Smartwatches usually treat notifications with blunt-force indiscretion. It's an all or nothing affair. You either turn off notifications entirely, letting your wrist wear go quiet, or you leave notifications on, and let the watch respond to all incoming signals with a buzz or a chime.
The first option defeats everything we want in a smartwatch — these gadgets are supposed to save us the trouble of checking our phones for critical communiques. But the second option is annoying — once those emails, text messages, and call notifications pile on in rapid succession, you want to throw your watch down the sewer.
But perhaps help is on the way. A company called reQall has just ported its reqallable smartphone app to Sony's Smartwatch platform, promising algorithmic relief for notifications overload. Available now on Google Play, the app hooks directly into your calendar, contacts list and even geolocation to determine where you are, what you're doing, and who's important to you — and then it decides whether to elevate that next notification to something you need to know about right now.
If you've ever suffered the pain and embarrassment of an overactive smartwatch, you can see reqallable's utility. But one of the things that's most noteworthy about reqallable's Friday app launch is that it's a smartwatch app launch. You know the developer community is taking these gadgets seriously when someone makes a big to-do about a piece of software that only works on a device that, quite frankly, very few people use.
"Wearables are an important market to be in," says Sunil Vemuri, reQall co-founder and chief product officer. "People are asking, What are we going to use smartwatches for?' and we think we have an answer for that. This is the beginning of a story, and we want to be part of that beginning."
Just how important are you?
For reqallable to work, you have to let it penetrate the nooks and crannies of all the personal information you store on your handset. But once you grant those permissions, the system becomes aware of your personal relationships and daily activities to make its decisions on which notifications you receive on your watch, and which notifications it keeps quietly confined on your phone.
The concept of a person's "importance" is key to reqallable's logic. For example, if your husband or wife sends you an email or text, that communication will pass reqallable's threshold, and you'll get a notification on your smartwatch. Why? Because the system might have seen you flag your spouse as a favorite in your contact's list. Or because it recognizes you email each other all the time. Or even because you share the same street address.
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