Engadget and Ars Technica Reviews Moto 360

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 14, 2014 - 10:11 PM |
Tagged: motorola, moto 360, smartwatch

When I covered the announcement of the Apple Watch, one of our readers pointed out that we had very little smart watch coverage. That is fair critique, and I can see how it appeared to give Apple an unfair slant. As far as I know, we will not be reviewing any smart watch, of any sort, for the foreseeable future (my phone still runs Froyo). Engadget and Ars Technica did, though.

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Android Wear launched with three smart watches: the LG G Watch, the Samsung Gear Live, and (after a little delay) the Motorola Moto 360. The third one is a bit different from the other two in that it features a round screen. Both sites like the design but complain about its use of a TI OMAP3 SoC and its limited battery life. The OMAP3630 is manufactured at 45nm, which is a few process shrinks behind today's 28nm products and soon-to-be-released devices with 20nm and 14nm processors. With a 300mAh battery, a little less than a half or a third of a typical AAA battery, this leads to frequent charging. The question is whether this will be the same for all smart watches, and we don't know that yet. The Samsung and the LG smart watches, under Ars Technica's custom benchmark, vastly outperform it, though.

Engadget also complained about its price, at $250 and $299, which is actually $100 and $50 less than Apple's starting price. Ars Technica neither praised nor complained about the price.

Source: Engadget

ASUS ZenWatch Announced

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 10, 2014 - 04:26 PM |
Tagged: asus, smartwatch, zenwatch

The ASUS ZenWatch is their "first wearable device produced in partnership with Google". It is a smart watch from the Android Wear platform. It has a curved glass display of unknown resolution, a leather strap, and a "quick-release clasp". It ships with numerous faces... because it's software and it is basically free after you pay the designer, especially with the price of storage these days. It requires a phone with Android 4.3 or later.

ASUS has customized the user interface with their ZenUI. Its main usability features either interact with your phone or track your fitness activity. It acts as a pedometer, calorie counter, heart rate monitor, and fitness goal tracker. Each of these are integrated around their ZenUI.

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ASUS has not publicly announced pricing or availability. According to VR-Zone, ASUS representatives state "under $200". This is significantly less than Apple's "starting at $349".

Source: ASUS

One More Thing from Apple... the Apple Watch

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 9, 2014 - 05:51 PM |
Tagged: apple, smartwatch, ios

After Apple announced the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and Apple Pay, they unveiled their smart watch project: the Apple Watch. Technically, they actually announced three families, the Apple Watch, the Apple Watch Sport, and the Apple Watch Edition, with a combined total of 34 different models. They will launch early next year with a base price of $349. About half of the 34 models are a few millimeters smaller, 38mm vs 42mm, although both are unisex.

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Apple Watch

The main feature is its "Digital Crown". It is basically a mouse wheel which can be clicked as a Home button. This wheel can be adjusted to zoom in, adjust meters, and so forth (like a mouse wheel). Below the "Crown" is a Contacts button which, well, brings up your contacts. It has a touchscreen with force sensors, to differentiate between touch and press. The screen also provides haptic feedback for tactile sensations, which actually interests me (in terms of what developers learning what it can do if it is accessible).

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Apple Watch Sport

Each model charges with a magnetic attachment on the back, although battery life is not described. I would be surprised if it was anything less than a full, woken day, but it is possible that it will not stay awake as long as you are. We just do not know at this point. This is probably the best reason to wait for a review before purchasing, if you have any level of interest. That could easily be a deal breaker.

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Apple Watch Edition

The watches are all basically the same from a technological standpoint. Every model, besides the Apple Watch Sport, has a Sapphire-protected screen (the Sport uses "Ion-X glass" which we currently know nothing about). The bands are replaceable via a button latch on the back, allowing the strap to slide off of the face. The "Watch Edition" (that name...) is created from 18-karat gold. Specifically, "Each has a watch case crafted from 18-karat gold that our metallurgists have developed to be up to twice as hard as standard gold". Yes Apple, because gold is a soft metal... but I digress.

The Apple Watch will arrive in early 2015 and will start at $349. It is currently not certified by the FCC, although I am sure that the major tech blogs will announce when that happens. It requires iPhone 5 (or later).

Source: Apple

Google Quietly Dives into the Smartwatch Wars on a WIMM

Subject: Mobile | September 4, 2013 - 02:45 PM |
Tagged: wimm, smartwatch, google, Android

In an effort to bolster its own trek into the much-hyped smartwatch market, Google has acquired android smartwatch developer WIMM Labs. This may be new news to you, but this stealthy acquisition occurred well over a year ago, with most of the world none the wiser—WIMM casually shuttered its operations and alluded to an “exclusive, confidential relationship”—until tech news company, GigaOM leaked the details of the merger .

Since GigaOM spoke up, there has been a deluge of activity to back their claim: Investment bank Woodside Capital Partners posted an image practically screaming that they had assisted with the merger, and a number of WIMM employees are updating their online profiles to state that they now work for Google. The purchase of WIMM labs will give Google a massive edge in the upcoming smartphone wars and here is how:

Like many manufacturers of Android hardware, WIMM has implemented a unique ecosystem exclusive to its devices, but unlike most other manufacturers, the WIMM Micro App Store features an independent third party developer program; this means that much like Google’s own Play Store—the primary Android marketplace—that anyone with a great app idea can build a Google smartwatch-ready app. This added capability doesn’t just mean a few extra apps for your smartwatch, though. It also will allow app integration, so that alarm clock set up on your Android smartphone or tablet will buzz on your watch, your calendar will literally always be on hand, and your highly important notes will always be accessible. The WIMM/Google Micro Apps will also operate with unique independence from their phone and tablet-bases cousins. A Google Smartwatch Micro App could, for instance, remotely control your smartphone, enabling you to make phone calls, play music, or power down the device.

The Micro App Store is important, but the hardware and personnel benefits that came with the WIMM acquisition should not be ignored; any patents that WIMM owned are now at Google’s disposal, and with other tech giants, such as Apple looking for a reason to sue anybody for “stealing their ideas,” and with those patent troll companies still being a drain on legitimate business ventures, the WIMM patent portfolio could go a long way in protecting Google’s interests from the legal sharks. Also, the wealth of knowledge about the Micro App Store’s inner workings will go a long way in streamlining the Play Store/Micro App Store app integration process.

wimm.jpg

Image source: GigaOM

The WIMM acquisition proves that Google is dead serious about playing its hand in the smartwatch wars; consumers should be on the lookout for a “Google Nexus Smartwatch,” and seriously consider buying into the capabilities of such a device, and owning one themselves.

Source: GigaOM