Sony is no stranger to the SmartWatch Game, in fact it was actually one of the pioneers in wearable computing with their Sony LiveView Watch. Aside from owning every (released) Sony SmartWatch, I was also able to spend a few minutes with the (unreleased) Sony SmartWatch 2 last month at XDA-Developer's DevCon 2013. This article will take you through the last few years of Sony Smart Watches and what to expect from the SmartWatch 2 that is expected to go on sales later this month.
2010 – Sony LiveView Watch
In September of 2010, Sony Ericsson unveiled the LiveView Watch to a growing world of Android fans. The LiveView was designed to be a 1.3 inch colored companion screen for your phone. This lightweight watch paired to any phone running Android 2.0 (Eclair) or higher as this was the first Android iteration with a functional bluetooth API. The watch was charged via a standard MicroUSB connection and would typically need a charge every 2-3 days.
The watch lacked a true touchscreen but made up for it with four capacitive edges on the bezel. Navigation was done with an awkward set of gestures and edge taps. The Watch would display a collection of RSS news feeds, SMS messages and Social Messages. As the watch was mainly designed as an external notification device, it lacked the ability to allow users to truly interact with the phone via the watch. Unfortunately the largest flaw with the Xperia smartwatch is that it was completely useless without an active bluetooth connection to your phone.
2012 – Sony Xperia SmartWatch
Aside from Sony dropping the Ericsson moniker, it also released the Sony SmartWatch which was designed to replace their aging LiveView Smartwatch. The new Smartwatch removed much of the bulk of the LiveView and Sony made the Smartwatch water-resistant (not waterproof). In order to achieve the thinner profile, Sony removed the MicroUSB charging port and replaced it with a four pin clip on port. The clip on port may have seemed like an improvement but after a few days of use, constant cleaning of the charging port was mandatory to allow the watch to charge.
Unlike the LiveView, the capacitive edges and gestures were replaced with a full capacitive screen. The only gestures that are needed to use the watch were an intuitive "double tap" to wake up the screen as well as a full screen downward swipe to close the running application. Thanks to the improved touchscreen, developers were free to create applications that allowed for greater user interaction.
2013 – Sony Xperia SmartWatch 2
At the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Sony announced the successor to the Xperia Smartwatch simply known as the Smartwatch 2. Sony decided to increase the screen size to a full 1.6 inch display and replaced the loathed 4 pin charging port with a standard MicroUSB charging port. Sony also added One-Tap Bluetooth pairing via NFC. Sony opted for a full Transflective display to improve visibility in low light conditions. The watch is now fully waterproof which should allow the watch to survive brief dunks in water. We still would not advise you to go swimming with any of your devices. Sony also added 3 capacitive navigation buttons to the watch face to allow applications to take full advantage of that screen. There is also a very noticeable improvement in the build quality.
Unfortunately I was not able to personally experience the software as the demo unit was running pre-production firmware and was not ready for use. Based on what we have seen in press shots, Sony has completely revamped the home screen to allow it to include widgets. The SmartWatch 2 now has an offline mode to allow it to have access to most of the applications as well as all offline emails when you are more than 20 feet from your phone.
Visual Comparison Chart
While Smartwatches have not become an everyday accessory for everyone, there is a growing number of people who cannot leave their house without theirs. I can personally include myself into this group.