First, there was the rise of the smartphones. Now tablets are saturating the market. What will be the next smart gadget that will achieve far-reaching adoption? Some experts believe smartwatches are the next big thing. With Samsung’s recent release of its Galaxy Gear device and rumors swirling about an iWatch from Apple, what is the status of smartwatches and what can we expect to see in the near future?
The Galaxy Gear from Samsung pairs with the Galaxy Note 3 and can take calls, responds to voice commands, and capture photos and videos with its 1.9 megapixel camera. It syncs with Evernote and MyFitnessPal, making it easy to stay on top of reminders and track personal health and fitness stats. The watch is equipped with an 800 Mhz processor, 512 MB of RAM, and 4GB of internal memory.
Unfortunately for Samsung, the Gear has been receiving mixed to negative reviews. “[I]t falls short when trying to deliver basic functions that one would want in a wearable companion device,” says Justin Rubio of IGN. Described as being clunky and gimmicky, the widespread criticism has translated into problematic sales – a staggering 30% of Gear watches purchased through Best Buy have been returned.
“[T]he Galaxy Gear performs like a prototype rather than a product ready for prime time,” warns Rubio. The verdict is nearly unanimous on the $299 Gear – save your money and wait for a better smartwatch device to be released.
The Pebble smartwatch gained notoriety when it received a record-breaking reception on Kickstarter. After initially asking for $100,000, Pebble received over $10 million of funding through the crowd-funding platform from nearly 69,000 backers.
Pebble works with the iPhone and Android smartphones. It’s water resistant and boasts a large lineup of downloadable watch faces and apps making for a customizable device. What’s more, Pebble’s Software Development Kit (SDK) allows developers to build Pebble-enabled apps, opening the door to a slew of apps to be created.
Having reached sales of 275,000 units prior to its Best Buy release, the smartwatch promptly sold out the weekend following its Best Buy debut. Reviews have been mixed to positive, with some critics saying it’s better than the Galaxy Gear.
With reports growing about an Apple smartwatch, rumored to be in design at Apple’s California headquarters, which features are anticipated to be included on the device should Apple release an “iWatch”? Some speculation exists that the iWatch will be fully flexible – OLED screen included. And for the band? A slap-band bracelet is another possibility according to some smartwatch gossip. As for pairing, it will, of course, work with the iPhone.
With time running out in 2013, it looks like a release date is more likely for 2014. At what time of the year, though, is anyone’s guess. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a proven track-record in predicting Apple rollouts, estimates that consumers won’t be able to get their hands on the iWatch until the second half of 2014. All this is speculation however, as Apple has yet to release details on an iWatch or confirm whether the development of one is even being explored.
Are you looking forward to these new wearable smart devices, or do you feel it’s just a gimmick? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter!