The LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE: Smartphone Killer
I have an admission to make: I don’t want a smartphone. Sure, I’ve talked about often having a pocketable device that I can use as my portable computer in some way over the years, but I’ve come to the conclusion that such a device does not need to be a smartphone.
But that said, I do want a communications device (which can be a very different thing than a smartphone). Yes, I’d like to be able to get in touch with friends and lovers via a quick text or a phone call, and as I’m sure you can already conclude, that doesn’t need to be a smartphone. Sure, I’d also like a portable device that can play podcasts and music. And having a handy GPS device is nice, too. Yeah, a Bitcoin wallet would be good, too. That about covers it. But, wonder of wonders…none of that requires a smartphone!
Now I’m not saying anyone needs to backtrack as far as “tech” goes. I mean, I think owning a “dumbphone/feature phone” is a fine thing (I own one myself as my daily driver), but that’s not a necessity either, and certainly everything I described above is entirely–and easily–possible with the right feature phone (even the Bitcoin wallet and GPS). Nor am I saying you need to do all of that on a laptop or something and dump your smartphone. Not necessary at all (though you may want to dump the smartphone). And I’m not saying you need a tablet either (at least in the future you may not need it).
I’m talking about a whole new communications device form factor that isn’t that new, and that may have just fallen in our laps. I give you the just-announced LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE. While I have talked about the first edition of this watch in the past on my sciene and tech podcast–Sovryn Tech–and discussed its potential as being a completely standalone device–no smartphone required–the Urbane 2nd Edition may finally really deliver the goods.
It’s unclear whether or not this will require a phone at all (like other Android Wear devices do), from what’s loaded in this little package of a watch would suggest it doesn’t need one at all. It has its own SIM card. It has bluetooth device/headset compatibility. It has its own GPS. It has a 480×480 screen (on the larger side of Android Wear devices). This thing has it all (though I’m not sure about onboard storage, if it had a MicroSD card slot, that would’ve been perfect). And you can use all the Android Wear apps that have really shaped up (for what they are). And unlike its first edition predecessor, it will be released in the US (the other was only available in Korea). Some might say that a lack of a camera would be an issue, but I disagree, that’s a plus in my book.
And hey, as the Dark Android Project is what I generally discuss here, I totally recognize the need for some kind of open-source Android Wear OS to get developed. But as far as getting away from Alphabet/Google, Microsoft has a full (and more impressive) complement of Android Wear apps (and of course there’s Telegram on Android Wear). So you can get away from Alphabet/Google quite a bit in the use of Android Wear.
Honestly, if this doesn’t operate as a totally standalone device (and it’s unclear whether or not it will, or if you can even just pair it with a tablet), I’d almost get conspiratorial as to why. Is it because it doesn’t have as many apps and sensors to be able to track you? Yeah, I’m going kinda far out with that, but I wonder often how much the US government subsidizes the smart device/phone market (other than Apple, which clearly doesn’t need subsidizing, but we don’t really know with other companies as they never report their earnings or sales). Not to say the Urbane 2nd Edition LTE wouldn’t allow for tracking and privacy-invasion (it certainly would), but perhaps not to the level that companies, advertisers, and the NSA would like. And I want to be clear, if I have to have a smartphone AND the Urbane 2nd Edition LTE for it to function, I consider the watch pointless. I don’t want to add on more devices to my life, I want to eliminate how much I need to carry.
And that leads me to what excites me about the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE: I don’t have to carry a smartphone. Literally. As in, I wear a watch (and I still do wear a watch, actually, a classic Casio calculator watch). So getting a smartwatch that works entirely on its own (again, no phone required) would make one less thing for me to worry about. And I could always have it with me (if I wanted to do that) and not forget it.
And my mind has actually changed a bit on wearables as a form factor. I actually think that smartphones–the classic slabs that they are–is a TERRIBLE form factor for productivity, and an unnecessary one for basic communications and other things. Touchscreens suck as interface devices when it comes to productivity–or even REAL video games–but they would work very well for sending simple texts and for making phone calls. And I think a smartwatch could handle both of these very well. They could also make for excellent GPS/map devices (which the Urbane 2nd Edition LTE would do, though I prefer a GPS-specific device even over a smartphone). And with a bluetooth headset, it’d be great for streaming music, listening to podcasts, and even making phone or Skype calls.
The real kicker here with LG’s new offering, though, shines upon my love of Star Trek. I’ve wanted a communicator badge, or even the wrist communicators worn in my favorite Star Trek film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, for so long. In fact, I think the wrist communicator is the best design the Star Trek franchise every came up with.
See what I mean? That’s brilliant Sitting on phones and having to pull them out all the time, etc. (yeah, yeah, I know, first world problems), really can be a pain in the ass which leads to broken and even lost phones, and frankly I’ve gotten to the point that I don’t want to do that much on my smartphone in the first place. It sucks at anything important. I don’t really want to read on them either (I read for hours on end at times, and I’m sick of that screen giving me a goddamned headache). I’ll leave all of that to other things.
In the end I’ve realized I don’t need or want a device that does everything a smartphone does (but I will forever need a watch). I think all of those mobile apps are tricking you into doing things on your smartphone that you’d really rather do on your desktop or laptop. I just want something that communicates with my friends and lovers while I’m away, or while I’m not sitting at my “home base” computer, and I’ve come to realize that a smartwatch is actually the perfect device for that–if it’s standalone.
And hey, maybe even I could actually still play some games on it?
Yeahhh…no…I’ll leave that to my laptop, too. But I can’t wait for the standalone smartwatch. It may not be ready to be a Dark Android device yet, but it will certainly go a long way towards putting our lives back into perspective: a perspective that doesn’t have a 5″-6″ screen in front of it.