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Wearable devices will reach a point later this year where they are “fully independent” — that is, not dependent on a smartphone — according to AT&T’s head of emerging devices Glenn Lurie, speaking at the MobileBeat conference in San Francisco today (#MobileBeat).

AT&T says the key to the wearables market taking off is having products that are simple to use and don’t rely on a cellphone for Internet connectivity. Today most smartwatches require a nearby smartphone, inter-connecting via Bluetooth.

Wearable devices with cellular connections that are not tied to smartphones will hit the market later this year, according to Glenn Lurie, president of emerging devices at AT&T Mobility.

“It’s going to happen in healthcare,” he said. “It’s going to happen in wellness and it’s going to be terrific.”

Smartwatches are allegedly the next big thing, but so far they look like the tech industry’s largest beta program, says Larry Dignan at ZDNet.

“Beyond fitness tracking—which smartwatches largely struggle with relative to dedicated activity trackers—it’s hard to find much of a use case. Battery life for Samsung’s latest is a joke. Some of the screens are hard to see in the sun. And while notifications are handy in most cases you’re directed to your smartphone to do much with them.

The stage is largely set. Apple has to save the day. No pressure. Otherwise, smartwatches will have such bad word of mouth that the category is doomed.”

Android Wear and Android Wear Apps now support the new wearables which include a variety of watches by Samsung Gear Live, the LG “G” Watch and Motorola’s Moto 360, as well as dedicated fitness devices.

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