#Trending: The death of charging

Those ugly cradles and cables are gonna get got
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Boy we hate charging wearable tech. We hate it more than charging our smartphone, charging our tablet, even charging our toothbrush. We'd rather spend eternity listening to Charley in accounts droning on about how they wish it was Friday than perform another forensic search of the house to find another bespoke wearable charging cable.

It's a problem.

So what is wearable tech doing about it? In 2014, we had genuine nightmares of drowning in a ballpool, only it wasn't a ballpool at all, it was a sea of ugly smartwatch charging cradles and there was no way out. That was then, this is now. The Sony SmartWatch 3 was real casual about its hidden microUSB port but we almost leapt up and kissed Kazuo Hirai when the feature was mentioned, such was our relief.

Essential reading: The best Android Wear watch you can buy

Aside from Android Wear, many of the more promising wearables of 2015 are stripping things back to the point where six month battery lives are possible – the Withings Activité Pop for one – or even a year and beyond for low power E Ink bracelets such as the LookSee and Tago Arc, which actually draws power via NFC from your smartphone. Smart.

The great thing about these devices is that they give us choice. You can have the bells and whistles with nightly charging or core features and not a charging cradle in sight.

Elsewhere, Intel is ON IT with its tiny, low power Curie module. Swatch is ON IT with its upcoming smartwatch that won't need charging (we can only assume that means a swappable battery) and even luxury brand Christophe & Co is ON IT with the rself-charging Armill mens bracelet.

Read more: The best smart jewellery

In 2015 we'd love to see long-range wireless charging throughout the house – a sort of electric Wi-Fi, if you will. uBeam, which is looking to do just that using ultrasound, nabbed $10m of investment in 2014. Here's hoping we see the results in the next twelve months.

The death of charging can't come soon enough.

WEAR - Misfit Swarovski Shine


This might be too blingy for some but you've got to credit Misfit's ingenuity with the Swarovski Shine. Not only does its latest tracker look like any other piece of sparkly jewellery, the central crystal in the purple version hides some not-so-pretty solar sensors which provide the Swarovski Shine with its power.

It doesn't even need real sun, this tracker will recharge in even a well-lit room: just ten minutes should get you a day's use meaning that unless you spend your time in moodily lit flats and offices, you'll never have to worry about charging your wearable again.

Read more: Hands on with the 'energy crystal'

SQUARE - Android Wear


Android Wear isn't in a good place right now, just leave it alone. Manufacturers only sold 720,000 Android Wear watches in the last six months of 2014 and battery concerns are apparently mostly to blame. HTC's new upcoming wearable, expected at MWC 2015, looks set to shun the wearable OS too, perhaps to stretch out its stamina.

One of our favourite smartwatches from 2014, the Moto 360, got almost everything else right apart from the fact that it needed a software update to get it to one day's battery with the always-on screen. Not good enough. But what can Google do?

Tweak the low power mode so we can see the time while saving battery life. Give users control over how many full screen, coloured images we really need. Calm down on the number of Cards that come through every morning. Encourage wireless charging docks like Motorola's rather than cradles used by the Asus ZenWatch. Just a few suggestions.

Wareable verdict: Long term Android Wear review

NEARLY THERE - Withings Activité Pop


The question really boils down to LCD screen or no LCD screen. The Withings says no. Instead the Pop chooses to display the time the old fashioned way and leave all the fitness stats in its app with just a 0-100 dial to show your progress in one area, step count for instance.

This is a basic tracker, not one for true sports buffs, but the combination of its trendy looks, tech smarts and six month battery life (just swap the coin cell out twice a year) make it a cut above the usual in wearable tech.

Read more: Withings Activité Pop review

How we test


Sophie was Wareable's associate editor. She joined the team from Stuff magazine where she was an in-house reviewer. For three and a half years, she tested every smartphone, tablet, and robot vacuum that mattered. 

A fan of thoughtful design, innovative apps, and that Spike Jonze film, she is currently wondering how many fitness tracker reviews it will take to get her fit. Current bet: 19.

Sophie has also written for a host of sites, including Metro, the Evening Standard, the Times, the Telegraph, Little White Lies, the Press Association and the Debrief.

She now works for Wired.

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