The HTC smartwatch, an item that I’ve been hearing about over the last few months but have not seen come to fruition yet, just got another boost in the news. Last week, a tech site claimed that, in addition to the upcoming arrival of the HTC One M10, which may or may not arrive at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2016, the Taiwanese manufacturer will also bring an HTC smartwatch to market. The constant confirmations from various sources seems to give credence to the idea, so we can expect an HTC wrist wearable to make its way into the spotlight as the days progress.
At the same time, however, the HTC smartwatch will have to line up with all the other Android Wear smartwatches on the market because the same rumors state that the wrist wearable will run Android Wear, Google’s wearables platform. Android Wear is owned and operated by Google, and the search engine giant has given its OEMs the “hands-off” signal when it comes to device software in AW. Companies can dabble in hardware all they want, but they can’t touch the software since AW is Google’s domain.
An HTC smartwatch running Android Wear leaves the upcoming device in a precarious situation: with the same software as the Asus ZenWatch 2, Huawei Watch, Watch Jewel and Watch Elegant, LG Watch Urbane 2, and Motorola Moto 360 2015 Edition, how can the HTC smartwatch stand out in Android Wear?
Fortunately, I’ve got five suggestions designed to help HTC win the smartwatch competition against its Android Wear rivals. Keep in mind that I’m not referring to Microsoft with its Band 2, Apple with its Apple Watch, or even Samsung with the Gear S2 here when I mention Android Wear.
Now, on to the five ways that the HTC smartwatch can steal the Android Wear “thunder.”
An HTC Smartwatch should have both circular and square forms
Android Wear in many ways has been a game of “who’s the most expensive one of all,” but AW has also been a battleground for smartwatch form factors. The first generation of Android Wear smartwatches all utilized square form factors (Motorola with its Moto 360 being the one exception to the rule). The LG G Watch had a square form factor, as did the first-generation Asus ZenWatch (though its square display had rounded corners instead of square ones), Samsung Gear Live (yes, Samsung had an AW smartwatch), and Sony Smartwatch 3 all had square form factors. These were the days before the Huawei Watch, TAG Heuer Connected Carrera, and Casio WSD-F10, mind you. These were the days before the Apple Watch emerged (Apple’s wrist wearable wouldn’t arrive until nearly a year later, though it was announced just 4 months after Android Wear officially launched at Google I/O 2014).
Motorola’s Moto 360 blazed a trail that AW manufacturers have been running with ever since (LG Watch Urbane, Huawei Watch, etc.), but there are many consumers who still prefer square form factors for smartwatches. There are advantages to both square and round shapes (and there isn’t enough time to cover them here), but it all boils down to customization and choice. Consumers simply want choice, the right to choose the display shape that matters to them – and the HTC smartwatch should take advantage of both shapes in customer choice.
If anything, this will allow the HTC smartwatch to be separate and in the spotlight as compared to its Android Wear rivals. After all, customers will never complain about choice.
An HTC Smartwatch should ditch magnetic charging cradles and embrace wireless charging
Motorola’s Moto 360 is the only smartwatch in Android Wear that has wireless charging, and this is a shame (since wireless charging, or remote charging, is the wave of the future). Most Android Wear smartwatches utilize magnetic cradle charging, even if they offer wireless charging as an option.
Like Motorola’s Moto 360, the HTC smartwatch should ditch the “magnetic” charging cradle charm of its rivals and embrace Motorola’s wireless charging because of the following two reasons: 1) first, the Moto 360 is the King smartwatch in Android Wear and 2) HTC wants its smartwatch to at least match the top smartwatch, if not surpass it.
Current AW rivals want to have people rely on magnetic charging cradles, but wear and tear will cause those cradles to eventually stop working – at which point, the smartwatches themselves won’t be able to charge without users purchasing new ones. A wireless charging cradle setup, however, would not mandate magnetic charging (which could wear off the device) but allow users to sit the HTC smartwatch down on a small charging pad, walk away, and pick it up when consumers want it.
By going with wireless charging instead of magnetic charging, the HTC smartwatch would also futureproof itself against its AW rivals. When it comes to customer demand, having one thing to set you apart may make the difference between someone buying the HTC smartwatch or the tried-and-true (and popular) Moto 360.
I’ve covered two ways an HTC smartwatch could outwit its Android Wear rivals. Stay tuned. There are three more ways on the way in tomorrow’s post.