Earlier this week LG took journalists from all over North America, including ourselves, to the theaters for their launch of the LG V10 and the new, confusingly named, Watch Urbane 2nd Edition. While the phone is definitely an intriguing device that budding filmmakers should definitely consider, it’s the new Watch Urbane 2nd Editon that has got us thinking about the future of the smartwatch. This is not the first cellular smartwatch that’s been developed, and we’re sure it won’t be the last, but it is the first running Android Wear, and that’s the important bit. It raises questions of whether we really need cellular connection in our smartwatches and whether or not Android Wear is ready for such a feature.
For a lot of Android Wear owners – myself included – the exclusion of a speaker for voice calls is a head-scratcher. Nobody is wanting to hold long phone calls on their wrist, but for short bursts at the wheel, quick calls while on the move and so on, a speaker would make a lot of sense in devices like the Huawei Watch and indeed, the Watch Urbane itself. However, going so far as to put a full wireless radio inside a smartwatch seems to take things a little too far. Samsung have already done so with the original Gear S, but Android Wear is a very different platform. Designed as much as possible to be an extension of your Android smartphone, Android Wear was never built to be a fully-fledged standalone operating system. Besides, what exactly are we supposed to use the extra connectivity for? Are we going to use our smartwatches like our smartphones all of a sudden? I don’t know about many of you, but I can’t imagine checking my email properly on my watch.
All of this raises the question of whether or not we really need this sort of functionality, or is it just a way of creating bulkier, more expensive devices for the sake of it. Speakers should be on their way to Android Wear devices if Google know what they’re doing, and the platform has matured quickly in about a year, but is it ready for this? Only time will tell, and sales of the Watch Urbane 2nd Edition will be a yardstick for all other manufacturers thinking about adding a SIM card into their next smartwatch.