Seven epic Apple Watch and Android Wear features coming soon

Pre-release images suggest the Apple Watch will have a "torch", but this is a big step above that. However, before you get too excited, it's not going to project a little hologram of your housemate asking you to buy milk, like Princess Leia on downtime. Instead, it fires a watch-like display across your wrist and hand.

In the demo photos we've seen to date, this has mostly involved projecting the time, but there are plans to embed fitness tracking too, showing your heart rate perhaps, or motivating messages such as, "run faster, fatty," if you don't keep up the pace.

Notifications and social updates are on the cards too: you could literally be wearing your whole digital life on your sleeve in no time.

The Ritot is a crowdfunded project that totally destroyed its funding target back in September 2014 – it asked for $50,000; it came away with $1.4 million.

The future for smartwatches or a silly gimmick? Well, the Ritot isn't doing any favours for itself, with its claims of 20 different projection colours and being "ABSOLUTELY SAFE", giving it the vibe of something you might pick up down the market. Still, plenty of people are buying into the idea.


Pay for everything

Is the mobile payments revolution finally about to take off? We've been waiting long enough for it.

When NFC first popped into phones back in 2010 with Android mobiles such as the Gear S, we thought, "well this seems like the future." But here we are, actually in the future, and it's barely gained traction.

That could be about to change with the arrival of Apple Watch and Apple Pay, which lets you essentially use an iPhone or Apple Watch like the contactless part of your credit/debit card.

This makes even more sense for a watch than a phone as the watch is always just there on your wrist, gagging to be swiped. Apple Pay's rolled out in the US already, with the UK to follow this year.

Rival services including Google Wallet and Plaso the lower-tech CurrentC system favoured by big US retailers will also be battling for share of this potentially very lucrative space.


Travel without a travel card

One other great possibility for NFC-enabled smart watches is already in place on phones, with the EE Cash app already letting you pay for tube and train travel in London.

The infrastructure is already there, right in the Oyster readers found at stations, with boring old contactless bank cards driving the wireless payments revolution so far.

Contactless cards can do already what we expect to see smartwatches doing a bit further down the line, without the irritation of having to fish your card out of your wallet as you battle through a rush-hour human tide.


Colour screens without daily charging

One big issue many users and potential users have with smartwatches, is that some of them don't even last as long as our phones. The Pebble lasts a week, but if you want a nice, colourful screen, you'll need to charge at least daily with most of the available smartwatches, and more than likely Apple's effort too.

However, Sharp may have a (sort of) solution. In November 2014, it showed off a new smartwatch screen technology that it claims is 1,000 times more efficient than that of current colour LCDs.

However, it can only display eight colours rather than the millions an LG G Watch R has at its disposal. Still, that's seven more than the Pebble can currently show, and it would work great in any forthcoming, next-gen Pebble watch (Sharp already makes the e-ink one in the Pebble Steel)…

The Qualcomm Toq already offers a low-power colour Mirasol display, but that watch was flushed down the tech toilet into obscurity before it was even properly released. Sharp's new LCD-based tech has a real chance of longevity, and not just in battery life terms. While you might not think of Sharp as a big name anymore – especially if you're in Europe which it's all but abandoned – it created the LTPS tech used in the iPhone 6 screen.

Heart to heart

Let your loved ones know you're thinking of them…

…And are not dead. Want to be a little bit sick in your mouth? A feature of Apple's Watch – and apparently some at Apple consider it a key feature – is that you can send little vibratey signals between Watches to let your nearest and dearest know you're thinking about them. You can even send your heartrate reading to let them know you're still alive. Or just to show off how impressively low your resting heart rate.

Much more fun, and a good source for mischief, is being able to send doodles to other Watch owners. Again, this will come inbuilt from day one. We'll give you three guesses as to what our first doodle will be.

Android Wear currently doesn't offer this sort of surface-level interpersonal fun, but when the world goes wild for it, ahem, you can expect to see similar takes on the idea sprout up everywhere among smartwatches and their apps. Location-aware doodle dating must be on the cards.

Andrew Williams

Andrew is a freelance journalist and has been writing and editing for some of the UK's top tech and lifestyle publications including TrustedReviews, Stuff, T3, TechRadar, Lifehacker and others.