A smartwatch is a portable device that's designed to be worn on a wrist. Smartwatches — like smartphones — use touchscreens, offer apps, and often record your heart rate and other vital signs.
The Apple Watch and Wear OS (formerly Android Wear) models prompted more consumers to appreciate the usefulness of wearing a mini computer on their wrists. In addition, specialty smartwatches for outdoor activities often supplement other, bulkier devices in an adventurer's tool kit.
Short History of the Smartwatch
While digital watches have been around for decades — some with abilities like calculators and unit converters — only in the 2010s did tech companies begin releasing watches with smartphone-like abilities.
Apple, Samsung, Sony, and other major players offer smartwatches on the consumer market, but a small startup actually deserves credit for popularizing the modern-day smartwatch. When Pebble announced its first smartwatch in 2013, it raised a record amount of funding on Kickstarter and went on to sell more than 1 million units.
At the same time, advances in silicon miniaturization opened the door to other kinds of dedicated-purpose smartwatches. Companies like Garmin, for example, support smartwatches like the Fenix, which are more rugged and are optimized with sensors and trackers to support back-country expeditions. Likewise, companies like Suunto released smartwatches optimized for scuba diving that withstand extended time at significant depths.