Smartwatches have been around for the better part of a year perhaps more, but as of this year we are just starting to see some really interesting concepts and they’re really starting to come into their own. With early smartwatch options like the Martian Watch, the Pebble, the Sony Smartwatch, Galaxy Gear and others, we saw some interesting things but they weren’t quite compelling enough to grab the majority of users that currently own smartphones. There were some early adopters sure, but the majority of people that could use a smartwatch with an existing device have held off. Maybe it was just the lack of features for some, for others the lack of compatibility with their current device, others may have simply not liked the design but were OK with what features were offered at the time. This year aims to be quite different, with loads of new options coming to the table and really giving users much more choice than they might have imagined only a year later. Then again, technology moves fast so there were most likely a decent amount of people that saw the smartwatch boom happening this year. There are tons of smartwatches to come from lots of vendors, many of which we saw or at least heard of at CES, but the ones to focus on here will be the major players so to speak. That doesn’t mean other smaller brands aren’t worth mentioning, they just won’t be a focus here in this article.
We saw last years most popular smartwatch, the Galaxy Gear, and while it wasn’t what everyone was hoping for, this year’s versions-the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo-prove to be a step up from the last. Samsung added a home button to the Gear 2 so you can easily move back to the main home screen, instead of having to swipe all the way back like you did with the Galaxy Gear. The Gear 2 also has the heart rate monitor built in so for those who want to monitor that type of information they can. Improvements have also been made to the band, allowing for a more easily customizable experience with the band segment of the watch so users can swap out the colors or replace the band easily of they need to. The Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo also have multiple color options available for users, which is a big plus for some. For all the Gear 2’s vast improvements over the original though, there is still one blinding drawback for many users, which at this point in time is still its lack of compatibility. Samsung has upped the number of devices that support a link to the Gear 2, but compatibility is still limited to Samsung only devices. At least for now. There is talk that Samsung could open up more support to non-Samsung device for the Gear 2, and Gear 2 Neo, but nothing has been made official as of yet. Samsung is also on the list of OEMs that is said to be making an Android Wear based smartwatch for the year, which could be what Samsung’s intentions were for providing users with non-Samsung device support for their smartwatches.
That brings us to our next major offering, the LG G Watch, which was the first Android Wear smartwatch announced but it wasn’t the last. The LG G Watch is one of the most exciting smartwatches to date for many simply because of the fact it has a vastly more open compatibility than the Gear 2. It uses Android Wear as its base for the software, which is kind of like Google Now in an OS form, providing information to the user in the same form of Google Now type cards that you can swipe out of the way. The G Watch has a more square form factor than the Gear 2, and it only offers up two color choices-Stealth Black and Champagne Gold-but has arguably more voice functionality since it’s driven by Google’s voice and search technology. It should come in at a similar price range to the Gear 2 which is $299-going off the exchange rate for the G Watch which is said to be £180 in the U.K.-so for those looking for the cheapest option this might not be it. There aren’t that many details on the G Watch just yet, minus the UI it’s using, and what we can glean from the images like the charging pins on the back that suggest it will charge on a dock or a cradle of some sort.
The third major option is the second Android Wear smartwatch and might just be the most popular smartwatch to come out this year, the Moto 360. There are many reason that it has garnered so much attention but for the most part the biggest reason are probably its different design and the amount of foreseeable options that it promises to bring in the customization department. The Moto 360 has a more natural design with a round watch face compared to the myriad of square shaped smartwatches out there, which is one huge thing that caught many people’s attention. The other design aspect that has people excited is the use of premium quality materials, like fine leathers and a brushed metal housing for the face, and rumors of sapphire glass as the top layer of the face to protect the display underneath, which is said to be OLED for the power efficiency and vibrant colors. We also know that the Moto 360 will charge wirelessly in some way, although exactly how users will achieve the goal of juicing up their devices is still unknown, as Motorola has kept quiet on the specifics and only let on that there is indeed no charging port on the device at all. Along with the price(which is also still unknown but rumors seem to have been suggesting a possible $500 range, although that seems a bit high if they want to compete with other options)the charging method might just be one of the more intriguing bits that we have yet to find out.
The last major competitor coming into the smartwatch sector this year that we’ll be focusing on is the ASUS smartwatch, which we actually know the absolute least about. We know that it’s coming, as ASUS CEO Johnny Shih has mentioned in the recent past that they will be entering into the market and that they will be aiming to provide a first rate product. Other than the fact that we know ASUS is going to be delivering a smartwatch this year, we really only know of one other thing which is the rumor that it will be supporting multiple types of voice and gesture controls to complete commands and tasks. So far we haven’t seen anything as far as design goes-not even renders or leaks of any kind- but just knowing ASUS is bringing something to the table is exciting enough to keep us interested and keep our ears to the ground waiting for more details.
There are plenty of other options for smartwatches that will be coming out this year, those that were focused on here are just the ones from bigger and more well known manufacturers, thus getting more attention than most. Are you captivated by the Gear 2 or are you hooked on the LG G Watch or Moto 360? Are you interested in any of the options, or holding out for something we haven’t heard of yet? I am tempted to grab a smartwatch for myself, but I will personally be waiting on the Android Wear options.