Google is starting the wonderful process of pushing out a new update to one of our most used apps, Hangouts. The Google Hangouts app hasn’t been updated since February when it received v2.0.303. The update that is rolling out this week will bring it to v2.1. A whole number update usually means there will be a lot of goodies inside. A G+ post from Mike Dodd gave a quick highlight of what is new.
- Merged conversations: SMS and Hangout conversations with the same recipient are now combined into a single conversation. You can control whether you want to send a message via Hangouts or SMS with the flip of a switch, and different message types will be easy to tell apart in the conversation. Of course, you can always merge and unmerge conversations if you’d like.
- Simplified contact list: now there’s two main sections in contacts — People you Hangout With, and Phone Contacts — making it simpler to navigate, and easier to use for SMS.
- Homescreen widget: add the Hangouts widget to your homescreen for quick access to your recent conversations.
- Performance improvements: today’s update includes better quality video calls, as well as improved SMS and MMS reliability.
The home screen widget is a 3×3 that can be resized to fit your screen and offers up a list view of your conversations. Tapping on one will open up the hangouts app into that conversation. It is also scrollable.
The merged SMS and Hangouts conversations that allow you to choose how you want to communicate with the recipient is definitely a feature many were really wanting.
I also see a much clearer view of my messages compared to one my friend sends with a color change so that not all text bubbles are the same color.
We will play about a bit more with it and let you know if we catch anything else. If you are super eager to get your hands on the new update, grab the APK from GappsEarly right now.
Sony has just announced the availability and pricing for the new Xperia Tablet Z2 for those of us here in the U.S. Sony first announced the new Xperia Z2 Tablet at Mobile World Congress in February of 2014. Right along side the Xperia Z2 phone. WE are still waiting on the announcement of the phone coming state side. Today, however, Sony has announced that the new 10.1-inch full HD TRILUMINOS display with Live Color LED with X-Reality will make its U.S. debut in stores May 4th and is available for Pre-Sale today.
The Xperia Z2 Tablet packs in a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor clocked to 2.3GHz. It sports 3GB of RAM and a 6,000 mAh battery (rated for 13 hours video playback/1420 hours standby). It packs a 8.1 MP rear camera with a 16x digital zoom and offers a 2.2MP front facing camera as well. If the power packed inside isn’t enough for you, it only weighs 15.49 ounces and measures in at 6.8 x 10.47 x 0.25 inches. Yes, that is just 1/4 inch thick. It is being touted as the worlds slimmest tablet. Perspective wise, the Google nexus 10 is 0.35 inches thick.
The new Xperia Z2 Tablet will come in a two colors, white and black, and be offered in a 16 and 32 GB storage size. The 16GB variant will start off at $499.99 and the 32GB will land for $599.99. Both offer SD card support as well. It will make its debut at select Sony stores on May 4th, but you can pre-order one today through Sony’s online store now with an expected shipping date of May 3rd.
Anyone considering this power house of a tablet?
By now, everyone has probably heard about Google’s Project Ara modular smartphone that should arrive in January 2015.
While there are plenty of people talking about the potential to swap out components such as the display, camera, processor, battery, etc., one concept is making its way around the web that could bring an almost Nintendo DS/3DS gaming experience to the smartphone.
Designer Samuel Herb is sharing a concept he created called Flippypad for Project Ara, a hinged controller that turns the smartphone into “a neat little clamshell gaming device.”
The concept has L and R buttons, a D-Pad, two flat joysticks “and the familiar ABXY diamond.” The hinged component concept also connects into the back of Project Ara to power and integrate it.
This could be the perfect accessory for gamers who want to carry as little with them as possible and allow them to get great gaming experience out of their mobile device as well.
Herb said that if anyone wants to see something like this made, they should try and get the word out, then maybe it will find its way to the right people and he can start developing it for real.
Would you be interested in such an component/accessory? Are you excited for Project Ara?
The post Flippypad, a Project Ara concept gamers could get behind appeared first on AndroidGuys.
Apple is continuing with its plans to introduce a mobile payments service and has began interviewing senior payments industry executives to take on roles within the company, reports Re/code.
Apple is looking to fill two new positions, focused on building an electronic payment service based on the company’s existing iTunes accounts. Millions of customers have personal accounts that already store credit card information, allowing them to make purchases within the Apple Store app, in retail stores, and through iTunes. Apple hopes to expand this to third-party avenues as well, both online and at retail locations.
The company has been meeting with potential applicants for two new positions at Apple focused exclusively on building a business around the hundreds of millions of credit cards it already has on file. Apple is seeking to fill head of product and head of business development positions, one of these people said.
“Their ambitions are very, very serious,” one of the sources said.
Apple’s interest in the mobile payment arena has been rumored for years but gained renewed attention in early 2014, when The Wall Street Journal announced the company was working on a new mobile payment service, hoping to allow people to use their iOS devices to make purchases for physical goods in apps and on the web as well as in retail stores using payment info stored in iTunes accounts.
The company’s mobile payment system will possibly be tied to Touch ID, the fingerprint scanning home button built into the iPhone 5s and reportedly slated for the upcoming iPhone 6 and future iPads. Apple CEO Tim Cook said in January that mobile payments were “one of the thoughts” behind Touch ID. He has also said that Apple is “intrigued” with mobile payments and noted there’s a “big opportunity on the platform.”
Apple has promised new hardware, software, and services across 2014, and it’s possible that a mobile payment solution could come later this year, though a set date is unclear as the company is clearly still in the hiring stages.
ROCKI: PLAY is a fantastic little product that was born as a result of a massively successful Kickstarter project, and I’m lucky enough to have gotten my hands on one courtesy of the lovely ROCKI team and their marketing partners.
- Wifi 802.11b/g/n (AP / Hotspot mode supported)
- Music Formats Supported : MP3, FLAC, WAV, AIFF
- Music Streaming Services Supported : TBC pending licensing request with the respective music streaming services
- ROCKI App versions : Android, iOS, HTML5 (for Windows Phone, PC & Mac)
- Connectors : 3.5mm Stereo (Audio) / MicroUSB (Power/Charging)
- Included : 3.5mm to 3.5mm Audio Cable, 3.5mm to RCA Audio Cable, USB Charging Cable, USB Charger
- Battery : 900mAH
- Dimensions: 92 x 54 x 17mm / 48g
We’ll start off by looking at the design, and the standout feature when you first check the ROCKI out.
The device is simply beautiful!
With a polygon type feel to it, the ROCKI just screams to be looked at, and is not one of those devices you’ll want to hide away behind a cupboard or cabinet in your living room – you’ll want to put this on show for all to see.
It’s worth pointing out that I didn’t get 5 separate ROCKI devices, since the image below shows the removable covers that can be applied to the ROCKI unit – yes, that’s right, not only does it look fantastic, but you can also change the colour of it without too much effort at all. The covers are made of a rubbery material and feel very well made and solid, not like they’d easily rip in your hand when applying pressure.
The ROCKI easily fits in the palm of your hand and has a flat bottom so can be placed flat on a surface easily. There is an aux out as well as a micro-USB port for charging on the side of the device. There is also a boot pinhole button on the bottom of the device to reset everything should you wish to return the device back to factory settings.
Not only does the ROCKI look the part but it brings a function to the market which currently is pretty much only achieved (well) by Apple’s AirPort express, and ROCKI even offers benefits over those too.
ROCKI will take any aux of phono feed from any set of speakers and will make itself a wireless receiver to enable music streaming to that once old and forgotten speaker system through the ROCKI iOS and Android app, or through a little workaround we documented using AllCast.
Once the ROCKI is all set up and connected to speakers, it works pretty much like any other AirPlay receiver for those that are used to that technology. The ROCKI app will locate the ROCKI unit on your wireless network and offer it as an option to stream your locally stored music to from your Android or iOS device.
Currently that’s really the only downside to ROCKI in that the app can only stream locally stored music content on your mobile device. Support for Spotify and Deezer is confirmed to be coming to the app, and that will really round off the functionality for the ROCKI device.
However, since I was using a rooted device paired with AllCast, the ROCKI just acted like another AirPlay speaker on my network and could receive audio from Spotify with no issues, outside of the ROCKI app. Since this isn’t native functionality, to maintain the full experience, you should wait for official support through the ROCKI app, but it’s a little workaround for the mean time.
Audio sent to the ROCKI is crystal clear, with no degradation from what I could hear anyway. The device performed extremely well and never failed to perform on demand when called upon. The battery has still only been charged a few times having survived several hours per day of being switched on.
The only issues I had with ROCKI is the initial setup where I came into a few issues with the device connecting to my WiFi network. For some reason it would not complete the initial setup when connecting to one of my wireless networks, and would tell me I had entered the incorrect password. ROCKI support was fantastic and offered their assistance immediately, but eventually it accepted my password and proceeded to complete the initial setup. I must stress that this is the only issue I’ve had with ROCKI and it has been super stable since, and a pleasure to use.
The ROCKI is deservant of one of our highest review scores yet, and really only is let down by the limitations of the accompanying app only being able to play local content since most people do rely on streaming services to retrieve their content. However, when Spotify and Deezer support is added, and here’s me hoping Google Music All Access, the ROCKI is undeniably a must have device.
The ROCKI: PLAY is now available to order from their website starting at only $49.00, and I definitely recommend everyone orders one!
The post ROCKI: PLAY Review – Enable WiFi Streaming to any Speaker System appeared first on AndroidGuys.
Looking to change up your Android home screen? It doesn’t get much easier than swapping out the wallpaper; it’s one of the quickest ways to breath new life into the mobile experience.
What you’ll find here is a collection of 30 images inspired by the Motorola blog and the Moto X. They’re not official wallpapers but you wouldn’t know it from looking at them. The designer, Alex Pasquarella, has done a tremendous job of putting together images that look and feel like something that would come pre-installed on anything out of Motorola’s camp. Be sure to follow him on Google+ and check out his blog.
Please note that we do not claim ownership of any of these images. If you see something here that should not belong or is your own work, please let us know. We don’t want to get anyone in trouble and will be happy to swap the image out for something else.
Click here to see our other wallpaper articles.
As part of the “Better” environmental campaign that was initially unveiled this morning, Apple has posted a video of its Apple Campus 2 project, displaying a series of renderings of the building along with some details on the site from campus designer Norman Foster.
Foster speaks on Jobs’ inspiration for the campus, noting his love of both Stanford and the area that he grew up in. “The idea is to bring California back to Cupertino,” said Apple’s senior arborist David Muffly, who is in charge of the flora that will be added to Apple’s campus.
Along with the video, Apple outlines its plans to make its second campus more environmentally friendly. The site will be “the most energy-efficient building of its kind,” powered by 100 percent renewable energy sources, including a massive solar energy installation.
The company also plans to have huge amounts of open space, which will be accompanied by both fruit and shade trees, and commute alternatives will see 15,000 Cupertino employees using biofuel buses, public transit, bikes, and more instead of cars.
The building itself is just part of the story. Just under 80 percent of the site will be open space, populated by more than 7000 trees — including more than 6000 newly planted shade and fruit trees. Drought-tolerant plants will be used throughout the landscape to minimize water use.
While the Apple Campus 2 video shared by Apple was initially unveiled in October during a session with the City of Cupertino, this is the first time Apple has released the video in high quality to the public. Apple is hoping to complete its second campus by 2016.
With the 2013-2014 NBA Playoffs underway sports fans will be keeping close tabs on things when mobile. Of course Google Now does a pretty good job of keeping you in the loop at all times, but there is also an ‘app for that’ as it were. The NBA Game Time app is a free app that is meant to keep you in the loop all things NBA related. Last week they pushed an update to the app that brought some special treats to Samsung Galaxy device owners.
The new Samsung Experience section is officially live for owners of the Galaxy S5, Galaxy S4, Galaxy S3, Galaxy Note 2 and Galaxy Note 3. The new section brings you an exclusive lockscreen with live countdowns to your teams next game, live scoring updates during the game and quick access to playoff series scores all without unlocking your device. You also get some wallpapers to set of your favorite teams.
As a Galaxy owner you will also get special highlights from the playoffs like slow motion video content taken with the phantom camera, mini-movies from select games and segments from “NBA Inside Stuff”. As a famed Galaxy owner, you will get all that content before it is released to the general mobile community.
While everyone (and everything) dies in time, just how and when they die has changed a lot in the past few decades; it’s not necessarily clear how you’re likely to kick the bucket. Thankfully, Bloomberg has used visual data to make sense of death trends in the US. Some trends aren’t surprising — medicine, science and societal factors have helped Americans both live longer and avoid unnatural ends, like murders. As of 2010, roughly a third of all deaths were of people 85 and older. That’s a big jump from 1968, when just 13 percent of people would live to become octogenarians.
However, there are a few notable quirks in the numbers. AIDS was the biggest killer among young people for several years until education and treatments took big strides forward. Also, there hasn’t been much progress in lowering deaths among middle-aged people in recent years — reductions in disease rates among the 45- to 54-year-old crowd have been countered by rises in drug-related fatalities and suicide. And there’s a downside to medical technology helping people survive further into old age, since successes in fighting cancer and heart disease have been partly offset by increases in slow-but-deadly conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia. The data may be an all too powerful reminder of your mortality, then, but it’s at least reassuring to know that the graphs are mostly moving in the right direction.
[Image credit: Louise Docker, Flickr]
Filed under: Internet
Fitness trackers and smartwatches come a dime a dozen, but devices that combine the best of both? Still exceedingly rare. Now, however, Samsung thinks it has the perfect solution in the Gear Fit, a fitness band with a beautiful, curved screen, as well as a heart rate monitor, pedometer and a few smartwatch features thrown in for good measure. It’s an ambitious product, no doubt, but unfortunately, this $200 fitness-tracking smartwatch hybrid didn’t quite meet my expectations. Here’s why.
Hardware and display
Beautiful. That’s the thought that ran through my mind when I handled the Samsung Gear Fit for the very first time back in February. Mostly it was the screen that got me, a 1.84-inch curved Super AMOLED display that wraps around your wrist. It helps this smartwatch/fitness band hybrid look and feel more natural, and it’s much more aesthetically pleasing than most of its rivals, too. The screen itself has vibrant colors, making it fun to stare at even when you’re not using it. It’s barely readable in sunlight, though; you’ll need to bump it up to “outdoor brightness” mode, and even then it only stays in that mode for five minutes before reverting back down to your previous setting. And since there’s no ambient light sensor, there’s no auto-brightness setting to make it easier for your display to adjust when you go outdoors.
Moving beyond the screen, the Fit is a narrow plastic module that comes with an interchangeable wristband. It’s easy enough to swap colors, though you won’t have many options at the beginning — just six for now. It’s comfortable enough that it’s not a burden to wear for long periods of time, which is something I can’t say about many rival watches. Still, it’s a sporty-looking device, if you know what I mean, which means anyone looking for something elegant should probably look elsewhere.
The Fit has one physical home button, which you can also double-press as a shortcut to certain apps (that part’s customizable — just choose the feature you use most often). On the underside of the device, you’ll find the heart rate monitor, which uses an LED to measure your pulse, along with a proprietary docking/charging port. Inside, the watch comes with Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy, an accelerometer and gyroscope. What’s missing? GPS, which could’ve made it possible to add more fitness-tracking options (especially useful when it’s not within range of your phone).
The charging dock used here is quite small, which also makes it a huge liability. Not only is it one more accessory to take around whenever you go on a long trip, but it’s also incredibly easy to lose. There’s not much to the cradle itself: It features a micro-USB port and a couple wing-like tabs that help secure it onto the sides of your Fit. It does a good job of attaching to the watch whenever I need to plug the device in. The problem is, if one of those tabs were to break off later, it’d be virtually impossible to charge the device.
Just like Samsung’s new Galaxy S5, the Fit is IP67-certified, which means it can be immersed in up to a meter of water for up to 30 minutes. So, taking a shower and washing dishes are perfectly acceptable, and it’d probably even be OK if you jumped into the pool with it.
Software and functionality
I won’t bother mincing words here: The hardware is good, but the software isn’t. It’s not running Android or Tizen OS, like Samsung’s other Gears. Instead, it uses a specialized operating system that’s limited in functionality and doesn’t allow third-party apps to work on the device itself (this may change eventually, but probably only if the watch sells well enough to justify it).
Once the watch is set up, you’ll be greeted by a home screen. You can change this panel to one of several different preset options: You can display the pedometer, the local weather, your next calendar appointment or even a second clock for a different time zone. If you want to jazz up your clock beyond that, you can choose from 10 different themes; you can also make your own wallpaper by cropping a narrow strip out of any pic in your gallery.
Aside from the clock, the user interface is comprised of 10 menu options (11 if you count App Connect, which pops up if a Fit-compatible app like Strava is installed on your Galaxy device). If you’re fine with small text, you can fit up to three icons on the screen at the same time; if you prefer everything to be larger, however, you’ll have to make do with one. Gear Fit Manager, a Samsung phone app you need in order to manage your watch, lets you rearrange the menu as you see fit.
Finally, the menu can be split up into two sections: apps that function as fitness-tracking features, and apps that utilize the smartwatch part of the device. I’ll discuss them separately.
As a fitness band
If you have a Gear Fit-compatible phone or tablet, chances are you’ve seen the S Health app. It’s meant to be a one-stop destination for almost all of your fitness data, such as your heart rate, exercise, calorie intake and so on. It links with your Samsung Account, so you should be able to back up your data and transfer it to other Samsung-made devices down the road if you feel so inclined. As you might have guessed, almost any fitness tracking you do on the Fit can be downloaded and synced with S Health. By default, the phone and Fit are supposed to talk to each other once every three hours for data transfers, but you can have it less frequently (e.g., once or twice a day).
The idea behind the heart rate monitor is wonderful, but in practice, it isn’t as useful as I was expecting. First off, it’s not accurate enough; just like the Galaxy S5 and Gear 2, the sensor’s numbers range anywhere from a solid “in the neighborhood” to outright “outlandish.” The measurements varied wildly when I adjusted the Fit to a different position on my wrist, and the variation was even bigger when I measured my pulse on both wrists. All told, the sensor is too sensitive to sweat, movements and noise, often requiring you to make multiple attempts. Lastly, the only way to have the Fit continually measure your heart rate is to go in and tell the watch that you’re starting your workout. Even then, that option is switched off by default.
When you’re ready to begin your workout, tap on the exercise menu option. Doing this gives you a small number of workout types to choose from: walking, hiking, running and cycling. These are capable of tracking your distance, the amount of time it takes to complete the activity and the number of calories you’ve presumably burned in the process. Unfortunately, regardless of which activity you choose, there’s no way to pause once you’ve started, so your workout time won’t be accurate if you stop to take a break.
Some of the options, such as running mode, come with a built-in coaching feature. As you run, the heart rate monitor keeps an eye on your pulse and the coach will give you simple instructions like speed up or slow down. Like I said, walking is one of the workout options in the exercise menu, but the pedometer is treated as a completely separate app on the main menu. This is incredibly unintuitive; it means that if I want to go on a walk and track all of my data, I have to go into two different parts of the Fit to activate everything before I can even leave my house. (The pedometer is turned off by default.) If the pedometer had already counted your steps for the day up until that point, you’d have to reset it so you can begin your workout at zero. I want to count both daily and workout-specific steps, so it would make more sense to include a “steps counted” feature as part of the workout screen instead of treating it as a separate data point.
All of this is frustrating, but it could almost be forgivable if the pedometer were at least accurate. Not only is it imprecise, but it doesn’t sync properly with S Health. Regarding the first concern, I took a walk and counted my steps the old-fashioned way (with my brain); when I compared it with my Fit, the two figures weren’t close enough to each other to blame margin of error. I also took my GS5 and Fit along with me for a mile-long exercise — half of it walking and the other half running — and the Fit calculated 200 more steps than my phone. These are just a couple examples, of course, but I’ve noticed many more discrepancies over the past week and a half.
The syncing problem only manifested itself when I used both the Fit and Galaxy device to monitor my exercise; because the S Health app knows you might have both your phone and smartwatch on you at the same time, it only syncs the workout with the earliest start time. On paper, it’s a smart idea; both devices should measure the exact same results. Since they clearly don’t, though, this means you’ll end up with a discrepancy in your exercise unless you turn off the activity tracker on one device (or leave your phone at home when you’re going for a run). The Fit also didn’t do a good job of calculating distances traveled. I used a local track to run a mile, but the Fit told me I’d only travelled one-fifth of that distance. Again, GPS would have come in mighty handy here.
Sadly, the Fit’s woes go beyond fitness tracking — its sleep tracker is also fairly pointless. The Fit uses its built-in accelerometer to detect motion as a way of determining if you’re fully asleep, and… that’s about it. It also has a timer that tracks when you want to begin sleeping and when you wake up, but even that’s a hassle. Unlike the Basis B1 band, which automatically detects when you fall asleep, the Fit requires you to do it manually. So, if it takes you a full half-hour to conk out, the Fit will be none the wiser.
Not only is the amount of sleep data limited but also, the only way to store any of it is to download a standalone app in the Samsung Store called “S Health Sleep.” That’s right, one of the Fit’s marquee features has no place in the main S Health app. Why the company did it this way, I can’t be sure. What I do know, however, is that you currently need three different apps to properly manage the Gear Fit and all of the data you collect on it. At this point, you probably can see exactly how confusing the user experience is here. I imagine many of these problems will be solved over time, but by then it might be too late.
As a smartwatch
The fitness tracker obviously needs some work, but how does the Fit do as a smartwatch? Let’s start with a recap of what it does: like the Pebble, It’s an extension of your phone, with notifications for incoming calls, text messages and emails, and also select apps. Most of that works fine, but notifications — especially long ones — are a bit of a mess simply because of the awkward screen. If I look at it in horizontal mode, I have to view it from an awkward angle that hurts my neck (more on this in the next section). Most apps don’t even show the actual notification; they display a teaser and give you the option to look at it from your phone. In the case of Gmail, you can see the sender’s name and subject line, but nothing else. Worse, if you have more than one email, your most recent message details blend into one single notification like a run-on sentence.
There’s also a timer, media controller and stopwatch on board if you need them, but this is essentially where the functionality stops — remember that there are no third-party apps here. For a lot of people, this will be more than plenty — as I mentioned before, this isn’t meant to replace your smartphone, but I’d still like to see what else developers could do to the Fit to make it more effective when it comes to completing basic tasks.
In case you’re wondering, the Fit comes with a Do Not Disturb mode (which Samsung calls Blocking Mode), but there’s a catch: It’s combined with the sleep tracker, so that’s the only time you can use it. While I definitely like to use this mode when I’m sleeping, there are plenty of times when I’m trying to focus on other tasks and don’t want my wrist vibrating every few seconds. This seems like a huge oversight on Samsung’s part.
Performance and battery life
There’s one other problem with using the Fit as a smartwatch: The display itself may be fun to look at, but the actual contents on the screen aren’t. That’s because the panel is so narrow that I had to strain my neck every time I wanted to read the Fit display in horizontal (landscape) mode. Vertical (portrait) mode solves this problem, but introduces another issue: You can only read a few characters of text on each line, forcing you to scroll even further down the screen just to get to the end of the message.
On the plus side, scrolling isn’t terribly difficult since the screen is reasonably responsive. But unless your phone is in another room and you’re not able to get up and grab it, using two hands to scroll through a notification on your watch pretty much defeats the purpose — it’d be faster to just pick up the phone.
Meanwhile, I never had any problems pairing the Fit to my Galaxy S5, nor did I have any issues maintaining my Bluetooth connection. Also, the built-in accelerometer makes it possible to wake the display up when I raise my arm, but the performance here is hit-or-miss. On multiple occasions, I found myself grossly exaggerating my movements because simply raising my arm didn’t actually turn it on.
As for runtime, Samsung claims the Fit’s battery will last three to four days. After spending a little over a week with it, I have to agree. I only had to fully charge the unit twice during my time reviewing it, and each time it lasted for four days. Admittedly, though, it probably would have drained faster if I were a more avid runner, which means the usual caveat applies here: Your mileage may vary.
The $200 Gear Fit is unique in that it faces competition from not one, but two types of wearables: fitness trackers and smartwatches. That means you have a lot to choose from, even though the Fit is one of a few devices that attempt to bridge the gap between the two genres. But it’s not the only one. When it comes to being a jack-of-all-trades, the $400 Adidas miCoach Smart Run does a good job combining several elements, doing quadruple-duty as a media device, training coach, GPS tracker and heart rate monitor. The problem is, it’s pricey. In fact, given the feature set, the Gear Fit feels like a steal at half the cost.
Aside from the performance issues, the Fit also has limited compatibility. It can only connect to specific Samsung smartphones and tablets, so anyone using other Android or iOS devices won’t be able to do anything with it. It’s also on the expensive end of the fitness-band spectrum, going up against the $199 Basis band. Although the Fit has a few more smartwatch-type qualities, the Basis B1 does a better job tracking most fitness activities. And, as mentioned earlier, it even monitors your sleep automatically, a killer feature that puts the Fit’s capabilities to shame.
On the cheaper side, you can choose from the $150 Jawbone Up24, $100 Fitbit Flex, $100 Polar Loop and $130 Garmin Vivofit. The Garmin and Polar devices have optional heart rate monitors, and the former has a simple display for stats; all of them can connect with most smartphones to sync your data. While most fitness trackers don’t have many smartwatch qualities (if any), most smartwatches have at least a few fitness tracking features. The Pebble (which ranges from $150 to $249 depending on the model) is backed by an enthusiastic developer community, and it’s got a bunch of clever apps related to health and fitness, such as sleep trackers, swim counters and pedometers (to name a few); you’ll find Strava, RunKeeper, Runtastic Pro and other well-known apps in the Pebble store as well. Unfortunately, though, the Pebble, doesn’t have a heart rate monitor.
I’ll give Samsung credit where it’s due: It’s one of the first companies to blend a fitness tracker with a smartwatch, and there is indeed a market for such a device. In terms of hardware, the company did a fantastic job crafting a curved device that feels comfortable and looks good, to boot. Samsung also included a heart rate monitor, a beautiful display and interchangeable bands — all good things.
Where Samsung failed is in the software. The user interface is confusing; the display is awkward to read; the heart rate monitor and pedometer aren’t accurate; and the sleep tracker only logs a couple important stats. Ultimately, the company tried so hard to integrate a fitness tracker with a smartwatch that it ended up half-baking both aspects. As is, it’s not worth the $200 asking price.
History, too, would suggest it’s not a good idea to buy this right now. As I mentioned in my original Galaxy Gear review, the device felt more like a proof of concept. Samsung clearly agreed, since it pushed out an improved sequel less than six months later. Now, the Gear Fit appears to be in the same position: great on paper, but poorly executed. It’s best to wait this one out, but hopefully Samsung will push forward, listens to feedback and comes out with a much better version before too long.