The latest smartwatches do more than track your activity and let you answer calls and texts on your wrist; they can monitor your heart rate, remind you to wash your hands, detect signs of atrial fibrillation and alert you to incoming emails. They can even help you find your lost phone and make sure your kids are safe during field trips or sleepovers.
Smartwatches are available in a wide array of designs and price points, from basic, low-cost models to luxury offerings from brands like Rolex and TAG Heuer. Many offer designs inspired by traditional watches, including leather and stainless steel bands for a sophisticated look. Others have flexible and durable silicone straps that are suitable for a variety of occasions. Some also feature touchscreen displays that are easy to navigate using fingers or a digital stylus.
One of the most important features is that smartwatches simplify your phone usage by displaying notifications—calls, messages, social media posts, reminders and alarms—on your watch’s screen. This can be particularly useful if you don’t want to pull out your phone when you are at work or in a place where a loud buzzing might disturb others.
You can also use apps on a smartwatch to keep in touch with family and friends through video chat, messaging or email. Some have voice assistants that let you make calls, send text messages and search online without needing to use your smartphone. Many models have GPS, which is useful for tracking your route during a run or bike ride, though it can drain the battery. Some have a compass and maps to help with navigation during travel.
For those who want to go deeper into their health, the latest Apple and Samsung watches have FDA-approved ECG and SpO2 sensors for atrial fibrillation detection. They can also measure body temperature, read blood oxygen levels and help you identify problems with your breathing through regular self-tests.
Most smartwatches pair with your smartphone via Bluetooth and work with the same operating systems. However, you should check whether a particular model is compatible with your phone before buying, as some only work with iPhones and others only work with Android phones.
Smartwatches with built-in LTE have the added benefit of letting you make and receive phone calls without your phone nearby or on you. Some such models come with a dedicated data plan, which can cost up to $10 per month depending on your wireless provider and how much you use.
Some smartwatches can help you locate your phone or keys when they’re misplaced, and some have a locator function that can play a tune or light up the display to help you find them. Other models have special features for parents, such as a child-safe screen and a 20-second countdown timer that can remind children to wash their hands. There are also options for tracking the locations of your children on a map, which can be helpful in the event of an emergency.
Milena Estêvão is a YouTuber passionate about sharing her experiences (challenges, successes and motivations) in the fitness activities she is involved in.
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