Notifications and Apps on Your Wrist
But the Gear's most useful trick really is when it puts your phone's notifications on your wrist. Calendar reminders, emails and text message alerts all appear on the screen when the watch is within range of the phone. More than a few times the watch vibrated and reminded me to go to an appointment and kept me from checking my phone for a new email.
Notifications are limited, though. For instance, I couldn't figure out how to get alerts for Gmail message and there is no Twitter or Facebook support at the moment. You still are stuck picking up your phone too many times to see details and important alerts.
But as Samsung works with app developers that should change. There are already a decent number of apps, including fitness apps such as Runtastic and Runkeeper. Others, such as Vivino, which lets you take a photo of a wine label and get more information, are fun to play with.
It turns out that the Galaxy Gear isn't a very smart watch. Sure, it might do more than the watch you are wearing right now -- at least on paper -- but your everyday watch can tell time faster than the Gear, and is certainly more comfortable and attractive. And while the Gear does put some smartphone functionality on your wrist, it still requires you to grab your phone quite a bit, whether it is for installing apps or checking for more information about certain notifications. And that's all assuming you can keep it on for long enough, given the comfort and battery life hurdles.
This is Not the Next Big Thing
For $300, the Gear is very clearly a first generation product in need of refinement and added compatibility. Wearable computing might be the Next Big Thing, as the ads say, but the Galaxy Gear is not the next big thing for you.