Smartwatch Roundup – Current and Future Smartwatches Compared
Following on from phones, watches seem to be the next thing to be getting a ‘smart’ makeover and while it’s still a very new market there are already a number of smartwatch devices available, with many more in development or rumoured. Here’s a roundup of some of the key players- both those out now and those probably coming in the future.
Sony SmartWatch 2
Sony were one of the first companies to start working on smartwatches and so while most companies are still working on their first smartwatch, Sony already have a second generation device on the market.
The Sony SmartWatch 2 includes a number of features such as Bluetooth 3.0 and one-touch NFC pairing with Android smartphones, after which you’ll then be able to read emails and texts, take calls, view your calendar and even interact with social networks through it.
It has a colour screen and when not paired with a phone it can still be used like a normal digital watch. Plus there are a bunch of apps available for it including navigation and fitness tools.
Additionally the Sony SmartWatch 2 is dust and water resistant, so you can safely wear it rain or shine and it retails for around £150.
Pebble is something of an underdog in the smartwatch world. You’d expect a smartwatch to be made by a big company like Sony or Samsung that already had experience of making smartphones, but Pebble was made by a small start-up and funded by the general public on Kickstarter.
Despite those small beginnings it’s proving tremendously successful. The main difference between Pebble and Sony’s SmartWatch 2 is that Pebble has a black and white e-paper display. The lack of colour may be disappointing to some but that allows it to have a long 7+ day battery life.
The other big selling point is that it has a large number of different watch faces to choose from and you can easily swap between them using the Android or iOS app.
Beyond that it’s a fairly standard smartwatch. You can read emails and text messages on it as well as getting call notifications and weather and calendar alerts. You can also check Twitter and Facebook messages and download apps to increase its functionality.
Currently Pebble is available for pre-order from the US for $150.
Apple iWatch Concept
For now the Apple iWatch is little more than a rumour, though it’s certainly a persistent one. Key rumours and speculation about the device include that it may well feature curved and possibly flexible glass with a wrap-around design, so that the screen covers much of your wrist. It’s also likely that it will incorporate Siri in some way- after all it’s likely to be too small to really be touchscreen and being an Apple device it’s unlikely to be laden with many buttons, so Siri would be an ideal way to control it.
You’ll almost certainly be able to pair it with iPhones and iPads and being an Apple device it’s likely to be rather more stylish than the current crop of smartwatches. It’s also likely to cost a little more, though the exact price remains unknown.
Samsung Galaxy Gear (Smartwatch)
Samsung Galaxy Gear Concept
Samsung are also rumoured to be working on a smartwatch, but beyond the fact that it will probably be called the Samsung Galaxy Gear we really don’t know anything about it. What we can tell you is that it’s rumoured that Samsung will announce it at their IFA press conference on the 4th of September, so there should only be about a month to wait until we know more.
Beyond that it will presumably pair with other Galaxy devices and in all likelihood other Android devices. There’s also a fair chance that it will have some of Samsung’s own apps on it, for example it would seem an ideal fit for a stripped down version of their S Health fitness app.
Google Android Smartwatch
Unsurprisingly Google look set to get into the smartwatch game too. Unfortunately if the company is working on one then they’ve done a great job of keeping the specifics a secret. It will almost certainly need to be paired to an Android smartphone or tablet and it’s been theorised in some circles that it may work a little like Google Glass- using a small subset of Android apps and features, having a built in camera and responding to voice commands. It may also arrive this year as it’s likely that Google will want to beat Apple to market.
Alongside Apple and Google, Microsoft also seem to be working on a smartwatch. No name, price or release date is known yet but there are a few rumours flying around about what it might feature. For a start it seems the Surface team is working on it. It may feature a 1.5 inch screen and is likely to have a selection of different coloured, removable wristbands to choose from.
More intriguingly it’s also rumoured that it may incorporate ‘translucent aluminium’, which is supposedly three times harder than glass. However to date it’s proved prohibitively expensive to manufacture, so while it’s possible that Microsoft have found ways to lower the cost we’d take that particular rumour with a pinch of salt for now.
With so many major players getting involved smartwatches could become popular devices, rather than the fairly niche devices they’ve been so far. They could also be getting a lot better than the ones currently on the market are, particularly if some of the more outlandish rumours about them, such as the use of translucent aluminium and flexible glass turn out to be true.
With so many exciting devices in the pipeline we’d be inclined to say that you should hold fire on buying a smartwatch for now, until you know for sure what Apple, Google, Microsoft and Samsung are working on.
By Kevin Thomas on 02nd August, 2013