Yes, it’s true—Microsoft is about to get into the smartwatch game, and I got the opportunity to play with it. As we'd previously reported, Microsoft has filed a patent that details a smartwatch. However, often these patent filings aren’t exactly what we see companies end up releasing. So, let’s separate the cruft and get to the meat of the matter. A number of months ago I took a trip to New York where I came across someone who was testing the upcoming Microsoft wearable device. I saw it on their wrist and asked about it. They tried to explain that it was a random fitness wristband ordered from China at first, but eventually (with some prodding) gave me the scoop. Here is your exclusive first look at what Microsoft is planning for its first wearable smart device, what we are referring to as the Surface Watch:
- As far as looks, the image above is a parody, but not far off. It has an elongated form factor, but isn't as comically large as what's in the image. It is much more akin to something like the Fitbit One or Samsung Galaxy Gear Fit in shape rather than taking on the shape of a traditional watch, like Pebble did, or like what Google showed off with Android Wear. What we saw had a flat display, while the inner portion that would rest against your skin was curved.
- The icons are the flat style that Microsoft has been using on its other devices like Windows 8, Windows Phone, and Xbox One. That's what tipped me off in the first place.
- Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy is how it interacts with the rest of the world
- The flat glass display, and was definitely not high resolution. We hope that both of these change in the final product--a high-resolution curved display already exists on the Samsung Gear Fit, and the Microsoft device just didn't look as good.
- The watch is packed with sensors. It has a heart rate monitor, accelerometer, gyroscope, GPS, and most interestingly, a galvanic skin response sensor all built-in. The galvanic skin response sensor is built into the watch band, while everything else is built into the unit itself.
With the smartphone being a huge success, companies like Samsung and Sony got the idea to make it smaller and wrist mounted, creating the Galaxy Gear and Sony Smartwatch lines respectively. Now Microsoft has decided to muscle into the game, registering its patents with the U.S. Government this week.
The application filed with the patent office describes the wearable as a music player, phone, message device, and fitness measuring device. The watchface would be detachable from the wristband so that it can be connected to a charging port.
The features described are still speculation, and no date has been stated for release. Microsoft is up against competition from Samsung, who released their product last year, Motorola, which plans to release the Moto 360 in July, and Pebble, which has already sold over 400,000 units.
The Pebble Smart Watch was a Kickstarter sensation that is still struggling to fulfill the orders of its initial backers, but that's not stopping the device from launching in Best Buy in just a few days. Initially you'll be able to get the e-ink display-powered Pebble in Jet Black at Best Buy while the company works to get the other colors into the hands of those who pre-ordered the device. Once those are fulfilled, you can expect to see other colors hit Best Buy as well. In fact, the Cherry Red model will hit store shelves in August.
Now is the time for the Pebble Smart Watch to try and get some attention on a larger stage, and Best Buy may be the place to do that. If you're unfamiliar, the Pebble connects to your iPhone or Android device and allows you to interact with it from your wrist. I have one, and it's convenient to see my messages, texts, and notifications pop-up on the Pebble without having to check my phone. I can also control apps like Music and Runkeeper right from my wrist as well. With Apple and Google expected to announce smart watches of their own sometime soon, some might argue that time is running out for Pebble to make an impact and fain traction. The Best Buy deal should help. You'll be able to order the Pebble from Best Buy for $149.95.
Read More | Pebble Best Buy Page
It is highly speculated that 2013 is the year that Apple's Tim Cook, or Phil Schiller, will walk on stage at an Apple event rocking something special under his sleeve. Something that you quite possibly couldn't live without. An iWatch.
Rumors are at an all-time high as speculation that Apple is getting serious about getting into the nascent smart wristwatch game, taking on the likes of upstart Cookoo watch and the KickStarter funded Pebble smart watch. Many agree that smart wearable computing is the way of the future. For instance, companies have given their take on wearable computers like, Nike's FuelBand, Jawbone's Up, Fitbit's activity trackers and, most recently, Google Glass. Perhaps, Apple can make them all obsolete with the iWatch. Bloomberg has written a fairly ridiculous essay as to why it might be more lucrative and, more likely, in Apple's best interest to ship an iWatch first rather than an iTV television set.
Allerta, the group behind the Pebble Bluetooth watch that became an overnight Kickstarter sensation, has announced that due to overwhelming demand, the watch will be compatible with Bluetooth 4.0. If you scour the comments on the Pebble Kickstarter page, you'll notice Bluetooth 4.0 requests by the plenty. We figured it was just too late in the game to switch around the design of a watch that's slated to ship so soon, but the company says that Bluetooth 4.0 inclusion was on the list for a while, and therefore, the decision won't affect the ship date at all. That said, when the Pebble watch does ship, it'll be Bluetooth 2.1 out of the gate, with the Bluetooth 4.0 module being activated later through a software update that'll be available to all.
Read More | Pebble