Mobile // Mobile Devices
News
9/4/2013
08:26 AM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Samsung Sets Smartwatch Tone With Galaxy Gear

Samsung's new smartwatch, with camera and speakerphone, does more than just interact with smartphones.

Apple iWatch Vs. Smartwatches Past And Present
Apple iWatch Vs. Smartwatches Past And Present
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Samsung Wednesday announced the Galaxy Gear smartwatch, a device that offers a few unique features that should set the pace for which smartwatches are and are not moving forward.

The device, which is an accessory for the Galaxy Note 3, is made mostly from plastic, but has a metallic face and comes in six different colors. The shades include black, beige, gray, green, orange and gold. The face measures 1.63 inches diagonally and has 320 by 320 pixels. It has an 800-MHz processor with 512 MB of RAM and 4 GB of storage for photos and other content. It uses Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy to connect to smartphones and also includes an accelerometer and a gyroscope. Samsung says the 315-mAh battery provides enough juice to last a full 24 hours with use.

Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch

Some of the surprising features include a 1.9-megapixel camera baked into the band that can also record 720p HD video and a speakerphone. The camera might not offer the best quality in the world, but it's a last resort for those can't-miss opportunities that sneak up every now and again. The speakerphone is just loud enough to make using the Gear for phone calls a worthwhile endeavor, but don't expect it to replace your conference room's Polycom unit any time soon.

[ How connected will future vehicles be? Read 5 Ways Big Data Can Improve Your Car. ]

The Galaxy Gear does not have Wi-Fi, nor an independent connection to the Internet. Similar to Sony's SmartWatch, it relies on a nearby smartphone for most of its functionality. This is perhaps its greatest strength and greatest limitation. For starters, the Gear will only work with the Note 3 smartphone. Samsung said it hopes to offer connectivity with other Galaxy smartphones later this year. Though the Gear has plenty of its own apps, it can't be used as a stand-alone music player. In fact, if you want to listen to music, you'll have to do so with Bluetooth headphones, as the Gear doesn't have a headphone jack.

The Gear runs on Google's Android operating system, but you wouldn't know it to look at it. The interface has been stripped down so it can easily be used with one finger by those on the go. It offers a handful of clock faces that also show the weather, and uses swiping gestures to get from screen to screen and app to app. There's a single button that will take users back to the home screen if they get lost or want to exit out of an app.

Speaking of apps, the Gear runs plenty of them. It includes a handful of simple tools, such as a stopwatch, music player controls and pedometer, as well as more advanced functions. The Gear has rich notifications that automatically interact with the Note 3 smartphone, and it can be used to dial phone calls directly rather than using the Note 3. It interacts with S Voice, Samsung's voice-command and search tool, and can also be used to find a lost Note 3 smartphone (and vice versa with the companion smartphone app). In addition to these apps, it comes with a handful of third-party apps from Evernote, eBay, MyFitnessPal, Path, RunKeeper and Tripit. Samsung says more apps are on the way.

The Galaxy Gear is a capable device and sets the bar for what smartwatches can do. The camera and speakerphone are nice surprises that amplify the expected feature set of notifications, music player and exercise controls. Samsung hasn't said exactly when the Gear smartwatch will go on sale or how much it will cost. The company did say that it will be available in the U.S. before the end of the year.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Laurianne
50%
50%
Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
9/9/2013 | 5:44:16 PM
re: Samsung Sets Smartwatch Tone With Galaxy Gear
Good point, Tom. One wonders what the iPhone equivalent add on would be -- or if Apple will go for a standalone smartwatch device.
Kelly22
50%
50%
Kelly22,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/5/2013 | 4:12:05 PM
re: Samsung Sets Smartwatch Tone With Galaxy Gear
I think the Gear definitely has less of a "creepy" factor and is more appealing than Glass (though I'm not sure it's ready for Vogue just yet). I agree with Thomas on the smartphone compatibility. I was much more intrigued by the Gear before I found out that much of its functionality depends on the Galaxy Note 3. If people want to use the Gear, they have to buy/upgrade a smartphone to do so.
David F. Carr
50%
50%
David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
9/4/2013 | 10:30:07 PM
re: Samsung Sets Smartwatch Tone With Galaxy Gear
Designers must have had Dick Tracy in mind
Thomas Claburn
50%
50%
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
9/4/2013 | 8:58:53 PM
re: Samsung Sets Smartwatch Tone With Galaxy Gear
They aren't as obvious as Glass, but they seem to be even less potentially useful. Both Glass and Gear piggyback on smartphones. That's not transformational. It's just trying to squeeze a bit more money out of a smartphone buyer through the sale of accessories.
Laurianne
50%
50%
Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
9/4/2013 | 7:47:59 PM
re: Samsung Sets Smartwatch Tone With Galaxy Gear
I hadn't envisioned a speakerphone option on a smartphone watch. That does make sense, but my smartphone already has a pretty good speakerphone function. Vogue just did a fashion spread including Google Glass. Will smartwatches be next? Do you think they have less of a "creepy" factor than some people perceive with Glass?
Alex Kane Rudansky
50%
50%
Alex Kane Rudansky,
User Rank: Author
9/4/2013 | 7:15:03 PM
re: Samsung Sets Smartwatch Tone With Galaxy Gear
I think this is a step in the right direction in terms of where wearable technology is headed. It might not be the prettiest watch on the block, but it's certainly more visually acceptable than Glass. Is there a comparison here? Or are the two so different in functionality that there's no argument for comparing them?
Aden11
50%
50%
Aden11,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/4/2013 | 7:11:03 PM
re: Samsung Sets Smartwatch Tone With Galaxy Gear
Hardware doesn't look impressive. These 4 screws on the corners looks cheap. Overall design is NOT very appealing. I think Qualcomm offered a better design than Mr. Sammy. From a user point of view I am still not convinced to pay $300 plus tax on a watch which is not offering me something unique. Looks like the main objective of Samsung (just like their 10,000 type of galaxy phones with 10,000 sizes) is to be the first in market doesn't matter if it is a half-baked product.

Let's say I have this watch on my wrist and phone in my pocket. In case of any new notification, which device I should check first ? Phone or watch? Samsung needs to offer something different, something more productive and unique than this watch to convince people to buy it.
RobertD983
50%
50%
RobertD983,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/4/2013 | 6:51:32 PM
re: Samsung Sets Smartwatch Tone With Galaxy Gear
Not Impressed. For the same $300, you can get an Omate TrueSmart when it comes out in November, with: a Bigger Battery (600mah vs 350), dual core CPU, IP67 Water Resistance (I haven't seen anything about that on the Galaxy Gear). And it works as a companion with more than just one smartphone. And it can work as a stand-alone device as well You can even save $100 by getting in on the Kickstarter now: http://www.kickstarter.com/pro...
Building A Mobile Business Mindset
Building A Mobile Business Mindset
Among 688 respondents, 46% have deployed mobile apps, with an additional 24% planning to in the next year. Soon all apps will look like mobile apps – and it's past time for those with no plans to get cracking.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest September 18, 2014
Enterprise social network success starts and ends with integration. Here's how to finally make collaboration click.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.