From the Editor's Desk: Wiggle it, just a little bit

By Adam Zeis on 17 Feb 2014 01:52 pm

Not a day goes by when I don't attempt to compile my "ultimate" smartwatch in my head. I try to wear different watches throughout the week as there are different features in each of them that I like, some more than others. Comfort is obviously a big deal for me and so is being waterproof (for when I'm behind the bar). Other things come into play as well like battery life and notification management.

One thing I've noticed more and more though is how much I love the light on my Pebble. More so the fact that I can just shake my wrist to turn it on. 

In case you didn't know, I spend two nights a week tending bar. Of course I want to wear a watch when I'm there but I've found it hard to go with anything other than my Pebble thus far. The big numero uno on that choice is that it's waterproof so I don't have to worry about it getting trashed when I dunk my hand in a sink or mistakenly spill something on it. Right off the bat that rules out a number of other devices that can't handle the water torture test. 

With my Pebble I can just flick my wrist, light it up and read away. With the Toq, not so much

However this week I forgot to charge up my Pebble and noticed right before I was leaving the house that it was dying, so I opted for my newly updated Qualcomm Toq instead. It's always been my #2 so I wasn't too worried about anything happening to it. It stands up to the water test pretty well (or so I think judging by the fact that it's still working after getting wet) and it's comfortable enough for me to ignore for hours on end.

One thing I didn't count on however was the two-handed use that comes into play when using it. I guess maybe not two handed since I'm not actually using both hands, but one is obviously out of commission when it's on my wrist.


It breaks down like this: The bar is dark and I need a light on my watch to read my notifications. With my Pebble I can just flick my wrist, light it up and read away. With the Toq, not so much. Notifications come in and I have to tap the screen to read or scroll it, but I also can't read anything without a light. So that means double tapping the band to turn the backlight on as well. Lots of work just to read an email. I also found myself constantly flicking my wrist to get the light to turn on, which it obviously didn't. This also applies to even just checking the time.

So I've realized that for me, one of the biggest features of any watch is actually being able to flick my wrist and have the light come on. Now I know that for many users this feature may not be at all useful, but for me it's definitely tops on my list of ultimate smartwatch features. I've found that I rely on it constantly, expect it to be there and get pissed when it's not. Even when I'm wearing a Toq or Martian or anything else, I find myself flicking away to no avail. 

So what is your current #1 feature in a smartwatch? Hit up the comments and let us know!

Reader comments

From the Editor's Desk: Wiggle it, just a little bit


I love the wrist-flick light on my Pebble, too. Just wish I could adjust the length the light stays on to give me another second or two. Sometimes my older eyes need just a bit longer to adjust and to read the screen.

I turned that off as I worried that I would accidentally turn it on all the time affecting my battery life... Might try it again though as I find sometimes I end up cancelling the notification while trying to activate the light...

I love the wrist-flick light, too. Reminds me of my first digital watch, a Fairchild from the late seventies. You had to flick your wrist to read the time. Of course, it was twice as big and heavy as a Pebble and only gave you the time of day.

Great article with excellent examples of why a specific feature can be so important depending on you circumstances.

I really wanted the capability to leave the phone behind. But that is several features for me: GPS, SIM, Android. Omate is great for that, but does not yet have the companion software and Bluetooth tether to perform as a good companion device when I do have my phone. Pebble definitely takes the big win as a phone companion.

I'm no expert because I've never tried one yet but the whole phone on your wrist thing doesn't appeal to me. but as i've said that may change if i ever get to try one out.

One thing i think we need though is a term to distinguish companion smartwatches like pebble, Toq, and Galaxy Gear. From the "phone on wrist" smartwatches like Omate. You really can't compare the two.

You are right that we need to distinguish between companion vs stand alone devices.
Pebble does everything I need for a companion device. I only wish sometimes I could read a couple more lines of an email.
I like Omate for times that I don't want to carry my phone. And if the waterproofing was more reliable then it would be a pretty great option when things might get messy or wet. If it can do what Pebble does and make it through a day on a charge then I don't need Pebble.

I use the wrist flick so often that I also think I'd be lost without it

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I love the flick-wrist to turn on the light feature. I just wish we could adjust the duration it stays on for. I feel with 2.0 it stays on a lot shorter than it did in v1

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Totally agree: it's these little things that make smart watches so useful and addictive.

Some Pebble apps are using wrist-flick for more than the light. For example, my fitness / calories tracker app (MOTIVE) changes from numeric tracking to summary bar chart when I flick it... just a little bit ;-)

I still don't own one of these but I know as soon as this becomes the top of my list to purchase it will be a Pebble. It reminds me of when I owned a blackberry as it does what I would need it to.

On the other note, Adam you dated yourself with your reference to the 90's in the title. Good stuff. Had me laughing before I even read the article.

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