Can Wearables Right Smartphones’ Wrongs?

Can Wearables Right Smartphones' Wrongs?Apple and Google are telling consumers to buy their wearables so they can stop having to deal with their distracting mobile phones. At least, that’s what Chris O’Brien says those companies are saying, in an article for VentureBeat.

O’Brien cites two main examples. The first is a TED talk by Sergey Brin, one of Google’s cofounders. His talk was on Google Glass, the visor-like wearable device, and in explaining why the company developed it he pointed out the distorting social effects of the mobile phone – having to check it constantly, hunched over and staring at a small screen. He also suggests it just doesn’t look cool, asking, “is this what you’re meant to do with your body?”

The other example is an interview with Apple’s VP of technology, Kevin Lynch, who told Wired magazine that the Apple Watch was developed as a mobile device “that’s a little more human, a little more in the moment”. He also said, “People are carrying their phones with them and looking at the screen so much.”

Both of these examples come across as highly hypocritical, of course, since both companies have been major pioneers and leaders in the smartphone industry.

But let’s be clear: These are two people in situations in which they’re talking to some extent off-the-cuff. They don’t represent official, concerted marketing efforts, and they both very much want to keep selling mobile phones – Google, because its Google Glass has so far proven to be a flop in the mass market and the company will want to keep revenue coming in from its Android devices; and Apple, because its iPhones remain its bread and butter, and you will actually need an iPhone in order to use the Apple Watch. That having been said, O’Brien’s calling out of these two executives does point to the very real issue – already observed countless times in comedy routines – that smartphones have distorted social interaction in everyday life. And wearables are going to be promoted – to some extent, right or wrong – as offering solutions to these issues.