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By 3 October 2014 | Categories: news

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Apple is trying to convince you that your watch is stupid. My watch, a Swatch, made using impressive yet affordable Swiss technology, tells the time really reliably, using a complex array of springs, gears and whatever else watches have inside them. 

When a person is smart, you generally would say, “that person really knows what time it is”. Well my watch really knows what time it is too, which is more than I can say for myself. In fact, it’s precisely my inability to know what time it is that caused me to buy it in the first place. But according to Apple, my watch isn’t smart enough. If they have their way, I would buy their Apple Watch instead, because Apple claim their watch is much smarter than mine. 

Once upon a time, before smartphones, phones were kind of useless. They couldn’t tell you the weather, help you work out which way north is or double up as a torch. They had no application when it came to social networking, unless you mean in the old fashioned sense of the term ‘social networking’, i.e. having a conversation with another person on the phone. You couldn’t spend 6 out of 8 hours a working day playing Candy Crush on it, all the while drawing a salary from the unsuspecting company you work for. It was tough back then in the dark ages.

And yet … you could use those phones to call people and talk to them. This is something that gets a bit lost in translation when it comes to today’s phones. First of all, I mostly have no battery left on my phone due to using it for playing Candy Crush, and then people have to leave me voicemail messages, rendering it about as smart as a landline phone in the 1980s with an answering machine. Secondly, no-one can ever hear me, and I can never hear them, because Cell C. I must confess I sometimes miss the cheap Nokia I used to have, which excelled only at making calls and playing snake. 

And that’s how I feel about the Apple Watch, and smartwatches in general. Am I a Luddite, someone who hates technology and wishes we could all go back to riding horse drawn carriages and sending telegrams, just because I like my watch the way it is now? 

In the future, will we have to recharge our watches because we spent too much time Facebooking on them? Will we have to switch them off so that we can avoid colleagues who contact us on Sunday evenings? Will people at restaurants stop talking to each other because they are too busy playing with their watches?

My prediction is that soon, everyone will have smartwatches, but most of them will have no battery power left by 2 pm each day. But I will keep my old, simple watch, and so people will ask me the time, and I will tell them the time. And, as they walk away, they will correctly think to themselves, ‘that guy really knows what time it is’.

Article first published in TechSmart 133 (October 2014). 

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