I fell in love with smartwatches when I got my hands on the first generation Moto 360, a beautifully designed, gorgeous smartwatch with Google’s first smartwatch OS. Since then, I’ve tried and reviewed more than a dozen fitness wearables, including the Apple Watch SE and the Amazfit GTR and GTS series. And over time, I absolutely dislike the product segment.
I gave up on smartwatches a few months ago and here’s why I won’t be going back anytime soon (unless it’s for review purposes).
Dates, dates and more dates
I used to wear a smartwatch to sleep. And my daily routine after waking up was to check how many hours I slept. The habit sucked me in first to the smartwatch and then to the app. I would barely be awake and immediately bombarded with data – light sleep, deep sleep, REM and more.
And once that was done, I got into the habit of checking other fitness data—like the number of steps I walked the previous day and how many calories I consumed. In the first 20 minutes of the day, I was already drawn into the screen. .
As if that wasn’t enough, every time I raised my wrist to look at the time, I was once again faced with information overload. Raise your wrist to check the time? Here is the number of kilometers you have walked today. Did the day end without a long walk? Oh, here’s an annoying notification about how you missed your target. Are you working on closing these activity circles? Here’s a badge for you.
Wearing a smartwatch is throwing data in your face. And most of the time you don’t know what to do with this data.
Smart watches may help some people stay fit or get in shape, but no amount of wearing rings or sharing fitness data with friends motivates me to exercise more. In fact, I got more irritated every time I saw one of my friends closing the rings while I was sitting there eating a big bite of pizza.
I don’t want to be always at the disposal of the gadget
Smartwatches were developed to be available to you when you need them, not the other way around. I have noticed that the opposite is happening to me.
Are you in a meeting and get a notification? Here let me swipe right to close it. Out with friends and get a ping on your wrist? He’s your boss and he wants this task done tomorrow. Having dinner with your family and you get a spam call? Easy. Click the red icon to exit it.
There are two patterns here. First, not every notification is time dependent. In fact, I will say that most of the notifications you get on your smartwatch are not time sensitive. Notifications can wait. Mostly you look at them on your wrist and wave them away. Second, these notifications interfere with your life in the present moment.
When I have dinner with mom and dad, I don’t want it buzzing on my wrist. Let me eat in peace. Let me hang out with my friends without having to be constantly connected to the virtual world after work. Allow me to be attentive in a meeting without being pulled out of the conversation every few minutes.
It may sound like a cliché, but I really wish people could be present with what they’re doing – without being distracted by a little device buzzing on their wrist. For me, one in 10 notifications might be time dependent and require my attention. In an effort to not miss that one notification, I exposed myself to nine unnecessary notifications that distracted me from what I was doing in real life.
You can always wear your smartwatch and turn off notifications. But is that really what you bought a smartwatch for? A fitness band would do.
Live a stress free life
With such annoyances, it was natural for me to get frustrated and resign myself to the form factor. I switched to the good old G-Shocks and Tissots of the world. I no longer have to wait a split second when I raise my wrist to see the time. When I want to check the date, I only look at the information I need, not the dates the watch wants to give me.
Now my watch works – and it should. In a world full of data where we want to track every calorie intake and every step we take, it’s sometimes wise to take a step back and look at our choices. Are you always available for your smartwatch or is it always available for you? If it’s the former, you know it’s time to take a break from all the metrics and pull out your stupid watch — just like me.
There is something liberating about not being a slave to data. I’m not in a hurry to close the circles anymore. I don’t need to track every calorie I eat. I don’t care about the amount of deep sleep I get. But at the same time, I live a healthier life because the stress of the data on my wrist is no longer competing for space in my mind. I live a happier life and have no shortage of smartwatches to thank for.