Samsung debuts Galaxy Gear ‘smartwatch’

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Samsung debuts Galaxy Gear ‘smartwatch’
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Samsung debuts Galaxy Gear ‘smartwatch’

Device is worn on the wrist and can be used to make phone calls and shoot
video

The Associated Press, September 4, 2013

Samsung’s Galaxy Gear ‘smart’ wristwatch links up with the company’s latest
smartphone and tablet computer to make phone calls, shoot video, run apps
signal incoming messages. (Stephen Lovekin/AFP/Getty)

Samsung unveiled its highly anticipated digital wristwatch today, beating
Apple to what could become this fall’s must-have gizmo.
So-called smartwatches, which can perform tasks such as displaying email and
Twitter messages on a device worn around the wrist, have been around for
several
years but have failed so far to inspire great interest among ordinary
consumers.

But with smartphone behemoths Samsung Electronics Co. and Apple Inc. joining
the fray – and Google pushing its Google Glass gadget – experts see a chance
of wearable computers breaking into the mainstream.
That is, if consumers can get used to talking to their watch, secret
agent-style.

Sony SmartWatch 2 at the Sony booth at the IFA consumer electronics fair
in
Berlin. Europe’s largest electronics show. (Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

“With Gear you’re able to make calls and receive calls, without ever taking
your phone out of your pocket,” Pranav Mistry, a member of Samsung’s
design team, told reporters at the launch in Berlin ahead of the annual IFA
consumer electronics show there.
The Gear uses Google’s Android operating system, just like many of the
phones and tablets made by Samsung. The South Korean electronics company
said the Gear
can act as an extension to a smartphone by discreetly alerting users to
incoming
messages and calls on its display screen, which measures 1.63 inches
diagonally.

The strap, which comes in six different colours, holds a basic camera that
can be used to shoot photos and video. The Gear works with popular social
media and
fitness apps such as Twitter and RunKeeper.

With smartphones and tablets now ubiquitous, electronics companies are
trying to create a new category of products to lure consumer spending. That
includes
building advanced computing technology into everyday objects such as
wristwatches and glasses.

Sony introduced its latest SmartWatch in June and unveiled an update
Wednesday.
Qualcomm also announced one Wednesday, called Toq. Google is working on
Google Glass – a device designed to work like a smartphone and worn like a
pair of
glasses. Apple is also expected to unveil an iWatch.

Fashion or function?
Samsung jumped ahead of its rivals and has a chance to test the market for
wearable technology with the release, says Ross Miller, editor of The Verge.
“This device is a little pricey for a lot of people right now, but I think
next year we’ll see a serious market for wearable technology,” Miller told
CBC’s Lang
O’Leary Exchange.

He doesn’t expect the smartwatch to replace the cellphone, but to become a
fashion accessory.
“Early on you’re going to see a lot devices that err on the side of
function, but fashion is going to be a big deal in terms of making a bigger
market, he
said.
Mistry demonstrated the calling function on the Gear by holding it up to his
ear and talking into a microphone hidden in the watch. The watch then relays
the
call to a smartphone linked to it wirelessly over a built-in Bluetooth
connection.

The Gear will be compatible initially with two Samsung products also
unveiled Wednesday – the Galaxy Note III, which is a smartphone with a giant
5.7-inch
screen and a digital pen, and the Galaxy Tab 10.1, a tablet computer with a
10.1-inch screen comparable to Apple’s full-sized iPad. But Samsung promised
to
update other Galaxy phones and tablets to work with the Gear in future.

1-day battery charge
The number of apps that work with the Gear is still limited. More than 70
are currently supported, including FaceBook, Twitter and RunKeeper.
Unlike normal watches that can happily tick away for years on end, Samsung
only promises a full day’s use out of the Gear before it has to be charged.

The Gear goes on sale in most countries Sept. 25, with prices starting at
$299 US. That is about twice the price of currently available devices such
as the
Sony SmartWatch and the Pebble, which was funded through more than $10
million pledged by individuals on fundraising website Kickstarter.

The Associated Press, 2013

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