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.
Industry sources are aligning, and it appears that Apple is prepping to release its first wearable watch (which many are referring to as the iWatch) this October. According to Re/code and Nikkei, Apple is planning a special event to debut and show off all the features of the new device in October--by our own estimation, this would be a month after the iPhone 6 and iOS 8 launch, and could be within the same timeframe that Apple launches the new Touch ID-enabled iPads.
People familiar with Apple's plans tell Re/Code the company hopes to schedule a special event that month to show off the device, which is designed to make good use of the HealthKit health and fitness information-gathering app it recently showed off at WWDC. Could things change between now and fall? That's certainly possible. But right now October is the target date.
We've been hearing about the rumored fall release of the iWatch for months, while simultaneously also hearing that it might be pushed back to 2015. Now that more reliable sources are in on the reports, it looks like things are coming together. Nikkei is also reporting that the device will sport a curved OLED touchscreen display, and will heavily focused on integrating with the new Health app in iOS 8, tracking things like calories burned, sleep activity, blood oxygen levels, and other fitness-related data.
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.
We give you a look at the Pebble smart watch - it shows you your notifications from your smartphone, right on your wrist right on its e-ink display, and is compatible with both iOS and Android. Here are some specs:
- Load apps using Bluetooth
- 144 x 168 pixel display black and white e-paper
- Bluetooth 2.1+ EDR and 4.0 (Low Energy)
- 4 buttons
- Vibrating motor
- 3 axis accelerometer with gesture detection
You can also control apps and music as well, again, all over Bluetooth. I waited a long time for this to arrive, mostly because I had to wait for the orange version to get manufactured and show up. If you wanna get your hands on one, you can get the Pebble watch from Best Buy.
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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
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
Most digital watches are tacky, and some analog watches are difficult to read. However, the The Qlocktwo W by German studio Biegert & Funk offers up a stylish and intelligent solution. The watch spells out time by displaying it in five-minute intervals (i.e. it’s five past three.) In order to compensate for the minutes in between dots appear at the bottom of the watch until a new five-minute interval accrues.
You might have seen this design in a wall clock B&F produced, which sells for about $1,100. The wristwatch won't be much of a deal either, as it's set to sell for around $700 USD. If you’re ready to pick this watch up, you’ll have to wait. There’s no set release date yet, however you can sign up for updates on the studio's site.
Anyone who knows me know that I love anything pink. Throw some rhinestones in, and that's the icing on the cake. That's why it was love at first sight when I noticed the Phosphor Appear watch on the wrist of a stranger at CES. Seriously, a watch that uses Swarovski crystals to display the time? After seeing it in action, we put it to the test. I've had the Phosphor Appear for a couple of weeks now. Is the watch as good as I first thought? Read on for our full review.
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