CES 2015: Audi and LG announce a smartwatch that controls your car

lg-mystery-watchA watch that controls your car may sound very James Bond, but it has become a reality thanks to a collaboration between Audi and LG.

The new wearable was announced yesterday at Audi’s CES presentation, much to the surprise of those in attendance.

The company teased the audience by keeping details to a minimum but what they did reveal was impressive. The presentation kicked off with Audi board member, Ulrich Hackenberg summoning a self driving Audi Prologue on stage using his stylish looking watch.

audi-prologue-piloted-driving-concept-2015-consumer-electronics-show_100495798_mIt’s believed that the smartwatch will also be able to lock and unlock the car, control the engine, temperature and windows etc, and possibly even park the car for you. While the exact functions are yet to be confirmed, what has been established is that that the watch will run a version of Android Wear, and use NFC (near field communication) so it will work even when the watch battery is dead.

It’s also still not clear whether or not the watch is going to become a consumer product any time soon, or just used for demo purposes, although we really hope it’s the former!

Are you excited by the prospect of a smartwatch that can control your car?

Apple Watch finally unveiled

apple_watch_event_tim_cook_apple_apIt’s been a long time coming but Apple finally unveiled its smartwatch on Tuesday alongside the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

The biggest surprise was probably the name, which most had, understandably, assumed would be the iWatch. Instead Apple decided to come up with something completely original and call it the Apple Watch.

As you’d expect from Apple, it’s as smart in design as it is in function. It comes in two different sizes (38mm and 42mm in height) with three different style collections: ‘Apple Watch’, ‘Apple Watch Sport’ and a premium collection, ‘Apple Watch Edition’. Between the collections there are a total of eleven different faces to choose from, including Stainless Steel, Space Grey Aluminium and 18 Carat Gold. There’s also a wide range of straps and even more display options to personalise your watch further still.

In addition to a button on the side, the watch face has a little knob that looks like the one that was used to wind up and set the time on old school watches. Apple has called this the ‘digital crown’ and it’s used to scroll, zoom in and out and is also the home button.

The Apple Watch is compatible with iPhone 5 onwards, and in addition to the standard communication features that you’d expect from a smartwatch (receiving calls, texts and displaying notifications from social media) the Apple Watch also has a walkie talkie feature for sending short voice messages as well as a tapping feature to subtly get someone’s attention and an animated emoji for those who prefer to communicate that way!

Apple WatchYou can use the watch to access and control iTunes, iTunes radio and Apple TV, and Siri’s on there too for you to ask questions, dictate messages and ask directions via the maps feature. Like the new iPhones, the watch also features Apple Pay.

It also functions well as a fitness monitor and has an accelerometer to measure activity as well as a heart rate sensor on the back of the watch face. These sensors feed information to the Apple Health app to analyse your performance and fitness levels.

Apple Watch also comes with a developer tool called WatchKit, which allows developers to create third party apps, so we can expect a plethora of apps for it when it goes on sale next year.

What do you think of the Apple Watch? Will you buy one?

Google’s first Android Wear smartwatches go on sale

LG G Watch
LG G Watch

One of several announcements made by Google at its annual I/O developers conference yesterday was news that the first smartwatches powered by its Android Wear operating system have finally gone on sale.

The Samsung Gear Live and LG G Watch are now available to pre-order through Google Play, with shipping expected on 7 July. Those who’ve been holding out for the eagerly awaited Motorola 360, which also runs Android Wear, will have to wait until “later this summer” for it to go on sale.

With its new smartwatch-specific operating system, Google hopes to make Android Wear the ‘go-to’ platform for developers. Analysts believe that part of the reason that smartwatches have failed to take off thus far is due lack of decent apps. However, it’s thought that a standardised platform such as Android Wear will encourage the development of better integrated, more sophisticated and widely used apps.

Another factor that’s deemed to be crucial to the success of smartwatches is the ability for them to be used as passively as possible. This is something that Google has focused on with Android Wear. The user interface is based around Google Now cards, which can be easily navigated using swipe, and press and hold gestures. Voice commands are also an integral feature.

Samsung Gear Live

The £145 LG G Watch measures 37.9 x 46.5 x 9.95mm, weighs 63 grams, and is available in Black Titan and White Gold. Other specifications include a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor; always-on 1.65-inch IPS (280×280 pixels) display; 4GB of built-in storage; 512MB of RAM; 400mAh battery; Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity; and a 9-axis sensor. It is also dust and water resistant for up to 30 minutes in 1 metre of water.

The Samsung Gear Live costs £118 and looks very similar to the Gear 2 smartwatch that was released earlier in the year. It measures 37.9 x 56.4 x 8.9mm, weighs 59 grams, and has a 1.63-inch Super AMOLED (320×320 pixels) display. It also features a 1.2GHz processor; 512MB off RAM; 4GB of inbuilt storage; Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity; 300mAh battery; heart rate monitor and a range of other sensors including accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass.

Both smartwatches are compatible with smartphones running Android 4.3 or above.

What do you think of Google’s Android Wear and the new smartwatches running it?

Turn your existing watch into a smartwatch with a Glance

Glance-Smartwatch-TransformerWith the smartwatch market set to grow even more in the coming months thanks to hotly anticipated arrivals from Apple and Google, a Toronto based start up is aiming to offer an alternative with a clever little device that allows you to transform your existing wrist watch into a smartwatch.

Glance from Kiwi Wearables is essentially a standalone smartwatch face that can be tucked under any tightly fitting wristband.

As with existing smartwatches on the market, Glance will notify users of incoming calls, texts and emails that are being received by their smartphone. It will also offer the ability to respond to texts at the touch of a button with pre-programmed messages. It includes a 3D motion sensor to track users’ activity, and can be used to control a smart TV or computer with motion gestures. Its Lithium Polymer battery will give it around a week’s worth of battery life with one charge and it will also be waterproof to 5 ATM.

Glance2-300x196Initially Glance will be compatible with Android and iOS devices but the creators aim to eventually extend that to BlackBerry and Windows Phone. It will be available in three sizes and come with a plain leather strap.

Glance is currently seeking backing on Kickstarter and at the time of publication had reached $50,000 of its $150,000 goal with 16 days to go.

With a price tag of only £40, if successful, Glance could offer the perfect solution for those keen to keen to test the waters of wearable tech without having to swap their favourite watch or bracelet for a chunky smartwatch.

Over to you…

What do you think of Glance?

LG releases more information on the G Watch on new website

LG-G-Watch_mainLG has just released more information on its upcoming smartwatch, the G Watch, on a new dedicated website

The G Watch was first announced in March alongside Google’s Android Wear, and will be one of several smartwatches to use the new wearables-specific version of the operating system.

Initial details on the new smartwatch were sparse but the new website has unveiled the following details:

Permanently switched on

Unlike other smartwatches that sit on standby until ‘woken up’, the G Watch will be permanently switched on – a feature which calls into question its battery life.

Water and dust resistant

Like it’s rivals, the Samsung Galaxy Gear 2 and Sony Smartwatch 2, the G Watch will be water and dust resistant.

G WatchWill come in two colours

The G Watch will come in ‘champagne gold’ as well as the previously advertised ‘stealth black’. 

The company is yet to confirm a retail price and release date but it’s expected to go on sale in July, in the region of £180.

Over to you…

Do you think the G Watch will be a contender in the increasingly crowded smartwatch market?

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