Smartwatches will be everywhere this year. With Google announcing Android Wear and companies already showing off devices at CES and Mobile World Congress, it won’t be long before a slew of smartwatches are sitting on store shelves.
Of course, smartwatches are already available. In fact, several companies, from Samsung to Pebble, have offered their interpretation of wrist-worn wearables. The trouble for those firms, however, is that so far, those products haven’t taken off. And it’s unclear whether even Android Wear could go a long way in pushing smartwatches onto more wrists.
ASUS' upcoming wearable will use hands-free movements or voice commands for remotely interacting with a smartphone, company chairman Jonney Shih has teased, blaming small display sizes for requiring alternative methods of control. Shih had confirmed ASUS would launch a wearable device - expected to be a smartwatch like Pebble or Samsung's Gear 2 - sometime this year while back at a company event in late January, though was tight-lipped about functionality.
This week Pebble 2.0 has launched for Android in full after a brief Beta period which was in full play as recent as earlier this week. This version of the Pebble app will bring on a full-fledged look at the Pebble browser for apps and watch faces, including all compatible software connections to Pebble 2.0 and firmware version 2.0.1. This app also adds the ability to troubleshoot issue and make suggestions to the Pebble crew straight from the software itself.
Google is targeting a March release for its own smartwatch, a Bluetooth LE wearable designed to work alongside an Android smartphone, though insiders on the project are reportedly pessimistic that the current timescale is realistic. Google has already pared back on the complexity of the design it's said, switching from a metal strap to a plastic one, but even so there's a strong possibility that the ship date could slip to June 2014 or see Google launch the gadget with even fewer features than initially intended.
Wearable tech will break the consumer market in 2014 after the segment was buoyed in 2013 by fitness-tracking bands, one research firm has predicted, though smartwatches are expected to cannibalize more basic models from Fitbit and Jawbone. The "smart band" segment made up of smartwatches from manufacturers like Samsung, Sony, and Pebble will reach around 8m shipments in 2014, Canalys suggests, estimating that figure will rise to more than 23m units by 2015, and in excess of 45m units by 2017.
As promised, Pebble rolled out an app store for its iPhone users earlier today, and Android users were left asking for info about when their own would surface. Fortunately, the wait was less than a day, with Pebble announcing a beta version of its appstore for Android -- a few bugs notwithstanding.
Pebble will launch its appstore on Monday, February 3rd, the smartwatch company has announced today. The download store, which we tried in beta with the new Pebble Steel, will go live at 10AM PT, and give Pebble's growing developer community a centralized place to offer their apps and their custom watchfaces.
Pebble might not agree that 2014 is set to be the year of wearables: the smartwatch startup closed out last year with one of the most compelling devices in its category, taking the original Pebble from Kickstarter hit to shipping product and finally developer's darling. Now there's a second version, Pebble Steel, on sale alongside the first smartwatch for those who want a little more bling with their wrist-mounted apps. With high-spec alternatives like Samsung's Galaxy Gear, and the constant chatter of an Apple iWatch on the horizon, you could've forgiven Pebble for going all-out with the spec list, but in fact Pebble Steel shows surprising restraint. Method or madness? Read on for the full SlashGear review.