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Posts tagged ‘SmartWatch’

19
Nov

Samsung Pay on the Gear S3 works with any Android smartphone


Samsung’s constantly trying its hand at exclusive apps and services it hopes will add value to its products, even though this strategy has been responsible for more than a few flops. Samsung Pay is one of these exclusive services, but the company has decided to change tack slightly with its newly launched Gear S3 smartwatches. Samsung confirmed on Twitter that its new wearables support mobile payments regardless of the brand of Android smartphone they’re paired with. Good news for anyone that’s steering clear of the company’s handsets following the Note 7 debacle, then.

Previously, a Samsung smartphone has been a strict requirement, even if you’ve been settling up using the device on your wrist. With the Gear S3 duo, though, all you need is a handset running Android 4.4 KitKat or above for Samsung Pay to work. To be clear, Samsung isn’t releasing its mobile payment app far and wide, squaring up to Android Pay in the process. Instead, you manage your Samsung Pay account within the Samsung Gear app.

Opening the door to other Android handsets makes a lot of a sense, as it means potential customers without a Samsung smartphone won’t be put off by missing out on one of the wearables’ key features. And the news couldn’t come at a better time. The Gear S3 Classic and Frontier have been available in South Korea for a week, but today they’ve launched in several other countries across the world, including in the US and UK.

Whether it’s the sleeker S3 Classic or the busier, more rugged S3 Frontier you’re after, both Tizen-powered wearables start at $350/£349. Various mobile carriers are also on hand to sell you the device, and you might want to check those deals out first if you plan to make use of the Frontier version’s built-in LTE radio.

Via: 9to5Google, Android Central

Source: Samsung (Twitter)

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15
Nov

See Nokia’s ill-fated ‘Moonraker’ smartwatch in action


After Microsoft acquired Nokia’s phone business, it shelved the Moonraker smartwatch that the phone maker had been working on in favor of its own Band device. The Microsoft Band wasn’t able to make a lasting impression and it too was discontinued last month. When word of the Moonraker broke last summer, we had little more than an image and a few details on the watch’s basic functionality. Thanks to Nokibar on YouTube, we now have a look at the gadget in action.

In the hands-on video, Nokibar swipes through the Moonraker’s interface to show features like the pedometer alongside missed calls and text messages with access to Facebook, email and MixRadio. There’s also a button on the device that switches between a regular watch face and the smartwatch UI. Like many similar devices, the charging port is on the back.

Now that Microsoft canceled the Band 3, it appears the company is choosing to focus on PCs and its AR/VR projects rather than wearables. At last month’s event, the focus as the massive Surface Studio all-in-one and an upgraded Surface Book. Microsoft also showed off the first VR-ready Windows 10 phone, the Alcatel Idol 4S, with news that it was also working with Dell, Acer, HP, ASUS and Lenovo on $300 handsets.

Via: The Verge

Source: Nokibar (YouTube)

15
Nov

The PowerWatch is a body heat-powered smartwatch that does very little


One of the biggest problems with smartwatches is avoiding a dead battery. Whether it’s forgetting to plug them in in time, or having to fiddle with the unwieldy magnetic disk chargers, keeping a wearable juiced up is not as convenient as it should be. With that in mind, startup Matrix Industries devised a way to harness our body heat to power smartwatches, and its technology is making its debut in the PowerWatch. I had a chance to try out an early prototype of the device, and though it did indeed work, it only offered very basic functions.

Body-heat as an energy resource isn’t new, not even in watches (remember the Seiko Thermic?). But it doesn’t take much energy to simply move a second hand around, whereas much more is needed to run a processor. The PowerWatch will be the first wearable to be powered entirely by warmth, thanks to what the company says is the world’s lowest power-consuming microprocessor, called the AMBI Q. Earlier processors were too power-hungry to be effective, says Akram Boukai, founder of Matrix Industries. Without the processor, the PowerWatch would not have been possible, he says, even though thermal technology has been in existence for far longer.

It may be power-efficient, but the AMBI Q doesn’t appear to do very much. The PowerWatch is only capable of displaying the time, tracking your steps and sleep quality, setting timers and stopwatches and monitoring the amount of energy you’re generating. That last bit is displayed as a power meter made up of blocks circling the watch face, and gets fuller as your body temperature increases, say when you’re exercising, creating a larger difference between your skin’s surface temperature and the surrounding air.

The power you produce also acts as a more accurate measure of your calories burned, since a calorie is defined as a unit of heat energy anyway. The watch will send this information to your phone via Bluetooth, displaying it in circular charts so you can see how much energy (in milliamp hours) you’re creating and compare it to data from previous days. You’ll also be able to set goals for distance and steps like you can in most fitness apps.

Those are all the functions this first-gen wearable is capable of, so don’t expect this to be a truly smart watch that can receive phone’s notifications on your wrist. The company did say these features could be added in future iterations of the product, though.

I placed the chunky PowerWatch prototype on my wrist during a recent demo and saw its display turn on after a second or two of contact with my skin. A four-bar power meter showed up on the screen, with all blocks filled up. Boukai told me that just one bar needs to be filled to provide enough energy for the watch’s basic functions. Anything generated beyond that goes towards charging the device’s 200mAh battery, which Boukai said can last two years when idle. Meaning: The device goes to sleep when you remove it, but continues to keep track of the time and store your collected data.

A fully functional prototype wasn’t available at the time of my demo, but the final version of the watch will sport a round 1.2-inch black-and-white display and 18mm or 20mm straps. It’s available now for pre-order on Indiegogo for $99, with an expected arrival of July 2017, but the price will rise to $160 when it eventually ships. While the PowerWatch appears to be a very basic, proof-of-concept device at the moment, Matrix Industries’ plans for the future are far more interesting. It intends to make hearing aids and wireless earbuds that can be powered by body heat as well, and is already working on a slew of other applications for its more efficient and reliable means of generating energy.

7
Nov

The Timex IQ+ Move is a glorified (but very pretty) fitness tracker


Fitness trackers and smartwatches have an image problem. Most of them are bulky or bland-looking, while some are borderline ostentatious. Plus, not everyone wants to ditch their Rolex or Omega for a device with a lit-up face that buzzes every five minutes. So companies have been trying to camouflage their smartwatches by embedding them in traditional, analog timepieces. Timex is proving it can appeal to old-timers with its second analog-tracker hybrid, which has a simpler design and is cheaper than its predecessor. The IQ+ Move comes in men’s and women’s sizes and designs for $150, and I’ve been wearing one for about a day. And despite my misgivings about its scarcity of features, I’ve been won over by its classic design and excellent build.

Watch purists like me will appreciate the Move’s conventional good looks. This thing actually looks like a traditional timepiece, and if no one told you, you wouldn’t know it had some smarts. The taupe-colored model I tried is classically pretty, with a dainty 36mm glass-and-metal-alloy case that has a polished sheen. Plus, I loved the slightly intoxicating scent of the genuine leather 18mm band.

That leather band isn’t waterproof, unlike the case, which can withstand submersion in up to 50 meters of water. You can swap it out for a silicone one, which is included with the women’s versions.

I was most impressed by how thin its case is. I’ve always disliked the tall, chunky cases on other smartwatches, but understood that size was a tradeoff to house all the components that make these watches smart. So it was a treat to find that the Move’s module is barely noticeable, and its case is actually slightly thinner compared to the company’s other fully analog offerings.

Other Swiss brands such as Frederique Constant and Mondain have adopted the third-party MotionX Horological platform for turning analog watches into hybrid smartwatches. But because I haven’t seen those two company’s products in real life, I can’t vouch for how sleek they are in person. The Guess Connected, which is made in partnership with Martian Watches, certainly has a heftier case. Timex, however, developed its own module that it calls the IQ+, which gives it more control over how its devices look and perform. The Move is the first of a series of products with this kind of functionality.

The IQ+ system offers some very basic features, and that might explain why it’s thinner than most connected watches. It has an accelerometer that helps it track your steps and distance traveled, and a Bluetooth radio that transmits this information to your iOS or Android device. With the companion app, Timex tracks your calories burned and sleep quality, bringing the total number of monitored metrics to four. In the time that I’ve had my Move, I’ve walked an estimated 2.5 to 3 miles (based on Google Map’s distance calculations). The app says I’ve traveled 3.38 miles. That’s quite a big difference, but I didn’t consider the steps I took at home or in the office, so this isn’t the best way to test the Move’s accuracy.

I also wore the Move to bed, since it’s supposed to automatically track my sleep. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen for me, and I awoke to find that no sleep metrics were recorded. It’s still not clear if the issue is a fluke or if there’s a setting buried in the app that I need to activate (Timex is investigating my problem), but the feature at least appeared to work in a recent demo with company reps present.

That’s one of my biggest issues with the Move: Too many things touted as “automatic” aren’t actually so. My data is supposed to automatically sync with my phone four times a day, but I realized it wasn’t doing that, and I had to manually sync it by holding down the dial for three seconds until I heard a triple beep. Later, as I was exploring the app’s settings, I realized that I had to enable auto sync and pick the four precise times of day I wanted data transfer to happen. That’s something that should already be preset in the app without requiring an opt-in. But it’s an easy problem to fix. Timex has already addressed a bunch of customer concerns about previous iterations by revamping its software, making it easier to navigate and use, so an issue like this could potentially be solved very quickly.

Without your phone, you can still monitor your day’s progress by glancing at the sub-dial on the Move’s face. You can choose to show your steps or distance progress on the second ring, and then set the second hand to always show the other metric. You can also have the second hand point at the current date instead.

The Move doesn’t do much else, really. You can set alarms and countdown timers through your phone, but other features I’ve come to expect, such as call and text alerts, are missing. It has a nice blue backlight that comes on whenever you push on the dial. This takes me back to my childhood, when I would fiddle with my Casio Baby G under my blanket at night. In fact, all it takes is glancing down at the Move on my wrist to transport me back to the days when I wore watches that did nothing but tell time. And that makes me appreciate the device’s conventional aesthetic even more.

Overall, the IQ+ Move is one of the best options in the connected analog watch space. It is a good alternative to the Withings Activite Steel, and looks more like a timepiece than most devices on the market. I appreciate the availability of sizes for men (41mm face, 20mm bands) and women (36mm face, 18mm band) and the variety of truly gorgeous designs for both genders as well. But folks who are more serious about tracking their fitness might need something that’s more full-featured and accurate. The Move is well-suited for someone who prizes good quality and design, and is happy to keep it basic.

1
Nov

Tag Heuer made a more expensive, $9,900 smartwatch


What do you do when you’ve got an empty wrist and almost $10,000 burning a hole in your pocket? Buy a rose gold smartwatch from Tag Heuer. To match your phone, private jet, toothbrush and crippling sense of loneliness brought upon by spending too much money on not-pink gadgets, of course. This Tag Heuer Connected isn’t available online, so that means you’ll have to trudge down to a jewelry store to get your mitts on one. And it might be your only shot at a luxury smartwatch now that Apple’s stepped out of the game.

The funniest thing? It doesn’t look like anything is changing here versus the model we reviewed back in January. More than that? The gold doesn’t go beyond the case. Fools, money, etc.. But hey, at least those hole in your pocket and bare wrist problems are solved.

Via: Hodinkee

Source: Tag Heuer

25
Oct

Smartwatch shipments dropped ahead of new models


The smartwatch market isn’t quite as red-hot as it looked in recent months. IDC estimates that smartwatch shipments fell by just shy of 52 percent year-over-year in the third quarter of 2016, with the biggest names often being the hardest hit. Apple was still the top dog, but its shipments fell almost 72 percent to 1.1 million. Samsung’s shipments were virtually flat, while Lenovo and Pebble saw their unit numbers drop sharply. Interestingly, the only company in the top five to see a big surge was Garmin — the relative newcomer’s shipments more than tripled to 600,000. Should the industry be worried? Not necessarily.

The problem, appropriately enough, is timing. The periods aren’t strictly comparable — many manufacturers had just launched new watches last summer, but had nothing new to show (or had barely started deliveries) a year later. The original Apple Watch was widely available in Q3 of 2015, for instance, but Series 1 and Series 2 models didn’t arrive until the last two weeks of this past quarter. Samsung has yet to ship the Gear S3, there was no third-generation Moto 360 and Pebble only started shipping its newest watches in September.

This doesn’t mean that you can expect a year-over-year recovery in the fourth quarter. It’s possible that the enthusiasm for smartwatches has cooled off, and that we’re seeing what the market is really like now that early adopters have devices on their wrists. There should at least be a season-to-season improvement, however, thanks to both new hardware and the usual holiday rush. And the smartwatch field is still young. Even veterans like Pebble and Samsung are still trying to figure out what works, and the technology is still new enough that features like GPS and LTE data are still big deals whenever they show up.

IDC's smartwatch market share estimates for Q3 2016

Via: TechCrunch

Source: IDC

18
Oct

The Misfit Phase is yet another connected analog watch


Misfit may not be the first (or even tenth) name that comes to mind when you think about sophisticated design, but its acquisition by the Fossil group last year may have taught it a thing or two about style. The company just debuted the Misfit Phase, an eye-catching analog watch that tracks your steps and sleep habitss and shows your progress toward various fitness goals. Like other smartwatches, it will alert you to incoming calls, messages and app notifications.

If that “hybrid-smartwatch” format sounds familiar, it’s because plenty of other brands already offer it — including Fossil itself and its partners Michael Kors and Skagen. Even Swiss watchmakers such as Frédérique Constant and Mondaine have joined in the fun. At $175, though, Misfit’s Phase is slightly less expensive than most of the competition.

Like others before it, the Phase sports a traditional watch face instead of a digital one and tracks your steps taken as well as sleep duration and quality. But whereas the Activite and the Swiss watches show your progress in a sub-dial on the same face, the Phase moves its hands when you press the Mode button on the top right. So if you’ve achieved a twelfth of the progress you needed to that day, the hands would move to the number ‘1’ when you press the button. Indeed, the two buttons that sit on the right of the device’s face set it slightly apart from the hybrid-smartwatch herd. But I’m not sure that having to push a button to pull up your progress is better than having it always there. The added step doesn’t feel worth the reduced clutter.

Pressing the Phase’s top button cycles through modes such as time, progress and alarm setting. A small circular window at the six o’clock position will change colors to reflect the mode you’re in. You can also set the hands to point to specific numbers on the dial depending on who’s calling or messaging you. During a brief demo, I was amused to see the hour and minute hands both swing to two o’clock position when a call came in, while the watch vibrated. Eventually, when Misfit updates its software (it’s not clear when that will happen), you’ll be able to program it so that the round window will turn to a specific color for any app you choose (i.e., blue for Facebook, green for calls, et cetera).

The bottom button triggers designated actions on your phone, such as snapping a picture when the camera is open, advancing through presentation slides or controlling music playback. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see this feature in action, so I can’t vouch for how well it works.

I was most taken by how pretty the devices looked, especially the blue-and-gold version. You wouldn’t be able to tell that this was more than a mere analog watch. That is, unless you spotted the chunkier-than-average stainless steel case. Just like your typical wristwatch, the Phase can be paired with any standard 20mm watch strap. Misfit is also offering custom bands that are available in leather or silicone, and the latter material felt surprisingly soft and comfortable. The watches themselves will be available in six band/case color combinations at launch. Because I’m such a style guru, you’ll need to know my favorites: the blue/gold, white/gold and black/gold options (in that order).

The Phase has some other things going for it. It’s water resistant up to 50 meters and, like other Misfit wearables, promises six-month battery life.

Considering how easy it is now for traditional watchmakers to add these fitness-tracking and connected features to their existing (and very handsome) timepieces, I was surprised that Misfit is charging as much as it is for the Phase. It’s slightly cheaper than Fossil’s Q Tailor ($195) and Skagen’s Hagen Connected ($195), but a touch pricier than the Withings Activite Steel ($170). The new watches will be available on November 7th on Misfit’s website.

16
Oct

Apple Watch Nike+ arrives on October 28th


If you’ve been holding off on getting an Apple Watch Series 2 in hopes of scoring the running-oriented Nike+ edition, you only have a few more days to wait. Apple has updated its product page to reveal that Apple Watch Nike+ will be available on October 28th, just in time to meet the company’s promised late October launch window. You can get the wristwear in both 38mm and 42mm case sizes at the same $369 and $399 prices as standard Series 2 watches, with a mix of black and gray straps that sometimes include highly visible (and slightly eye-searing) green accents.

As we found out when trying the Nike+ watch in September, you’re really buying this for the software. You get both Nike’s running app out of the box as well as a pair of exclusive watch faces geared towards athletics. The more breathable straps are helpful if you can’t stand a sweaty wrist at the end of a workout, but not as essential. You’re otherwise going to experience the same performance, GPS and water resistance as a run-of-the-mill Series 2. In short: while it might be the Apple Watch of choice if you rarely go a day without running, it’s not so essential for everyone else.

Via: The Verge, MacRumors

Source: Apple

11
Oct

Samsung crams LTE into a tiny smartwatch chip


Samsung’s mobile division is in crisis mode right now, so of course the company is happy to talk about one division that is doing well: chips. It just unveiled the Exynos 7 Dual 7270, which is not only the first 14-nanometer wearable processor, but the first in its class to have a built-in LTE modem. That means your next smartwatch could connect to a cell network and let you tether your laptop without a smartphone — a trick that’s reserved for the LG Urbane LTE and just a few other wearables right now.

The chip uses several different fabrication technologies, namely system-in-package and package-in-package, with the fun acronym SiP-ePoP. That helped engineers squeeze in the DRAM, NAND flash and power management chips, while reducing the total height, to boot. It also jammed WiFi, Bluetooth, an FM radio and a GPS (GNSS) receiver into the 100 millimeter square (0.155 square inch) device. Overall, it’s 20 percent more power efficient than last-gen 28-nanometer tech, Samsung says.

That should yield wearables that let you take calls or tether other devices over LTE and WiFi. Smartwatches or fitness trackers will also get GPS tracking and more without a huge power hit or need for a smartphone. To help developers get on board, Samsung has released a developer platform, but it could be a while before we see any devices that use the new chip.

Source: Samsung

10
Oct

HTC’s Android Wear smartwatch emerges in a photo leak


HTC has had on-again, off-again plans for a smartwatch for years, but it looks like something is finally starting to materialize. A Weibo user has posted what are claimed to be photos of the “Halfbeak,” an in-development Android Wear smartwatch that only recently surfaced in a Phandroid rumor. As you might surmise from the Under Armour branding, this would be all about fitness — you’d get a heart rate sensor, a rubber strap and other exercise-friendly design touches.

It’s not certain what HTC would do to spice up Halfbeak’s software, if anything. However, previous reports had it using a 360 x 360 circular display (no flat tire, thankfully) that you can clearly see here. The big question is when the smartwatch would ship, provided it’s still on track for a release. It’s easy to imagine HTC going forward with this wristwear, mind you. The company’s finances still aren’t in great shape, and a smartwatch could help establish its name among customers who currently have no interest in buying an HTC phone.

HTC Halfbeak

Via: Techtastic (translated)

Source: Weibo (sign-in required)

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