How Does A Smartwatch Work? — A Complete Guide

how does a smartwatch work
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

Although a fairly recent technology, a smartwatch isn’t an unfamiliar device in our world today. The question, though, is how many know how a smartwatch works? If you’ve ever wondered “how does a smartwatch work?” then you’re right on time. We’ve got a full arsenal of answers for you.

Hitting the ground running, let’s find out what exactly a smartwatch is, first of all.

What Is A Smartwatch?

Smartwatches are new age gadgets and are all the rave right now. There are numerous ways smartwatches make life and living more convenient while simultaneously altering our lifestyles as well.

how does a smartwatch work
Michael Kors Access MKGO Smartwatch

As the word suggests, a smartwatch is a smart gadget. Of course, in our world today, this is an all-important feature for any device that’s going to meet the expectations of customers. Devices that aren’t smart are considered old school as they are rather slow and lack so many features and functions that are simply an aberration to be without in this decade.

Smartwatches work in sync with smartphones, which is how they are designed to function. (Click here to learn How To Pair A Smartwatch With An iPhone).

Everybody has a smartphone, right? At least, everybody who can read this has a smartphone. Smartphones have made life much easier and, in fact, it’s hard to imagine a day in life without them.

Smartphones keep us in the loop by helping us stay on top of the various aspects of our lives. We get texts, calls, emails, and surf the web on our smartphones. Interestingly, a smartwatch can make these functions even more convenient.

Typically, a smartwatch works with an operating system which can either be the Apple’s iOS or an Android Operating System. The market is full of smartwatches that work on each of these platforms.

Worthy of note is the fact that, until recently, Google did not exactly make wearable hardware. It simply created the OS for other companies to build their hardware. However, the company plans to release its Google Pixel Smartwatch soon.

That said, smartwatches not only keep time and help you interact with your apps without the use of your smartphone, they can also help keep track of your vital signs like your heart rate.

With the advancements in technology, more people are beginning to appreciate the benefit smartwatches give them in that they are literally wearing mini computers on their hands. Plus, for the outdoorsy ones, smartwatches are steadily displacing bulkier devices in the adventurer’s kit.

Now, while all this is wonderful, we are yet to answer the question, “how does a smartwatch work?” Well, keep reading because we answer that next.

How Does A Smartwatch Work? — What Can It Do?

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Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS) 44 millimeters Space Gray Aluminum Case

There are many things that smartwatches can do for you, some of which we have already mentioned in the previous subsection. Whether the smartwatch is for daily wear or it is for specific purposes, there are standard features you can find on all smartwatches.

1. Help You Receive Your Notifications

Smartphones give notifications which help you keep track of your important activities and events. These notifications differ according to whether or not your smartwatch is synced with your smartphone or not.

For smartwatches that are synced with a smartphone, the smartwatch will mirror the smartphone in terms of the notifications it displays. For other smartwatches, they might only show smartwatch-only notifications, that is, notifications that only a wearable can provide.

For instance, we have the latest Apple Watch. This smartwatch comes with a fall sensor, so if the wearer falls while still wearing the watch, it tries to detect subsequent movements. If it cannot detect any movement, it will begin sending a series of messages, each escalating in its tone. If it still fails to get a response, then the watch assumes the wearer is injured and alerts the authorities on their behalf.

2. Feature Many Helpful Apps

Another thing a smartwatch does is that it comes with many helpful apps. In truth, how good and useful a smartwatch turns out to be is heavily dependent on the quality of apps it supports.

There are different app ecosystems which revolve around either Apple or Google.

If a smartwatch has one dedicated function, such as a diving watch or a hiking watch, it might not necessarily support other apps besides related ones. That’s only expected and understandable too.

General-purpose smartwatches, on the other hand, usually come with important apps depending on their OS.

3. Helps To Manage Media

For smartwatches that are synced to smartphones, these guys can also help to manage media playback. So, you can change tracks or reduce or increase volume on your smartwatch while listening to music on your iPhone with your AirPods.

4. Reply Messages By Voice

Since smartphones support voice dictation, you will be able to respond to your texts and mails by voice. This is not only cool, it is also super convenient.

5. GPS

how does a smartwatch work
Apple Watch Series 3 GPS 38 millimeters Space Gray Aluminum Case

With most smartwatches, you get GPS which means you can easily track your location as well as receive location-specific alerts.

6. Great Battery Life

Most of the latest smartwatches have a pretty good battery life and can carry you through the day with regular use. You’d even end up with enough juice to go at the end of the day which is pretty good, if you ask us. This battery life varies from watch to watch, naturally. So, while an Apple Watch will give you 18 hours of regular use, a Pebble can give you between 48 and 72 hours.

The Evolution Of The Smartwatch

Feels like digital watches have been around since forever, right? And these guys changed our ways of doing things, some of them featuring functionalities such as unit converters and calculators. However, it wasn’t until 2010 that the first smartwatch was made.

The big players in the field, as usual, were Apple, Samsung, and Sony. There were a few other big names in the market as well. Nonetheless, the credit still goes to Pebble, a small startup, for creating the modern-day smartwatch we know and love back in 2013. Raising a record amount of funds on Kickstarter, the startup went on to sell more than a million units of its Pebble smartwatch.

While this went on, silicone miniaturization advanced more and more and that opened the door to other startups who came in with dedicated-purpose devices.

An example of this dedicated-purpose device is the Fenix. This rugged smartwatch comes fully equipped with trackers and sensors which support expeditions backcountry.

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Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Smartwatch

Another example is the smartwatch by Suunto which is specifically made to support scuba diving, withstanding a prolonged time underwater and at significant depths.

See this video to find out all the reasons to get a smartwatch

Types Of Smartwatches

Speaking broadly, when we talk of smartwatches, there are two main niches which they occupy.

In the first niche, there are the general-purpose smartwatches. Examples of these general-purpose smartwatches include the Apple Watch and most Wear OS devices (powered by Google).

General-purpose smartwatches blend function and form and are designed to replace mechanical watches being heavily dependent on your smartphone. They are like smartphone-support devices that you wear on your wrist.

The three most popular vendor-specific general-purpose smartwatch you’ll find in the market include the Apple watch which is designed and sold by Apple, Wear OS watches which are sold by various vendors but built using the Wear OS operating system by Google, and the Tizen watches which are designed and sold by Samsung.

Other niches for smartwatches include specialty watches. Oftentimes, these smartwatches might come with robust fitness trackers such as the Fitbit.

how does a smartwatch work
Fitbit Inspire HR Activity Tracker + Heart Rate

Examples of these specialized devices include hiking watches which support remote travel with their support of weather forecasting, basic vitals, GPS tracking and navigation and a great battery life. These devices are also durable, able to withstand exposure to water, dust, and accidental falls. Examples are the Suunto 9 Baro, Garmin Fenix 5 Plus, and the TomTom Adventurer.

Diving watches are another kind of specialized smartwatches.examples are the Suunto DX and the Garmin Descent MK1. They help divers keep track of temperature, time left, depth, as well as other important indicators.

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Garmin Descent MK1

Finally, we also have flying watches like the Garmin D2 Delta PX which keeps track of NEXRAD weather, pulse Ox, and also supports a GPS-powered moving map.

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