NEW Smart Watches – Coming Soon
The following smart watches will soon be available for purchase. Click a name to read the review.
CEO Tim Cook has hinted more than once that wearable tech is a part of Apple’s future. Supply chain checks indicate several suppliers are gearing up for a 1.5-2″ screen device of some type.
- In his Q4-2013 analyst call in January, Tim Cook said that “new product categories” are coming this year.
- In February, 2013, Bloomberg implied that Apple had 100 product designers working on a watch or something similar.
- Apple has discussed a watch-like device with manufacturing partner, Foxconn.
- Apple has been hiring designers from the likes of Nike and Yves Saint Laurent.
So we think it’s a really good bet that an iWatch is on its way, soon. If and when the Apple iWatch hits the market, there’s no doubt that millions of the Apple faithful will buy it.
What, exactly, are we waiting for?
A wide range of rumored features have been reported so far, including:
- 1.52-inch P-OLED display: in January, 2014, a Korean news source reported that LG won the contract to product the iWatch screens.
- Recent rumor confirms the iWatch will have a curved AMOLED display
- Slap Bracelet: Apple’s patent for a flexible display also shows a 2-sided bracelet design that snaps into place.
- Full iOS support: the Verge reports that insiders have confirmed the iWatch will support existing iOS apps. If true, this would be a huge differentiator.
- make calls
- a pedometer (accelerometer + software) for counting steps and monitoring other fitness activities.
- sensors for monitoring health data
- built-in map support
- built-in Siri: send texts, update Facebook and Twitter statuses, find businesses nearby, et al.
- mobile payments via Passbook
- a multimedia controller
- control over home automation devices
Recently, the rumors have become more specific.
Health Monitoring Features
A New York Times report said that a mid-December 2013 meeting between FDA officials and Apple employees about “mobile medical applications” is proof that Apple is pursuing a smart watch-like device with health monitoring applications. The people attending this meeting were very prominent senior executives from both Apple and the FDA, so the NY Times thinks the meeting carries a lot of weight.
A separate report from 9to5Mac says Apple’s proposed “Healthbook” application in their upcoming iOS version 8 will monitor and track “blood pressure, hydration levels, heart rate, and glucose levels”, among other things. Healthbook would also track weight loss and remind you to take your prescription. A separate body-attached device is required to house the sensors needed to collect and track health information like this, so that suggests the Apple iWatch might do that job, sending the information wirelessly to the Healthbook app on your iPhone. iOS 8 is expected to launch later this year.
In February, a Chinese supply chain source reported that the iWatch will be able to monitor heart rates and possibly oxygen levels using onboard optical sensors. To accomplish this, however, the device will need to be in contact with the surface of the skin. We can envision a slick application in which you press your watch against your wrist to check your pulse. Pretty natural action…
Longer Battery Life
MacRumors reports that the iWatch may use stepped Lithium Ion batteries, which can provide 16% more life than the type used in today’s smart watches.
Concepts Gone Wild!
So what’s it gonna look like?
There’s been no shortage of people claiming to know what the new iWatch will look like. One of the most popular mockups is this Vimeo video of a wrist-band style device.
We have to admit, it looks cool! But we don’t think this is what it will look like.
More likely, it will look more like other smart watches on the market today - something like the mockups that Martin Hajeck prepared a while back, below:
Clearly, there’s little chance all of the above ideas will make it into a single device.
Guess we’ll have to wait to find out!
The Wall Street Journal reports that a Google smart watch with the codename, “Gem”, is heading into production soon, possibly for an early to mid 2014 release.
Reportedly the Gem will offer Google Now integration (very cool).
Several Android-compatible smart watches exist, but a Google watch would change the game. Especially if it does a great job integrating with Google Play, and with Google apps such as Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Alerts, Google News and Google Newsstand, Google Drive, and Google Docs.
Not much is really known about the design, other than an early Motorola prototype that was abandoned a year ago. That one had the Gem looking a lot like the Agent, but with a color screen.
Feature-wise, the Google smart watch is currently rumored to offer the following:
- Compatible with all Android phones
- Google Now may be built-in and integrated in special ways. A contextually-aware watch could be a real game-changer.
- Flip-up display? Google filed a patent in October last year for a “Smart-watch including flip up display.”
- A dual touchscreen design? Not likely, in our opinion.
- Curved display
Samsung Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo
At the 2014 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Samsung announced the next generation of its smart watch, the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo.
Both devices will be available in Charcoal Black, Mocha Grey and Wild Orange. The Gear 2 will also be available in Gold Brown. Situated as a higher-price offering, the Gear 2 will carry a platinum watch face.
The new smart watches will be available for sale in April for an unknown price. The Gear 2 will cost more than the Gear 2 Neo, however.
Samsung has noticeably dropped the “Galaxy” moniker from its smart watch lineup this time, perhaps as an attempt to emphasize support for a wider variety of smart phones. We should learn more tomorrow.
Getting It Right This Time
Samsung’s first Galaxy Gear experienced several issues that frustrated customers. The Gear suffered from a paltry 1-day battery life, only worked with Galaxy Gear smartphones and had a poorly situated camera. Although Samsung shipped more than 800,000 Gears in 2013, it is widely rumored that Samsung experienced a high return rate on the device.
Samsung has moved very quickly in announcing its second generation smart watch only 6 months after shipping the first Gear. They are obviously taking the smart watch market very seriously. The Gear 2 is incorporating several improvements to silence critics.
Perhaps the most important improvement has to do with battery life. Samsung now promises 2-3 days of power for the Galaxy Gear 2, up from about 24 hours on the current Gear device.
The strap-mounted camera position was another area of frustration with original Gear customers, so the Gear 2′s camera is now placed on the main body of the device. The Gear 2 Neo does not have a camera.
Heart Monitor with Fitness Tracking
It appears that Samsung is using this release to target the health monitoring and fitness tracking markets, as well.
In fact, they are stealing some of Apple’s health monitoring thunder.
Both the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo will come loaded with a heart rate sensor, a pedometer and several apps that measure stress levels, sleep patterns and track fitness activity.
As we reported a few days ago, we now know the new Gear watches are ditching Google’s Android software to run the open source operating system, Tizen. Samsung clearly wants to distance itself from Android dependence.
Tizen offers extensive HTML5 support, which should make it easy for developers to release simple apps that don’t take long to build.
However, Tizen currently has no app store to compete with Pebble, Apple and Google’s offerings. This could present a problem for Samsung, given the importance of apps to smart watch consumer appeal.
The Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo both come with 4GB of built-in memory and Bluetooth 4.0. The processor is now a dual-core 1GHz chip vs. the first-gen Gear’s 800MHz chipset.
Samsung says the Gear 2 lineup will connect with a wider range of devices, although no specifics have been released. To assist with this, both Gear 2 devices come with an infrared transmitter.
There is still no in-built GPS or micro-USB charging, but both models are IP67 water-resistant.
Surprisingly, the new models come with a smaller 300mAh battery (the original has a 315mAh battery). However, the new Tizen OS is known to be more power efficient, so less battery capacity is apparently required.
Samsung Gear Fit
At the Mobile World Congress 2014, in addition to the new Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo, Samsung announced of a third member of the Gear wearable device clan, the Gear Fit.
The Gear Fit is a sleek, curved fitness tracker packed with “the most comprehensive fitness tools available”, according to Samsung.
In reality, the Fit offers much of the same functionality as the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo and weighs about half as much as the Gear 2.
The Fit doesn’t sport a camera, speaker, microphone or a massive screen, but the Fit is an attractive package due to its smaller footprint.
If Samsung can get the price below $200 and allow the device tether to other Android and iOS phones (a big if), we think the Fit will be a ‘hit’.
Hands-On With The Gear Fit
K T Bradford produced this excellent 5-minute video which gives you a feel for how the Fit looks and functions.
The Samsung Gear Fit offers the following features and specifications:
- instant notifications from Galaxy smartphones for incoming calls, emails, SMS, alarm, S-planner and some 3rd party apps
- a 1.84 inch 432×128 curved Super AMOLED display
- Bluetooth 4.0
- interchangeable straps in Black, Orange and Mocha Grey
- IP67 dust and water resistance
- built-in Pedometer and Fitness Tracking apps
- Heart Rate Monitor
- Sleep Monitor
- Stopwatch and Timer
- 210mAh battery (Samsung claims 3-4 days between charges).
Pricing and Availability
The Samsung Gear Fit will be available for sale beginning April 11, in 150 countries. No word yet on pricing.
According to several reports, LG is planning to release the G Arch, their new smart watch and the
Lifeband Touch, a new lifestyle/fitness/health band device which was recently revealed at CES 2014 in Las Vegas.
Both will synch with LG’s new smart phone, the G3.
A Family of Wearable Devices
It appears that LG has really big plans for wearable technology. In July, 2013, a review of the Korean Intellectual Property Office showed that LG had filed patents for several types of wearable technology, including:
- GPad – an Android tablet
G Watch(now called the G Arch) - an Android smart watch
- G Glass – software connection w/ Google Glass
- G Link – wireless mirroring and/or cloud sharing service for LG devices
G Band(now called the Lifeband Touch). A wearable fitness tracker, like the Nike Fuelband
- G Hub – LG-centric app store and/or hub connecting to Google Play for media
This may come as no surprise to fans of smart watch technology – LG has dabbled in this market before. Remember the LG GD910 3G Watch Phone (pictured) from a couple of years ago?
Not much is known about the upcoming smart watch, the G Arch, however.
LG LifeBand Touch
LG recently revealed their new fitness tracking device, the Lifeband Touch, at CES 2014 in Las Vegas. The Lifeband offers many smart watch features, so it’s sort of a category-busting device.
Here’s a quick video demonstration at the LG booth in Vegas.
The Lifeband Touch will come in three sizes (medium, large and extra large) and three colors (red, silver and black). Battery life should be 2-5 days depending on use of Bluetooth.
The Lifeband looks a lot like the FitBit Flex and the Nike Fuelband. Price is expected to be around $180. It should be available for sale in Q2 2014.
Unlike many fitness trackers, however, the LifeBand also syncs with your smartphone via Bluetooth to deliver message and call alerts, and to control music playback.
The Lifeband offers traditional fitness features including tracking your steps, distance, calories, and heart rate using LG’s optional $180 ear-mounted heart rate monitor. It comes with a three-axis accelerometer and an altimeter – which Nike’s Fuelband does not offer. The device also offers gesture controls, has a lithium polymer battery that holds a charge for five days, and is splash-proof.
OKO ANDROID SmartWatch
The ANDROID SmartWatch (manufactured by Delray Beach, FL company OKO International) looks really nice.
If it delivers the features promised in the breakdown chart below, it should be a winner! Price should be around $200.
Here’s the first teaser from October 31:
- digital and analog displays
- digital tourbillon display option
- Bluetooth connectivity
- voice memos
- music control
- contact list
- voice and text communication
- a chiming minute repeater
- interval timing chronograph
- companion to both iPhone and Android smartphones
- Price: about $200
ASUS Smart Watch
ASUS has confirmed that it is planning to release a series of wearable devices in 2014, including a smart watch with distinctive features.
At a year-end party, Shih told reporters that the company will put its “entire design thought” into the development of a wearable device. “There are actually many challenges in this area, and I don’t think products that lack special features will be useful. We’ll try to replace your watch by all means,” said Shih.
But there’s more.
Shih also promised ASUS investors last year that the company will release multiple wearable tech devices at Computex 2014, scheduled for the middle of this year.
We can’t wait to see what sort of “distinctive features” will separate ASUS’ offering from the upcoming Google Gem and Apple iWatch, which are also scheduled for their 2014 debut.
Microsoft Smart Watch
Microsoft has produced several devices in the past that might be considered smart watches, including 2004′s SPOT (Smart Personal Object Technology) project.
Rumors say that Microsoft is testing super-hard glass screen displays suitable for a smart watch, but no data yet on features.
Intel Smart Watch
According to a report in The Verge, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich says that Intel is developing its own Smart Watch.
Unlike the wildly popular Pebble and the much-aligned Samsung Gear, Intel’s device won’t need to be tethered to a smartphone to work – it will have its own connectivity (like the Geak and InWatch).
The device will also offer geofencing which will provide location-sensitive alerts.
“Wearables are not everywhere today because they aren’t yet solving real problems and they aren’t yet integrated with our lifestyles,” said Krzanich in a statement. “We’re focused on addressing this engineering innovation challenge.”
Sonostar Smart Watch
Similar to the Pebble, the $180 Sonostar smartwatch has a 1.73-inch E Ink display that is – unlike the Pebble – also a touchscreen.
Available for sale near “the end of 2013″, the Sonostar will work with Android and iOS devices.
Promised features include:
- text alerts for inbound calls, Twitter/Facebook updates, SMS texts and emails.
- proprietary apps
- available in black or white only
Kreyos Meteor SmartWatch
The Kreyos Meteor is shaping up to be a really unique smart watch that should appeal to athletes and others with active, outdoor lifestyles. An Indiegogo (crowdfunded) project, the Kreyos Meteor is scheduled to ship in April, 2014. Price is set at $169.
Like the Pebble, the Kreyos uses a low-power black and white display that is not a touch screen. This offers outstanding battery life and makes it easy to read in sunlight.
But the Kreyos Meteor offers more features (if not more apps) than the Pebble, and for just a little more money. For example, the Meteor comes with a built-in speaker and microphone for taking and sending phone calls; Siri & Google Now voice control; and, a slick gesture interface.
Designed For Active Lifestyles
For fitness buffs, the waterproof Meteor comes with its own tracking app that takes advantage of a built-in 6-axis accelerometer and gyrometer. The device can also be removed from its strap and inserted into a ‘Lanyard’ necklace (see image below).
Check out Kreyos’ Indiegogo teaser video for an overview of this cool device:
Apparently, first shipments have been delayed due to a nagging speaker/microphone echo issue. We hope they get this resolved soon, so we can get our hands on one!
- compatible with iOS, Android and Windows 8 smart phones
- onboard speaker/mic combo
- unique gesture command feature
- issue and receive phone calls
- voice commands over Siri and Google Now
- built-in pedometer, accelerometer and other sensors to enable activity tracking for work-outs and sports
- lost phone alert notifies Meteor if you go out of range.
- Received notification in 8 different Unicode languages. Font support.
- Ultra Low Power MCU
- Ultra Low Power 1.26 Inch Memory LCD Screen 144 x 168 pixel
- 4 Waterproof Buttons
- Vibrating motor
- ANT/ANT+ connectivity (great for fitness device integration)
- Bluetooth 2.1+ EDR and 4.0 (Low Energy)
- 6-Axis Accelerometer & Gyrometer
- Water-Resistant Mini Speaker
- Water-Resistant MEMS Microphone with HIGH SNR and Flat-Wide Band frequency response
- Water resistant – Good for swimming and shower (ATMs: TBD)
- 150 mah Lithium Rechargeable Battery (7 days battery life)
- USB Interface for Charging and Watch OS Update
The expensive and extremely full-featured Chinese-made inWatch One was recently released and is available now on eBay. This new smart watch needs no phone to function, and you can even browse the internet!
- web browser
- built-in phone
- Bluetooth earphones
- 1.5-inch color touchscreen
- 2 megapixel camera
- voice command features
- runs for 2 days on a charge (really good for a standalone watch phone)
- runs Android 4.2 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
- onboard GPS
- gyroscope and magnetic sensors
Like the Pebble, the Agent is the product of a successful ($1mm raised) Kickstarter project.
First shipments were originally scheduled for December, 2013, but that has slipped into the March-April 2014 timeframe according to several backers on Agent’s Kickstarter board.
SDK Will Launch With Device
One of the unique things about Agent is the company’s dedication to providing powerful SDKs (app development toolkits) for app developers.
By releasing a .NET compatible SDK along with the watch, Agent should make it easier for app developers to offer lots of innovative apps for the device, and do this much faster than we’ve seen with others – except perhaps for the Pebble, who is also known for their open and developer-friendly platform.
The weather-resistant Agent smart watch is similar to the Pebble in terms of features, too. It will use an ultra-low-power black and white display for long battery life. Unlike the Pebble, however, the Agent will work with Windows smart phones and comes with a wireless charging station (photo above), which is pretty cool.
The Agent will come with built-in apps for weather and fitness, but the company is clearly betting that most app innovation will come from its developer community.
The Agent comes with the following features:
- compatible with iOS, Android 2.3+ and Windows Phone 8 phones
- 1.28-inch low-power black and white display
- motion & light sensors
- Qi wireless charging station
- running and weather apps
- water resistant
- 7-day battery life (30 day standby)
- Agent smart watch running and weather apps
- 120MHz ARM Cortex-M4 processor
with secondary AVR co-processor
- 1.28″ Memory Display (128 x 128)
with intelligent backlighting
- Anti-glare glass lens
- Bluetooth 4.0 BD/EDR + LE
- 3-axis accelerometer
- Ambient light sensor
- Vibration motor
- 7 days battery life (typical)
30 days in watchface-only mode
- Qi wireless charging
- Water resistant (ATMs: TBD)
- AGENT OS 1.0
including .NET Micro Framework 4.3
- RoHS, Pb-free
- Designed for repair and recycling
including replaceable battery
Androidly bills itself as “the first Android-powered smartwatch” and offers the largest screen available on a watch.
The $220 Androidly smart watch is available for sale on its website, though the watch doesn’t actually exist yet as far as we can tell.
NOTE: their Indiegogo fundraising campaign went flat – raising only $1,000 out of their $1 million goal.
- 2-inch touchscreen (huge)
- 256MB of RAM
- 8 to 16GB of storage (SD card)
- built-in phone
- 2MP camera
- Bluetooth & Wi-Fi connectivity
- compatible with Google Play Store apps (Android 2.2+)
The Neptune Pine is another one of the new smart watches that has a ton of features and requires no companion phone. The Pine let you make calls, take pictures, and go online to browse or catch up on email.
The 16GB version goes for $335, and the 32GB version for $395.
Offered in black or white, the Pine is scheduled to start shipping for pre-orders in April, 2014.
- Micro SIM slot
- Gorilla Glass display
- removable unit – use as a mini tablet computer
- front and rear-facing cameras
- 5MP rear-facing camera
- runs Android
- Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi connectivity
No details to report on this one, but Acer did let slip, in an interview with Pocket-Lint, that a wearable device is in the works.
It’s most likely a smartwatch, coming in 2014.
Yet another successful Kickstarter debut, the $170 Hot Watch is scheduled to start shipping in April, 2014 (for pre-orders).
An Emphasis on Gesture and Voice Control
- a gesture system that uses the onboard accelerometer to do cool things like answer a call if you bring the watch to your ear, or reject a call by shaking your hand.
- clean integration with Siri voice commands (iOS).
- Bluetooth 4.0
- waterproof to 5 ATM
- take calls
- receive messages
- check email
- check Facebook/Twitter messages
- voice command support
- 1.26-inch E Ink display
Here’s a quick demo video shot in January, 2014 at CES in Las Vegas – the interface looks simple, fast and clean.