After the launch of the much-hyped iPad 3 and a good dose of iPhone 5 rumours, if there’s one thing that’s still a well-kept secret at the Cupertino-based Apple, it’s the timing (pun unintended) of the launch of its smart watch – the iWatch.
According to iwatchrumours.com, the iWatch is currently under development and set for a launch in May 2012.
Now this is no secret that Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief architect, had the watch among his to-do list. It is part of legend now that, while launching the iPad Nano in 2010, Jobs famously remarked that a member of Apple’s then board was keen on finding a way to strap the device around his wrist and use it as a watch.
In 2010, Apple introduced the iWatch concept, designed by an Italian design house ADR Studio, sparking a huge interest among its fans and competitors.
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While it’s been almost two years since then, with nothing more on that front from Apple, Jobs’ remark and the subsequent talk about the concept actually gave birth to a cottage industry of watchband makers that have been creating a host of multi-coloured bands that help strap the Nano to the wrist.
What’s more, taking things to the next level, some of Apple’s old and new rivals have taken the lead in coming out with a smart watch. Case in point is Sony, which earlier this month unveiled an Android-powered watch with its very own apps.
The watch, obviously, syncs with any Android phone and vibrates for received text messages, phone calls and emails. And if you’re too busy to take your smartphone out of your pocket, the watch even display messages on its 1.42-by-1.42-inch screen.
But let’s face it – the watch isn’t the best looking in town, and there are a host of others in the market today that offer the same level of sync, including ones that connect with Apple’s iOS.
One such device that will offer dual connectivity (to both the iOS and Android platforms) is the Pebble which, in fact, has already managed to raise a neat $6.44 million in funding pledges on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter from 43,771 backers (and counting) who’d like to see the technology become commercially viable and available.
Then there are offerings from Fossil and something called I’m Watch, which claims to be the world’s first real smartwatch.
So when (not if) Apple launches its iWatch, it will be in competition with these and no doubt numerous others that will precede and follow the Apple device.
Will it be better than those? You bet. Why? Glad you asked.
For starters, let’s look at history – Apple wasn’t the first to launch a smartphone, but sales of iPhones have put all other smartphones to shame. Neither was it the first to launch a tablet, and you know what’s happening with the iPad 3 sales figures.
In addition to being water resistant, the new iWatch is going to be undergoing changes to its display. Somewhat akin to the displays seen in the Iron Man, the displays are rumoured to be possibly less than a cm thick. Not only that, but the iWatch displays will be bright, perhaps a retina display. And like everything Apple, the iWatch will come in two colors – black and white.
So far, Apple has been using the Nano as a pseudo smart watch, and not doing badly in the segment. But with the competition ratcheting up the performance of its devices, it may not be long before Apple ups the game, again, in the smart watch segment as well, just as it has done in the smartphone and tablet PC segments.
Till date, Apple has sold nearly 200 million iPhones, yet hasn’t unveiled an assistant to provide wristy support to its customers.
The million-dollar-question, then, is when will Apple come out with its game-changing smart watch? With Apple’s track record of unveiling a game-changer every season, the tech giant may be looking to launch the watch as soon as next month. Watch this space.
Smartphones get smarter in 2012
For the true mobile addict, there is a new gadget that will instantly alert you to an incoming SMS message with a micro vibration in the wrist. This Sony Smartwatch is connected to a mobile phone. It is expected to go on sale this year for about 120 euros.
"And you can even launch the camera from your watch."
At The World Mobile Congress in Barcelona around 60,000 people are gathering to sample the very latest in mobile technology.
One of the most eagerly awaited gadgets is the Padphone made by Taiwanese manufacturer Asus. It is a smartphone that can be slotted into a bigger shell to become a tablet computer, which in turn can be transformed into a laptop.
"This is not just a stylus actually it's a headset so you can answer if someone calls you use it to say Hello, this is John."
Useful on the beach, this Panasonic mobile can withstand an hour underwater.
And in this Ford car, you can dictate an SMS without taking your hands off the wheel.
Several brands, such as Chinese manufacturer Huawei and South Korean giant LG have also launched high-performance smart phones, twice as fast as the market average.
"I think this is a nice product but for me the screen is too small. I need a big one because I use this as a reader. This one is too small"
Amid all the ultra hi-tech, Emporia has spared a thought for older users.
Easy to handle with big buttons, these mobiles for grandparents also have an emergency call button.
Android-powered watches get Internet savvy
The Internet was strapped to wrists at the Consumer Electronics Show on Wednesday in the form of Android-powered "smart watches" that serve up online content along with telling time.
Japanese consumer electronics titan Sony and venture-backed Italian startup i'm Watch were each sporting spins on timepieces that use the Google software to connect wearers with email, music, websites or other online content.
Sony's SmartWatch was promised by the end of March while i'm Watch was released at CES.
"This is the right period for the watch," i'm Watch chief executive and co-founder Massimiliano Bertolini told AFP at the company's booth on the show floor.
"Everybody wants to have technology that is also fashion," he continued. "That is the Apple secret; making devices that people fall in love with."
For some time now California-based Apple has been letting iPod Nano owners turn the small, square devices into Internet-connected watches complete with wrist straps.
I'm Watch ranges in price from $350 for colorful models with silicon wrist bands and aluminum-cased touchscreens to $15,000 for one made of pink gold and adorned with diamonds, according to company designer Gianluca Negrello.
Wearers are alerted to new Gmail messages or fresh posts at online communities Facebook or Twitter and can access digital photo albums or free Google Web-based services such as Calendar.
Messages can't be sent from touch-screen i'm Watch, which can connect to their own online shop for applications or music. People can make phone calls using i'm Watch, which links wirelessly to smartphones.
Sony said at CES that by the end of March it will release a touch-display SmartWatch capable of connecting to mobile phones wirelessly using Bluetooth capabilities.
Applications will be tailored for SmartWatch, which will be priced at $149.
SmartWatch devices being sported by workers at the Sony booth were tethered wirelessly to Android-powered Xperia smartphone models the company unveiled at the show.