Motorola's long-awaited foray into the smartwatch arena is now official with the release of the Moto 360. The Android Wear device features a 1.65-inch circular display that's covered in Gorilla Glass, making it resistant to scratches and shattering. The watch is also water-resistant. Other features include all-day battery life, built-in pedometer, optical heart rate monitor, and a leather watch band (Motorola plans to release metal bands later this fall.) Users can charge the device wirelessly with the included charging cradle.
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.
Samsung is the first major company to release a smartwatch, revealing the Galaxy Gear during today's Unpacked event. The rumor mill was quite a ways off from what was presented today. The Gear sports a 1.63-inch 320 x 320 Super AMOLED display, with a 1.9-megapixel BSI auto-focus camera on the outside wrist strap (used to capture low-resolution images and 10-second video clips at 720p,) and a speaker on the inner wrist strap.
Galaxy Gear is also a platform unto itself, and it will have 70 apps on deck for launch, including familiar names like RunKeeper, Path, Evernote, TripIt, MyFitnessPal, eBay, and many others. That sounds great, but the device will ship with limited smartphone and tablet compatibility, working with only the Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Note 10.1 at launch, although Galaxy S 4 and Galaxy S III integration will be coming in October. With a compatible device, the Galaxy Gear will be your companion, allowing you access to Find My Device, S Voice, pedometer, call answering, and more.
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
Since we’re on the topic of watches today, let's talk about the Sony SmartWatch. Powered by Android, the Sony SmartWatch does more than just tell time. The SmartWatch features a 1.3-inch OLED 128 x 128 display, and is 0.3-inches thin. The SmartWatch will allow users to connect the watch to Android devices, thereby allowing them to read texts, tweets, and also use various apps and widgets found on Google Play. The battery life is somewhere around the three to four day mark (depending on use) and has a standby lifespan of 14 days per charge. The SmartWatch features interchangeable straps, so you can color coordinate it to your liking. Expect to pay $150 USD for this one.
Read More | Sony