How do Smartwatches Really Work?

What is a Smartwatch by Today’s Standards?

We’ve all heard of a smartwatch, and many of us own or have owned one, but oftentimes we are left wondering what is a smartwatch and how does a smartwatch work?

In short, a smartwatch is a watch that you wear on your wrist like a traditional watch, but it is made smart because it houses a computer inside.

Most smartwatches have a touchscreen and provide access to apps for you to use in your daily life. 

Each smartwatch has an operating system and will link directly to your mobile device so that you can use it to keep in touch with the world.

The most used operating systems include Apple and Wear OS; Apple’s is solely for Apple devices, whereas Wear OS provides its system for other models of phones and watches.

Every smartwatch comes with a wide range of functions that each user can personalize to their life. If you are sporty, you can use it for activity tracking.

If you are a social butterfly, you can use it to stay in touch with your social media accounts. If you love music, you can play it. The list is seemingly endless but allows a person to use their smartwatch the way that suits their lifestyle.

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As with any electronic product, there has been a huge surge in the market, and there is now a significant catalog of smartwatches available to the public.

This variety allows people to get the smartwatch that really suits what they are trying to achieve in life and has become an expression of self.

There has been a lot of comparisons between smartwatches and phones to pocket watches and clocks. One serves as an accessory for the other and allows you easier access to the information you need when you are out and about.

What Does a Smartwatch Do?

So, you know what one is, but do you know what it does? Every smartwatch that is released onto the market claims to be unique, but the reality is that most smartwatches follow a simple format to make them appealing to a wide audience. 

As the demand grows for smartwatches, there is more pressure on suppliers to ramp up what they offer. There is a huge range to choose from, but they all offer a common number of smartwatch features:


Every smartwatch offers its own system of notifications that will keep you in touch with the world. You can choose to be alerted for social media, email, calls, or texts and even be alerted by news channels when something important is happening in the world.

Smart Clocks

Not only does your smartwatch tell the time, but it can also offer you other clock features such as alarm clocks and stopwatches. If you hate getting up in the morning, then your smartwatch can gently wake you with sound or vibration, so you are never late again.

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If you want to time your PBs, then the stopwatch feature will help you to do this as well. Many smartwatches even offer different time zone faces, so you know what time it is across the world.

Health & Wellbeing

Because there are so many smartwatch uses, you can expect yours to offer health and wellbeing apps that will allow you to track your emotions and exercises throughout the day.

All smartwatches offer the basics like step counting, but many now also offer more complex fitness and wellbeing services to help you keep on top of your health at all times.


If you cannot bear to go out without a picture of your favorite pet or kids, then many smartwatches offer the feature to carry photos with you.

In fact, some smartwatches even let you use these photos as the background to your clock face so that you will never need to be without that happy memento of your loved ones.


Lots of smartwatches come with the capability to play games or join in competitions with other smartwatch users.

Whilst most will also need you to access your phone for the full effect, and there are games that have been designed for smartwatches as well as fun apps that make tracking things more fun.


There is nothing worse than being caught in the rain without a jacket, and smartwatches can now help with this too!

The majority of smartwatches offer a weather feature so that you know what to expect when you step outside the door each day.

The forecasts can even be displayed on the screen if you like a play by play of what is going to happen each day.

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Voice Searching

Smartwatches tend to come with a virtual assistant that can search for things, share information, and even keep you safe if you take a fall.

We have all become more accustomed to voice searching, and smartwatches are no different from your smart home hubs.

The Evolution of the Smartwatch

When you ask the question, ‘how do smartwatches work?’ you also need to consider where they have come from.

The first smartwatches aren’t what we use today, and they are evolving at such a fast pace that it is good to remember where they have come from to allow us to work out where they are going.

The first smartwatch was not made by Apple, although most of us believe that is where they came from.

In fact, the concept of smartwatches has been around for over fifteen years, and IBM was the first to submit the idea with its Watchpad 1.5.

This model never made it to the shelves, but it did have fingerprint software along with a calendar and touch screen. Check it out in the video below.

It wasn’t until 2002 when Fossil released their Fossil Wrist PDA that people really started talking about having a watch with the features that we would refer to as smart.

It was popular for a short time before the idea was stalled once more until Microsoft got on board in 2006. 

Microsoft, Sony, and Samsung all released their first smartwatches between 2006 and 2009, with Samsung being the preferred provider, but still, the market was niche, targeting people who needed help with organization and calendars.

Then in 2014, Apple launched its first smartwatch, and the market erupted. People all over the world wanted to be part of the latest Apple craze, and the smartwatch garnered serious attention from a wide range of audiences.

People could now use their watches with apps, to get fit, and to organize themselves.

With each new Apple smartwatch that has been released since we have seen even more smartwatches being brought to the market.

Companies like Fitbit, SUUNTO, Withings, Garmin, and more have all developed their own brand of smartwatches, and the demand shows no sign of abating.

The growth of smartwatches is set to increase by 28.6% in 2020 alone, and whilst Apple holds nearly 50% of the smartwatch market, it’s no shock that other companies are still springing into life with new features and designs.

Smartwatches in 2020

With the birth of 2020, we are excited to see where smartwatches will take us, how smartwatch connectivity will evolve and who will be the leader of smartwatch sales.

Smartwatches today provide a core of features that we all have come to expect, but each of these just seems to get better with every new release.

At the core of any modern smartwatch is the ability to take phone calls, play music, use a camera, and track your heart health and fitness. Each smartwatch offers this is a slightly different way, but this core is what is necessary in order to convince people to purchase. 

Take Phone Calls

When smartwatches first went crazy in the shops, you would be onto a good thing if it notified you of an incoming call on your mobile. Now people expect to be able to answer their calls on their watch and converse as well as if they were holding their phone.

Smartwatches are designed to help you access your info quickly and easily, and now they offer the opportunity to answer calls if you aren’t near your phone but also don’t want to miss a call.

The call quality has improved so much over the past couple of years that it is now possible to have a full conversation on the more expensive smartwatches without needing to transfer it to your phone, but work still needs to be done to improve this if people want to be able to leave their phones at home more frequently.

Play Music

A significant proportion of people like to use their smartwatches on the go, and the ability to play music through it has become a non-negotiable element.

Music providers such as Alexa, Spotify, and Apple Music all have streaming plans that can be used on a smartwatch and mean that your favorite tunes are just a tap away.

Smartwatches are easily paired with wireless headphones so that you can listen to anything you like in the gym or as you work. This feature is more than a want, and it’s an absolute necessity for anyone that wants to use their smartwatch throughout the day without having to take their phone out too.


For those of us who no longer own a camera because we use our phones to take every picture, then a smartwatch can come in really handy. While it isn’t a camera on its own, you can use it as a clicker and a frame setting tool. 

The idea is that you get your frame set up, check it, and then use the watch button to snap the shot. This is brilliant if you want to get a group shot with you in it or if you want to move around the frame, moving items and people to get the best shot.

Lots of people also admit to using this feature to help find their phone when they misplace it as the camera will give you a clue to where your phone is located!

Heart Rate Monitors

When people ask, ‘what do smartwatches do?’ it’s becoming more common to point out that it offers a heart rate monitor. This facet is still relatively new to smartwatch owners, and the tech employed in installing it has evolved significantly.

We are now used to knowing what our heart rate is and whether it is healthy or not, but the newest smartwatch models can even be programmed to run ECGs and other heart tracking features.

Smartwatches will tell you when you are the fat burn zone, what your heart rate was when you were asleep, and you can even use the integrated mindfulness apps to reduce where it sits at a stressful moment in your day.

Ultimately, smartwatch makers have realized the significance of heart health within today’s society and want to provide their users with a simple way of tracking where their heart is all day long. It’s a great feature, and we can’t wait to see where tech advancements will take it!

Fitness Tracking

This is one of the most significant areas that people look for when choosing a smartwatch, as having a range of fitness tracking features will allow you to monitor your performance as well as your progress.

The fitness features typically pair with an app that houses all your detailed histories so that you can undertake your workout and then review it on your phone when you are able to.

Most of the current smartwatches can track over 70 different sports for accuracy, and the most popular sports for tracking are running, cycling, and swimming.

However, be certain to purchase a smartwatch that is water-resistant so that you don’t end up breaking your new tech before you’ve even started. If you are a recreational swimmer, then a watch that is water-resistant to 50m will be wholly sufficient.

Smartwatches will count steps, track distance covered, and be able to give you feedback on how your body was responding at each stage of your exercise.

They are the perfect way to track your personal bests and will help you customize a program to suit your requirements. Fitness tracking is in demand, and that means that smartwatch makers are offering new and innovative ways to track your fitness with each new release.

It’s clear to see why these are the core five aspects of any decent smartwatch and a great way to monitor if a smartwatch is a great choice for you or not is to make sure you like the interface on each of these points.

If, for example, you struggle to make a call, then the watch is probably not the one for you. Try all the features in store before you settle on the one you find easiest to use rather than buying a smartwatch because of its brand name.

Will a Smartwatch Ever Replace My Smartphone? 

There is a school of thought that suggests smartwatches may become so sophisticated that they eventually replace mobile phones, but this notion is widely regarded as unrealistic.

There are many reasons that a smartwatch cannot replace a phone, and this includes the fact that the screen size is not big enough to replace a phone screen, nor can it get bigger to do this as people do not want cumbersome smartwatches. 

Another obvious reason for smartwatches not being able to replace phones is that there are not any standalone games that can offer the same complexity and interest that a mobile game can. You can get game add-ons or game-like apps that help you to track your day, but there are currently no full games that can run on a smartwatch.

If you think about the amount of tech that it takes to successfully run a smartphone, then it becomes clear that no matter how good a smartwatch is, it doesn’t offer the same user interface and capabilities.

People demand a lot from their smartphones, but smartwatches cannot produce the same level of use and so will be unable to replace a smartphone.

Battery power is another big block to smartwatches replacing smartphones. If you use your smartwatch every day, then you will be used to charging it every night. If you have a watch that charges less frequently, then it is more likely to offer fewer features.

GPS is a big deal for smartwatch users, and we are all aware that it significantly drains battery life. Until this can be resolved, there is no way a smartwatch can replace a smartphone. 

Ultimately, the barriers in the way are too much for smartwatches at this point in time, and rather than people looking to replace their smartphone use, it is more advisable to consider how your smartwatch can improve your experience.

Smartwatches are a great way to track your health and wellbeing as well as providing entertainment and connectivity. As more models hit the market, we are sure to enjoy new and exciting features; a reality that helps to make sense of the global desire to adorn your wrist with one.

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