Want a smartwatch or fitness tracker? Wait till the fall

The tea leaves are being read, and the message is clear: maybe you want to hang out for a few months. Wearables are taking the summer off.

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Expertise VR and AR | Gaming | Metaverse technologies | Wearable tech | Tablets Credentials
  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Scott Stein
3 min read
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So far, 2016 has been a lame year for wearable tech. The best watches and fitness bands you can buy right now were, for the most part, released in 2015. That's because you can practically count the number of new and notable wearable things that debuted in the first five months of this year on one hand: The Fitbit Blaze, Fitbit Alta and -- for hardcore runners -- several new GPS watches from Garmin. Maybe interesting to some, but hardly to everyone.

But that's going to change. And all indications point to a flood of stuff coming -- this fall.

So much wearable tech in autumn

Google unveiled its vision of how Android Wear 2.0 will improve smartwatches, adding better fitness tracking, improved ways to respond to messages with handwriting recognition and smart keyboards, and off-watch apps that will work over cellular watch connections. But it's not coming until this fall. And with it, expect a new wave of

Wear watches.

Pebble just announced that its next Pebble 2 and Pebble Time 2 smartwatches will add heart rate on-wrist and, in the case of the Time 2, be more affordable. Heck, there's even the Core coming next year, which isn't even a watch at all. Pebble watches will get a new software update that will add extra features. But for the newest tech, you'll have to wait until September (or November for Time 2).

Apple, meanwhile, hasn't had a new Apple Watch since the debut model hit in April of 2015.(It just got a price cut last month.) It now seems ever more likely that

2 will arrive in the fall also. Alongside the iPhone 7 would make a lot of sense, obviously. Apple will detail the next visions for WatchOS at their WWDC developer conference in a few weeks. We'll know a lot more then.

Samsung's Gear S2 debuted last fall. Odds are an update could be here this fall. Seems like it would make sense, no?

If you get something wearable now, it may or may not be outdated in a few months

It's weird timing to know about so many things coming down the road, right as summer is about to start. Smartwatches and fitness trackers might get grandfathered into updates coming this fall, or could get left out of features you'd want. Some of Google's existing Android Wear watches, like the LG Watch Urbane LTE and Huawei Watch, are safer bets for future-proofing. Pebble's existing Time watches will get upcoming software updates. The existing Apple Watch will likely get new software, too. Fitbit's current trackers, especially the 2016 Blaze and Alta, seem like the best get-now bets.

But if I were considering buying something wearable now, I'd wait. Or I'd get something priced so affordably that I wouldn't mind upgrading again later on...or something I'm fine living with for what it is. Wearable tech is largely a field of imperfect products. Any sort of improvements are probably worth waiting for.

September and onward. It's not that far away, as long as you can deal with whatever's still on your wrist.