Yes, I have been on a reviewing kick in the past few months. In December of last year I reprised an old article I had written as “A Day in the Life of a Smartphone Enabled Lawyer, which you can read here. In it, I hinted at the upcoming trend of “wearables” that were about to hit the market. For Christmas, I was the recipient of my first wearable device, the Sony Smartwatch SW2. It is actually Sony’s second foray into the wearable market, since their first connected “smart” watch, the SW1, has been available well over a year. So now, I must extend my previous article and regale you with my thoughts on how to use this technology in the practice of the world’s second oldest profession.
Actually, the Sony is only one in a burgeoning area of retail. You’re sure to have heard of the Samsung Gear and/or perhaps the Pebble, the latter of which was a Kickstarter star prior to moving into the Siren’s Song of retail. Even Apple is bringing a late dog to the hunt with the iWatch, although the rumour mill I still buzzing about when it will be released. But there are at least a half dozen other positive contenders already on or near the market: the Qualcomm TOQ, COOKOO, Neptune PINE, i ‘m Watch, Martin, and Central Standard Timing’s CST-01 (just displayed at CES) are examples which come to mind. The designs vary. Some, like the CST-01, are high fashion bracelet designs, some are fairly normal looking watches, like the Martians and the Cookoo, some are B&W, such as the Pebble, while others are more like the color digital displays of the Sony and the Gear.
At first, I thought this was more of a splurge, even a gimmick, but since I am generally an “early adopter,” my family acquiesced to my request of Santa and gifted me with my choice, the Sony. As I opened the package and began to play with it over the holidays, however, I soon to began to realize that this device was much more than a gimmick, it was productive technology.
Before I explain why, some of you may be wondering why I chose the Sony. I chose the SW2 for number of reasons: First, it’s second generation technology, which means Sony had a chance with the SW1 to work out some of the kinks; Secondly, it was much cheaper than most of the competitors, so I wanted to be frugal in my experimentations; Thirdly, it’s closet competitor, the Samsung Gear, had a much lower battery life and a lump on the band that was it’s camera lens. I didn’t like that, and the Gear was almost double the price. Also, the Gear had the added flaw that it ONLY worked with the Galaxy Note and, although that is my phone, I didn’t want to be tied down to a proprietary technology. If I wanted that, I would buy Apple! Lastly, I think the SW2 is one of the more classic looking designs for a watch.
So, how is the smartwatch a productive addition to my day of lawyering? It allows me to “cull” my communications without pulling my smartphone out of my pocket every few minutes. When I receive an email now, it comes into Aquamail, which I have installed on both my phone and my watch. I get a gentle vibration on my wrist, and then a little summary notification of who the mail is from. Now, if the email is one of those annoying spam mails, I simply ignore it with a glance, and I get almost 10 of those type emails for every one critical email I receive from a client. Right there, my day is ten time more efficient.
But that is not all. Answering calls on your wrist is not as “Dick Tracy” fantasy as you might think. I have my bluetooth earpiece connected to my phone and in my ear generally, or I have my phone connected to my car’s audio system. When I receive a call now, I can simply look at my wrist and see who is calling, and then touch on answer to take the call IF I want to take it. I no longer have to pull my phone out of my pocket or locate it in the middle of my desk to find who is calling. Again, a quick glance is all that is needed and, if I want to take the call, it is routed to my headset like always. It truly expedites the act of taking a call. By the way, I can also MAKE phone calls using the wristwatch, since my entire phonebook is accessible on my wrist. Not bad.
One program that I use which bears mention is called “Watchit.” It is installed on the Smartphone and will route the notifications from any app on my Android that I have selected. If you are an Android user, you are familiar with the typical notification that appears in the bar at the top of the phone. You can swipe down to access any notifications. These are now accessible on my wristwatch in much the same manner. I can swipe down on the watch anytime to see the notifications, or I can simply go the app and see the notifications. I use this feature for my to do list and a number of other apps on the Android. Sweet. This app provides notifications from your favorite applications, so you can tailor it to your needs.
As far as sending SMS from the smartwatch, that is entirely possible, although I find that I don’t use it often. But, I have it set up so that I can send a template response if I need to in case I’m in a meeting and can’t get to my phone, that says just that. Handy, again, for the ability to see the substance of the text message with a mere glance. Again, a good filtering process for an active lifestyle. You’re in a meeting, your wife needs a quick response, and you can discreetly respond without having to interrupt the tone of the meeting by yanking out your Galaxy Note and blinding everyone in the dimmed lighting of the restaurant!
Of course, another fun advantage of a “smart” watch is the ability to change watch faces anytime you want. You want a simple digital display (the default), no problem. Do you prefer a more elegant, analog look? Again, simple. Or if you prefer graphics and pictures and all the razzle dazzle, that’s easy as well. There are multiple applications for the SW2 that allow for a variety of watchfaces. Clocki is one of my favorites, as is WatchFaces by NeFa. The latter is particularly useful, as it allows you to change the watchfaces from the watch itself, whereas most of the others require that use the onboard app on the Android phone. Definitely an advantage, but it comes with a much higher price tag and has “in-app” purchases of different styles of watch faces.
So, in the end, I find that I am now relying on my SW2 as an important component of my day. It’s subtle, but that’s how a watch should be. It allows me to filter my productivity and focus on what I need to WHEN I NEED TO. One of the problem with new technology in general is its ubiquitous nature: it’s always there. That leads people to believe that you should be accessible ALL THE TIME. Remember the old days when you called someone who was not at home and it just rang? You assumed they were not at home and went about your business and then called them back later! In today’s society, we live by the rule of instant gratification. We assume that they received our message or voicemail and wonder why they didn’t take the call! The little bit of filtration offered by the smart, wearable technology might just give us a bit more control over who we communicate with. At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.