Smartwatch: how it works

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Smartwatch: how it works

| giovedì 03 Maggio 2018 - 21:15

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Smartwatch: how it works

Smartwatch how it work

They gave you a smartwatch and you are now the proud owner of a brand new technological jewel that you can not wait to carry with you on your wrist. You are quite happy with this gift but, after opening your box and wearing it, you have noticed that you still have some doubts related to its operation. You’ve probably already figured out how to navigate through the various menu items, but there are some aspects that are obscure to you; I therefore bet you would like my help to clarify.

It’s so true? Well, I imagined it. I can certainly help you and, for this reason, I want to tell you something immediately. In fact, you must know that many companies in the electronics industry have turned their attention to the production of these smartwatches. These devices are nothing more than “smart” watches, devices that, in addition to marking the time, can also perform those functions that we are now accustomed to doing with our smartphone.

But we must make an important clarification: the smartwatches are not all the same between them. There are many different types to adapt to all needs; the functions can therefore differ between one smartwatch and another. Imagining that you can then have some doubts on how to fully exploit its features, I will talk in this guide of my most common features of these technological gems. I will then give you an overview of the features that can be found in smartwatches, so that you can compare them with those that your own. Always refer to the data sheet of your device to verify that it has the features that I will mention. Without these due premises, are you ready to start discovering in detail how a smartwatch works? Yup? Very well! I wish you a good read.

Smartwatch how it work – Operating system and compatibility with smartphones

Smartwatch how it work

As I have already mentioned, every smartwatch is different from another, not only for the design or for the company that produced it, but also for the operating system that is installed inside it. In this regard, to understand the functioning of a smartwatch, you must first consider the compatibility that it has with your smartphone.

I indicate below the most widespread operating systems on smartwatches; you can thus understand which of these is installed on your.

  • Android Wear is the operating system developed by Google, which aims to be an optimized and adapted version of Android for wearable devices, such as smartwatches. It is a system compatible with Android smartphones from version 4.3 and later and can also be compatible with iPhone, as long as this has a version of iOS updated to 9 or higher. However, with Apple devices it is possible that there is not full compatibility and that some functions are limited. What I advise you to do is to view the co / WearCheck link from your smartphone to see if this is compatible with devices wearable with Android Wear OS.


  • WatchOS is the operating system installed on Apple Watch devices. It is a system that communicates only with iPhone 5s or later devices with iOS 11 or later. Obviously, if you have an iPhone, the best choice is that of an Apple Watch, as the wearable device will guarantee full compatibility of all features.


  • Other operating systems: in the vast world of wearable devices, you can find smartwatches of all price ranges. Some smartwatches have installed a proprietary operating system inside them, different from Android Wear (or its derivative) and WatchOS. In this case, a certain degree of compatibility with Android and iOS smartphones is often guaranteed. Apart from the “low cost” devices, which often mount this kind of systems different from the official ones, Samsung has decided to equip its wearable devices with an operating system different from those just mentioned. In this specific case I’m talking about TizenOS, which has full compatibility with Samsung devices, but has limited functionality with other Android devices or those that mount iOS.

Smartwatch how it work – Display and interaction

Smartwatch how it work

When we talk about smartwatch, one of the key elements is the display: will this be clearly visible outdoors under the sunlight? I answer this question by telling you that the substantial difference that distinguishes a smartwatch and determines its possibilities of use (for example for outdoor use) is the technology used in the display.

A smartwatch with an OLED / AMOLED screen will have deeper blacks and therefore more contrast. The use of this technology in a wearable device means better autonomy and a good view of sunlight. An LCD screen, on the other hand, will be brighter, resulting in less autonomy, but on the other hand will be able to offer better outdoor performance under direct sunlight. But this is a rather generic matter, the yield in the light of the sun will depend on the actual quality of the panel inserted as a display.

At this point, however, we must associate a feature provided on some smartwatch: the always on display, a feature that allows the device’s screen to always remain accessible. This feature could perhaps be useful in particular training sessions, but in general, since the screen is one of the elements of a smartwatch (or smartphone) that causes the greatest consumption, it is advisable to deactivate it, if possible. A smartwatch with this deactivated mode, however, allows the viewing of the display if necessary: ​​just pressing a physical button or a particular movement of the arm (usually the rotation of the forearm).

If you want to optimize the autonomy of your smartwatch, consider also the possibility to activate the energy saving mode. For some devices, the activation of this mode allows to disable most of the “smart” functions; only the basic ones will remain active, such as just displaying the time.

Speaking instead of interaction, it is not to be taken for granted that all smartwatches have a touchscreen display. Some of them in fact allow navigation between the various functions through the rotation of the ring and the combined use with the physical buttons on the sides. There are also devices that have a combined interaction between the two types. A completely different interaction is available in hybrid smartwatches, ie those devices that do not have a display to display information on the screen, but use a hybrid system, that is, the hands that identify some specific types of notifications.

Smartwatch how it work – Hardware and sensor features

Smartwatch how it work

When we talk about smartwatch, we talk about devices that allow the execution and processing of processes that guarantee its operation and that of third-party apps. Inside, in fact, there are electronic components and sensors that often differ from one smartwatch to another and that can be more or less useful for everyday use.

After having talked about the display, it is necessary to give some hints about the processor, the internal memory and the RAM of a smartwatch. When you start using a smartwatch and install apps in it, taking advantage of the storage space in the internal memory, after some time this may start to slow down and put more and more time to start or run processes. All of this depends on the processor power and the amount of its RAM. It is normal, therefore, that if your device does not have enough RAM or does not have a powerful processor, you will have a browsing experience and a relatively slow usability of the content, especially with the installation and execution of many apps. Then put into account also this talk about the type of use you want and that you can make of your smartwatch.

Other features in a smartwatch are the microphone and the speaker, which allow you to answer a call without taking the smartphone. If the smartwatch is also equipped with a SIM / eSIM slot (and therefore also an integrated antenna) allows you to make calls even if it is not connected to the smartphone.

Other important features for a smartwatch are the pedometer, heart rate monitoring and GPS, very useful tools for sports and fitness. These features are essential for those who want a smartwatch that keeps track of training progress. GPS, however, can also be used to start a real-time navigation of a route through its smartwatch, rather than through the smartphone. The use of these features, especially GPS, obviously reduces battery life.

Another fundamental data is the degree of resistance that is certified by the manufacturer of the smartwatch. If no IP certification is indicated, it means that the device can be damaged, both with dust and with water. However, most recent smartwatches are IP67 or IP68 certified. However, we must bear in mind that an IP68 certification is clearly better than the IP67 certification, as it does not present any risk in case a smartwatch is immersed in water. In any case, I suggest you always check the manufacturer’s recommendations on your specific smartwatch, to evaluate if there are any clauses in this regard. For example, if you are practicing water sports, you will need smartwatches that are much more resistant and suitable for this type of activity.

Another important feature is connectivity. It is possible that the smartwatch is equipped with Wi-Fi and NFC, but it will certainly be equipped with Bluetooth, as this is a fundamental requirement to interface with the smartphone.

Smartwatch how it work – Notifications, apps and customizations

Smartwatch how it work

A smartwatch, if connected to the internet or simply to a smartphone, can receive notifications, such as calls received, text messages, emails or notifications from applications such as Facebook, WhatsApp and many others. Usually a vibration of the smartwatch identifies the receipt of a notification, which can be viewed via a swipe on the screen or through the use of physical buttons.

Some apps on smartwatches are like companion apps, ie apps that need to talk to the main one installed on the smartphone, but many others are independent and can run directly from the smartwatch. If you have a smartwatch with Android Wear or WatchOS, you can open the store dedicated to it, so you can download all the apps directly from your smartwatch, without having to go to your smartphone. Smartwatches can also have pre-installed apps for workouts that can be started via special interactions, such as a dedicated button dedicated to them.

As for the aesthetic customizations of the user interface, generically the smartwatches allow ample possibilities for customization. For example, if you have a smartwatch with Android OS, you will be happy to know that it is possible to change the displayed quadrants, so that they can best adapt to the needs and personal uses, through the use of different widgets.

Smartwatch how it work

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