Monday, February 15, 2016

In Defense of the Smartwatch

When the Apple watch was first coming out, I remember an Apple friend of mine arguing on Facebook that there was no point to it.  In fact, he felt that watches in general were passé. Why wear a watch when you have a phone in your pocket?

I couldn't disagree more.  I started with my first smartwatch back in the mid 90s.  I had a Timex Datalink watch which housed my contacts, tasks, and calendar from my computer. In transferred the information by flashing lines across the screen which the watch read with an "eye" on the watch face. This was before anyone was carrying around a Palm Pilot.

Admittedly, PDAs and smartphones seemed to remove the need for a smartwatch.  Once I started carrying a Palm, the need to export my information to my watch seemed redundant.  However, the smartphone added a whole new layer to the personal assistant experience, and I find that a smartwatch really allows one to better use all the functions of their phone.  Let me list the ways my smartwatch makes my life easier.  I have a Samsung Neo Gear 2.
  • Texting - I do not need to fish my phone out of my pocket to see a text or respond to it.  Sure, for longer responses I do.  But often, I am in a meeting or in class and can look at my watch and reply with a number of pre-set responses like yes, no, or I'll text you after my meeting.
  • I can take a call on it.  I admit, when I first saw this as one of its features I thought "Why in the heck would anyone talk on their watch rather than pull out their phone?!"  Actually though, I find myself doing it all the time.  Most often it is when I am at home, and my phone is on a charger somewhere.  Rather than running upstairs or downstairs to grab my phone, I just take the call on my watch.
  • Vocal commands.  My watch is connected to my phone's AI.  So pretty much anything I could ask or command on my phone, I can do on my watch.  Weather, setting appointments, general questions.  A press of the button on my watch is often more convenient and faster than grabbing my phone out of my pocket.
  • Pedometer.  My watch replaced my Fitbit.
  • Find my phone.  If I can't find my phone, I hit a button on my watch and my phone will ring. Concordantly, my phone can find my watch.
  • Never forget my phone.  If I step more than 30 feet from my phone, my watch vibrates to let me know I have moved out of range.  This has kept me from leaving the phone on a charger at home or at work dozens of times.
  • Silence the ring or alarm.  So often in a meeting or class, someone's phone starts blaring and everyone looks over in annoyance as the owner fishes through purse or coat to silence the foghorn that is their phone.  Actually, I have all notifications silenced since my watch merely vibrates to notify.  But even if there were a noise coming out of my phone, a quick tap of my watch would silence it.
In addition to all of that, there are apps being added every day that may be of use to you in particular. I use my timer app at work almost everyday.  I have a flashlight app that helps me navigate the house at night.  There are also hundreds of watch faces that will cater to your particular tastes or information needs.
Smartwatches may remain in the niche' market, but may they ever remain.

Monday, February 08, 2016

What To Do With An Old Tablet

If you are like me, you tend to collect old electronics.  You upgrade, and the old item falls out of use.  It still works, but like Woody and Buzz, they end up under the bed or in an old drawer... unused.

This was the case with two old android tablets I owned.  Having upgraded, they sat.  With the market flooded with cheap tablets, it is hardly worth it to try to sell them on Ebay.  Besides, they are both quirky.  One only charges when the power is off and the other has a battery indicator that always says full.

So, I have brought them to my classroom.  My second graders use them for Klotski, chess, and other logic games.  There are also apps where they can practice their grammar and math.

I am guessing that some of you also have unused tablets lying around gathering dust.  If you would like to give them a second life, would you consider sending them to my classroom?  Here they can live out their twilight years with a child.  If I get enough of them, I may start using them for centers.

If you have one that is ready to move on, drop me a line at, and I will send you my school address.  Thanks!

***** You may have noticed my previous page requesting old Palm Pilots.  We have been making good use of those but, honestly, they are a lot of work to maintain.  The older ones are always needing battery swaps, the newer ones don't hold charges very long - plus syncing them is no small chore.  Also, getting apps has been difficult as most links are long dead.  So, I am hoping I can do something similar, but easier, with old tablets.
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