IFA 2014 was the location for yet more high tech announcements as Sony got in the game. Among the new products from Sony are the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact (billed as the world’s slimmest and lightest compact tablet), new smartphones led by the new Xperia Z3 flagship, a new Android Wear-powered Smartwatch 3 and the SmartBand Talk fitness tracker.
Sometimes two products work together so well that they mesh into an extension of one another and become that much better than either is on its own. Each might be pretty cool, but together, they becomes something special. That’s the case with Samsung’s Galaxy S5 smartphone and its Galaxy Fit fitness band. I had a week to try out these Samsung flagship devices and came away impressed with how well the two combine into what’s currently one of the best experiences out there for someone with an active, connected lifestyle.
Yesterday, Google held a three hour-long keynote at its I/O 2014 developer conference. We posted the run-down so you wouldn’t have to watch the entire thing. While some of the presentation like Cloud Debugging was a little dry (unless you happen to be a developer in the cloud app business), one section stood out: Android Wear. We’ve heard about this Android for smartwatches before of course, but at Google I/O 2014 we saw the system in action and even better, saw some of those amazing Android Wear devices that have been hinted at. The LG G watch in particular got substantial stage time. Android Wear is real, it looks fantastic and it’s coming soon!
Every year Google holds a conference aimed at its developer community. Every year a preview of the latest version of its Android mobile operating system is shown and sometimes there are some surprise appearances —like the public debut of Google Glass at I/O 2012. This year, a wicked fast and new-look Android was revealed (it’s “L” for now, with no sweet-themed name attached), Android Auto was announced for connected cars, Google Fit confirmed the rumours Google is interested in your health, Android Wear showed off awesome new smartwatches from LG and Samsung while Android TV is another crack at conquering your living room. Basically, the theme was Android everywhere. Here’s what you need to know from Google I/O 2014.
It began with a Kickstarter campaign in 2012 that successfully brought in over $300K in funding from more than 1,700 backers. Since then, it has become a major competitor in the emerging smart watch market. I’m talking about the MetaWatch STRATA, and I recently had an opportunity to take one for a test drive.
Right out of the gate, there are 3 things to really like about the LifeTrak Zone C410 fitness tracker – it tracks your activity level and gives you detailed and useful fitness information, it measures your heart rate just by touching it, and it’s one of the easiest to use fitness trackers I’ve ever tried. It does what it sets out to do and it does it so simply that anyone, even people who find fitness watches and fitness trackers complicated, can pick up and use the device within minutes.
This stylish wearable with the retro analog look is a smartwatch in disguise that supports notifications and lets you issue voice commands to Siri or Google Now. You can also place and answer voice calls on a Martian, making it an excellent choice for those who want to keep their smartphone discretely out of sight. Look for Martian smartwatches to invade Best Buy any day now.
Remember the Pebble smartwatch? The wearable with the innovative and power saving e-paper display, the CES 2013 star and Kickstarter record setter? The one that now has its own appstore and has become a market leader with over 300,000 sold? Well, the Pebble is still very cool, very cutting edge and very popular. But it’s being joined by a new edition, the Pebble Steel. If you wanted the original Pebble but thought it was maybe just a little too funky to fit in with your business look, you’ll love the Pebble Steel with its more refined stainless steel case and thin profile look. Watch for the all new Pebble Steel soon at Best Buy.
If there was any doubt that this would be the year that smartwatches and other wearable technology hits the mainstream, look no further than Best Buy, where you’ll find best-sellers like the Pebble smartwatch alongside the latest generation of Samsung’s wearable tech –the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo. Soon some new entries will be joining these: the Cookoo and Cogito. Choice is good and these new models offer a new take on the traditional smartwatch form factor as well as a more affordable option for those who want to take the plunge into wearable technology without a large investment. I just spent a week with a Cookoo smartwatch and you can read my review here.