Posts Tagged ‘Smart watches’

Gadgets

A sneak preview as to what the Apple iWatch might look like (and it looks stunning)

By Stefano on February 18th, 2013

iwatch-designs

Of course, at the moment no one knows what Apple’s iWatch will look like, or even if there will be one. However an iWatch does appear to be on the cards and according to the goss it will sport a revolutionary double curved touch screen.

So fair play to the fellas at Yanko Designs who have imagined what the iWatch might look like. And if it does look like this then put me down for one – pronto.

Just to recap the iWatch will, if it ever arrives, link wirelessly to your iPhone using Bluetooth and let you have updates from your social media accounts, emails, text messages etc. You might even be able to control it using Apple’s Siri voice interface. There is bound to be a few interesting new things too.

This pic then this is how Esben Oxholm of the Yanko thinks the Apple team would design the phone/watch.

He says

Heavily inspired by the look of the iPhone 5 and sporting a minimalistic, sleek look, the watch is crafted with black aluminum on the outside and a thin layer of soft matte rubber on the inside.

It has got the highly recognizable round home button as the only physical button. The rest of the fun happens on the newly developed slightly double curved touch screen. The iWatch can be fitted to your liking, by removing or adding spacers in the lower part of the bendy bracelet.

For more go here.

For more on the background to the iWatch and to see its rivals go here



Gadgets

The Apple iWatch takes a step closer to becoming a reality

By Stefano on February 11th, 2013

smartwatchA few months ago I wrote about how Apple might be sizing up your wrist for an iWatch. I also profiled the growing number of smart watches that are on sale that use Bluetooth technology to hook up to your phone and deliver social media updates, emails and more.

Well The New York Times has been chatting to a couple of anonymous Apple employees who tell us that the company is working on a watch type device and that its USP is that it will feature flexible glass that curves around your wrist. It might also have a flexible curved, and not flat screen.

Here’s what the NYT said

In its headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., Apple is experimenting with wristwatch-like devices made of curved glass, according to people familiar with the company’s explorations, who spoke on the condition that they not be named because they are not allowed to publicly discuss unreleased products. Such a watch would operate on Apple’s iOS platform, two people said, and stand apart from competitors based on the company’s understanding of how such glass can curve around the human body.

While it sounds exciting it doesn’t sound like an iWatch is on the horizon just yet. Apple is very good at watching as other people innovate  and then delivering a product that it superior in terms of design and interface to the existing products. It did it with the iPod and then again with the iPhone and iPad.

So look out for an exciting design with a unique interface (maybe it will be voice controlled) later in the year or maybe in 2014.

That is unless someone else doesn’t get there first. Olympus, Google and Nike are all working on wearable tech and I wouldn’t bet against Samsung presenting something intriguing later in the year. There’s more on the Apple rumours here.

The most recent smart watches are here.

Pic from this clever designer.



Gadgets

Apple’s iPhone to get even bigger screen. Is the iPhablet (big screen phone) set to follow?

By Stefano on January 21st, 2013

I remember when I first heard that  Samsung was about to produce a phone with a five inch screen  – the Samsung Galaxy Note.

From the moment I saw it I knew that my iPhone’s days were numbered and that I wanted a phone with a screen that size.

A year on and I have absolutely zero regrets about buying the Note. I did worry that I might miss an iPhone app or two. But to be honest, apart from one London Coffee app that I used quite a lot but isn’t available on Google Play, I have never suffered iPhone app envy.

So today brings news from China Times that Apple is apparently considering  launching a phone with a 4.8inch screen called the Math.

Here’s what Tech Digest had to say

According to China Times, the iPhone Math will measure 4.8 inches in size, nearly an inch bigger than the current iPhone 5, and will be positioned as an alternative to large screen “phablet” devices from Samsung, LG, HTC and Sony.

While little is known about the device (and all should be taken with a pinch of salt) the source also claims that the handset will pack in an 8MP camera, provided by Largan Precision.

Firstly is a 4.8inch screen device a Phablet? Not really. You could argue that given the success of the Samsung Galaxy S3 that 4.8inches is emerging as standard screen size for smartphones. Phablets have screens of more than fine inches, well according to Wikipedia anyhow.

If it is true then it shows once again that Apple is prepared to offer bigger screens on its phones and maybe a true Phablet will follow.

Apple needs to move quickly. It has gifted a whole market sector to several of its rivals, and although brand loyalty should ensure that the iPhablet is a runaway hit, Apple will be seen as followers rather than innovators.

It also runs the risk of the whole Phablet market being dominated by Samsung. So catching up, even with Apple’s huge marketing muscle,  is going to be no easy task.

I have owned quite a few Apple products in my time, but I would say that I am pretty agnostic about the brand as a whole. I will buy the best product rather than the buy a product from a specific brand when it comes to tech. Quite often this has been Apple, but not always.

However when I swapped my iPhone for the Note a lot of die-hard Apple friends of mine were very cynical and put up the following objections. If you look at these now I think that they are all about loyalty to a brand rather than thinking logically about the way the phones might develop.

1 You don’t need a phone with a screen that big

Well actually you do, or at least some of you do. As phones have evolved the amount of time we spend using them for making calls has diminished compared with texting, messaging, reading ebooks, surfing the web and more. Once you have used a Phablet the iPhone’s screen seems incredibly small and fiddly. There really is no going back. The future of smartphones is all about bigger screens and this is something that seems to have passed Apple by.

2 You look stupid making a phone call with it

Yep, Dom Jolly. Heard that joke so many times before. Yet I noticed on the bus the other day that larger screen phones – including the Samsung Galaxy S3 in this list – actually outnumber iPhones now, so it really isn’t an issue. Besides as I said before we are making fewer  calls on our mobiles than we used to.

3 Where am I going to put it?

Most men could easily house a six incher in their pockets -every pun intended. The Note is actually quite slim too so it doesn’t feel especially obtrusive. I appreciate that many women won’t carry a huge phone in their pocket, but then don’t a lot of women carry  their mobiles in handbags?

In short I think that the arguments are over and that when Apple does produce a Phablet, as it inevitability will, all the doubters from 2012 will be zealous converts to the Phablet cause.

The future for smartphones

Finally it is worth pondering exactly where will smartphones go in the future? Could screens get any larger? At CES we saw the Huawei Ascend Mate with its six inch screen. Might a seven inch phone be on the cards? Well no, and yes. Samsung is certainly rumoured to be thinking about a 6.8inch Note.

Running in tandem  with the development of bigger phones is the growth of smart watches that hook up to mobiles wirelessly via Bluetooth and display messages, social media updates etc and even allows the user to make calls.

Having played with a few of these I can vouch for the fact that we are a long way from the smart watch going mass market. The watches are just too fiddly and not especially easy to use. Ironically what they need is a company who are brilliant at user interfaces to make them work – know of anyone?

But they will get there in the end. So maybe one day you will have a smart watch, or even some other wearable item, that you use for the basic consumption of messages etc, but with a large screen – maybe even 7 inch device – for surfing the web, reading books, gaming and even a little bit of work.

It is a combo that would suit me perfectly.



pick of the blogs

20 stunning pics of football grounds, top iPhone cases and accessories and more

By Stefano on January 14th, 2013

The latest top stories from Brandish and our pals

The most controversial TV shows ever made – with videos

150 years of The Tube – some amazing pics

David Bowie – the Cocaine years

20 stunning aerial photos of football grounds – check out the Maracana in Rio

Hamburg’s Son Heung-Min Gallops 60m Before Cracking In From Edge Of The Area

The 12 gadgets that will shape 2013 – smart watches, clever TVs and more from CES 2013

It is snowing – here are five great sledges, including one from Porsche

Elastica, The Strokes, Stones Roses and the 12 most disastrous second albums ever

Stupid tech – the fork that vibrates when you eat too much

Top 10 iPhone accessories and cases from CES 2013

The iPhone 5 not selling as well as Apple hoped – is their trouble ahead?



features, Watches

Is Apple gunning for your wrist? How the iWatch could revolutionise smart watches

By Stefano on December 4th, 2012

As a gentleman of discerning taste and impeccable grooming you are probably wearing a watch. It is likely to have been made by a high-end Swiss company and quite possibly cost you a fair bit of money.

If that is you the you are in fact part of a dying breed. Male watch wearers have been on the decline for several years now and there are many good reasons why. Firstly the economy. With many people watching their cash watches are often seen as a luxury that ultimately we can do without.

Secondly you simply can’t escape from devices that tell you the time. Even bus shelters let you know not just how long it is until the next 73 but also what the time is right now and how late you are going to be.

The overwhelming reason though for the decline in watch wearing is that it is one of many gadgets that has been usurped by the mobile phone. I bought my first mobile in 1997, which was around the time I stopped wearing watches on a regular basis. I have bought a few since, but they reside in a draw in my room and only appear on special occasions.

Nope if I want to know what the time is I pull out my phone, or if I am at home, my iPad. From a functional perspective there really is no need for me to own one.

SPOT and the early smart watches

The first whiff of change came a decade or so ago when a flurry of smart watches that appeared that added brought live data and gadget functionality to the wrist. Microsoft unveiled something called SPOT technology which drew in basic info like traffic details and the weather via FM transmissions. In spite of a hard core geeky fan club though SPOT never really took off.

I also remember a flurry of watch MP3 players like this one from Casio. There were also watch cameras too and I remember Sir Paul McCartney getting very excited about wearing one and sharing all his images with the press. There was also a Casio MP3 watch which received lots of press coverage, but attracted very few purchasers.

More recently has seen the growth of mobile phone watches which team up with Bluetooth headsets and enable the user to make and receive phone calls as well do basics like send text messages. The market leader here appears to be sWaP whose range can be bought SIM free in the UK via Amazon.

But it is only now that the smart watch has come of age and now shows signs of going mainstream. There are two reasons for this. Firstly the technology that enables watches to communicate with smart phones has matured to point whereby exciting data (ie your latest Facebook updates!) can be ported to the watch’s screen. Secondly our growing desire to archive every area of our lives – from the number of steps we take to the messages we send – has meant a renaissance in wearable technology and the wrist is a great place to keep a device to ensure that it is easy to access.

The new generation of smart watches

A great example of how smart watch technology is heading is the I’m Watch from Italy. This teams up with any number of smartphones (iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile) via a Bluetooth connection to deliver a huge selection of features. You can do the basics, make and receive calls, send text messages etc. But you can also use it to get updates from social networks, see your email, play music, check the weather and more. There are also developers working on new features to add to the watch.

The I’m Watch has its rivals. Sony’s Liveview, and the just launched Cookoo, both of which have fewer features but are significantly cheaper and may have great mass appeal.

Then there is the Pebble which gives you access to lots of apps so that you can turn your watch into a cycle computer or fitness performance analyser.

Almost all of the watches let you customise the face too, and you can even opt for an old school analogue type fascia.

You can bet too that companies who pioneered gadget watches like Swatch, are monitoring the new breed of devices and will be working on partnerships and developing their own products very soon.

Is the iWatch next?

There is one company though that could seriously propel smart watches into the mainstream – you guessed it Apple. Having sewn up the smartphone and tablet markets there is a huge amount of speculation as to where the company will be turning its attention to next. Some critics believe that Apple’s focus will be reinventing TV. However if it wants to explode a maturing market smart watches would be a sensible move. The reach would be huge and the watch would be complementary to Apple’s existing range of devices.

Apple is especially good at coming up with interfaces and operating systems that make devices easier to use. What bigger challenge could there be than making that tiny screen useful? Maybe Siri could play an important role? Secondly Apple is also genius at creating products that excite consumers. If anyone is going to be able to produce a gorgeous hi-tech watch it has to be Apple.

Finally Apple has a great track record of taking nascent technologies and perfecting them so that they are mass market friendly.

In some way the company has already done the groundwork in that iPad nano has the screen size of a smart watch and already has many of its features. All it would need to do would be for Apple to add a Bluetooth connection to the iPhone that enables the nano to access data and it would have a smart watch.

So, for any gadget lover a smart watch sounds like a no brainer. Except that there are a few significant obstacles that will have to overcome before they become mass market.

The biggest is battery life. Most smart watches need a recharge every few days and do you really want another device you have to power up.

Then there’s the making and receiving calls process. Apparently none of us are especially keen on being Dick Tracey and having a conversation via our watches.

Then there is the frustration of being able to access information but not really responding it. To reply to that tweet or email you will probably still have to get out your mobile.

Finally smart watch makers need to get design right. Producing watches that will appeal to techy boys and girls is one thing. Creating a timepiece that has the elegance and sophistication of say a Tag is another.

Over to you Jonathan Ive.

In the meantime here are the watches mentioned in the article.

I'm Watch from £300

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Picture 1 of 8

Arguably the most sophisticated smart watch to date the I’m Watch runs a form of Android and hooks up to Android, iPhone and Windows mobiles and delivers a huge amount of features. You can do the basics, make and receive calls, send text messages etc. But you can also use it to get updates from social networks, see your email, play music, check the weather and more. There are also developers working on features to the add to the watch.




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