fiction, wearable computing was kicked off in earnest by the Pebble smartwatch. Earning the distinction of being “the most successful Kickstarter project to date,” Pebble raised over $10.2 million and quickly established itself as one of the best and most functional examples of wearable tech. In the wake of that success, other companies have brought competing watches to the market, perhaps most notably the Apple Watch.
What about within the realm of productivity and time management? Can a smartwatch help you keep your time management in check? Or is it more distracting than beneficial?
Craig Jarrow, the author of Time Management Ninja, outlines two significant benefits of a smartwatch:
“Text Messages – Pebble receives text messages (and iMessages) from my iPhone and I can read them on the watch. This seems like a simple thing, yet it is very nice to not have to pull my phone out during a meeting. I can quickly see the message with a glance at my wrist. Much less intrusive.
Answer/Deny Calls – My favorite feature of the Pebble is the ability to screen calls via the watch. When my phone rings, I can see the name of the caller on the Pebble and accept/deny the call with a quick button press. Again, very handy to prevent interruptions.”
Mr. Jarrow had similar thoughts about the Apple Watch:
“It’s Better at Quick Information – The Apple Watch is better at quick information checks: time, weather, quick notifications, than my iPhone.
Keeps You Off Your Phone – The biggest thing for me about the Apple Watch is that it keeps me off my phone. I find myself checking my phone less often. As well, it keeps me from getting sucked into time-wasting activities on my phone. Ever pull out your phone to check the weather and then spend 30 minutes surfing your social networks?
Single Purpose Apps will shine – The watch is not designed for complex apps like your phone. However, single purpose apps will shine on the watch. For example, I summoned an Uber car with one click on my watch. That’s pretty cool.”
A common theme quickly becomes evident: a smartwatch can be a significant boon to productivity and time management, specifically in areas where accessing information quickly and efficiently is important. Adding to its advantages are an increasing number of time management applications that are flocking to the platform.
As with many technologies of the post-industrial era, a smartwatch’s benefits can also be its disadvantages. While it may offer a more focused user experience, most of its features are still dependent on having an iPhone.
“There are plenty iPhone features that aren’t carried over to the wrist. Apple Watch is not a fully-fledged iPhone replacement,” writes Matt Swider and Gareth Beavis for TechRadar. “It makes calls, but it can’t add new contacts. It listens to dictated texts and sends them as an audio message or transcription, but it doesn’t have any sort of edit function.”
While Pebble, Apple and every other smartwatch maker will continue to develop and improve their offerings, some of these limitations are as much a factor as any form of software. This means it could be some time before a smartwatch truly replaces the functionality of a phone for time management, as well as other functions.
Can a smartwatch help you keep your time management in check and increase productivity? Yes—but with caveats. It is an excellent way to quickly access information and reduce distractions. On the other hand, early adopters will continue to experience the limitations that come with any new platform, and especially one with such a small form factor.
Regardless of whether a smartwatch is right for you right now, one thing is certain: As the hottest trend in technology, wearable computing and smartwatches are here to stay and likely to find a place on your wrist sooner rather than later.