back to article Sony unveils latest attempt at an Android SmartWatch

After some heavy-handed hints, Sony has used the Mobile Asia Expo 2013 to show off the latest version of its Android SmartWatch, intended to be the fashion item of choice for the mobile cognoscenti. Sony SmartWatch on a cream suit SmartWatch and a cream suit – double fashion fail "Competitors are only now launching first …

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Big Brother

Aren't Apple about to innovate one of these any year now?

We'll see one as soon as the photocopiers in Cupertino have been replaced - they were worn out after the hammering they got making iOS7. Well, Android ICS has been out for two years now, so that's a hell of a lot of innovatin' to catch up on.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Aren't Apple about to innovate one of these any year now?

Oh come on now, they didn't slavishly copy ICS or JB. If they had copied properly, perhaps it wouldn't look like the garish abomination that it does.

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Re: Aren't Apple about to innovate one of these any year now?

It's not an apple product, doesn't work with ios, but still you need to bash apple. Androitard much?

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Re: Aren't Apple about to innovate one of these any year now?

Aren't Apple about to invent one of these any year now?

Fixed!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Aren't Apple about to innovate one of these any year now?

heh, so true - but personally I'd wait till apple makes one that demonstrates how an ultra small form-factor UI should be done, and then buy whatever google/samsung releases soon after...

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Stop

Runs Android?

Are you sure of that? Isn't this just another slave 'second screen' device for your existing Android phone in your pocket?

(Because if it *does* run Android, I want one. Not if it's just a dumb terminal.)

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Go

Re: Runs Android? - No

From the link:

"Sony SmartWatch 2 is a second screen for your Android smartphone that, as well as enhancing existing phone functionality, offers unique new benefits. Combining form and function in a sleek design, it serves as a multi-functional watch, notifier, Android app interface and phone remote control, all-in-one."

No mention of stainless steel straps either...

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Facepalm

Re: Runs Android? - No

Found the stainless steel, also from the link in the article:

"High quality materials (aluminium body and stainless steel wristband)"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Runs Android?

I'm pretty sure they would engineer a very simple Linux OS for it. You don't want to charge the watch every single day just like your phone.

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WTF?

Re: Runs Android?

And Android shorn of the unnecessary-in-a-watch bits and pieces and a simple, watch-friendly front end grafted on instead would be, er, what exactly?

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Happy

Re: Runs Android? - No

It tells time then?

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WTF?

Re: Runs Android?

Yup - should run Android 4.0 according to the article.

So let's see now ... apparently what has happened is that in the arms race towards ever larger screens, the devices have now grown too large and too cluttered with stuff, and the manufacturers think we may need a remote control for it. So they want us to wear a remote, showing only the basic stuff, such as the time and who's calling on the phone. And they do it by running Android 4.0 on a 220 x 176 pixels screen.

This is really ...

What are they ...

I wanted to end this with something sarcastic, but words fail me.

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"heavy-handed hints"

In the very best tradition of Reg puns, I thought.

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Thumb Down

Work in progress

I have no problem with the concept of wearable tech and I'm sure in time it will get to the point where it's actually stylish and functional, at which point it will become ubiquitous. But at the moment, every time I see a photo of someone wearing these Fisher-Price smart watches, or Google Glass or the like, I mentally caption it "Don't worry Ma'am - I'm from the Internet".

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Re: Work in progress

They do just tend to look like small phones tied to your wrist right now. I do quite like the styling of the Pebble, but it was just too large for me to properly consider.

Plus, apart from during exercise, I still don't know what I'd use one for...

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Re: Work in progress

>I have no problem with the concept of wearable tech and I'm sure in time it will get to the point where it's actually stylish and functional, at which point it will become ubiquitous.

Terry - take a look at the Citizen Bluetooth watch. It resembles many other 'chronometer' watches.

It doesn't have a alpha-numeric display, but uses vibration and then the second-hand to indicate what message has come to the phone. One could imagine a more advanced version that uses the second-hand to guide the wearer towards GPS waypoints, for example.

http://www.wired.com/reviews/2013/02/citizen-eco-drive-proximity/

Apparently it has similar disconnection issues to the first Sony smartwatch, though.

The latest Android update bought in Bluetooth Low Energy support - though only a handful of Android handsets have the hardware at the moment - bringing it in line with iOS and Win Pho 8.

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So just an upgrade, I think Sony needed more innovation if it was to remain competitive, we shall see what the likes of Google, Apple, Samsung come out with in the next few months but it seem like the market for smart watches is still wide open for the taking.

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Go

KREYOS: Smartwatch With Voice & Gesture Control

Here is another one. http://igg.me/at/kreyos/x/2367927

" KREYOS: Smartwatch With Voice & Gesture Control".

Similar to Pebble. and I am sure a lot less than the Sony. They have new campaign on indiegogo and have made over $165,000 in less than 2 days.

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Coat

Re: KREYOS: Smartwatch With Voice & Gesture Control

I fear that having been on the Net from day one doesn't combine well with an overdeveloped sense of humour - "Gesture control" on a wrist mounted device?

Mine's the one with the shake-to-charge torch, thanks.

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3rd Gen?

I have always considered 3rd generation to be the first "mature" generation of any new tech product category... Especially when taken over 6 years. So I would have expected Sony to come further than they have by now... At least offering a range of products...

However, their sales might suggest lacklustre demand in any case. "half a million" while sounding big by using the "m" word is actually sales spread over 6 years. It equates to only around 90,000 a year or putting it into perspective, less than 250 a day or just over 10 an hour... At that rate, their final parts assembly line could consist of half a dozen Chinese children in a workshop.

Still a price point of $99 without the benefit of carrier discounts, obviously, shows some decent optimisation on the cost front which might be their only remaining advantage once google et. al. enter the fray.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 3rd Gen?

From what I read the 2nd gen SmartWatch was much better than the first gen ... I got a 1st gen one when they were being dumped on Play for £15 when the 2nd gen came out and it lived up to my "well if its no good its only £15" justification. Now the 3rd gen is coming out then maybe the 2nd gen stocks will get ofloaded at some suitably low price point so it can again hit my "its cheap enough to not matter too much if its not very good" price point!

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Meh

I still find it somewhat reassuring to wear a proper watch, with cogs and springs inside. I can't really see the point of this since everything it can do, a phone can do. Many things a phone can do, this can't - so given that most people will want to carry a phone around anyway (and the operating range of their current model is only 10m anyway), why would you pick this over something with a little character?

I'm going to file this under 'just because you can...'

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Linux

I sort of agree.

But, at some stage in the (probably quite near) future, someone will stumble over the killer app for these things, and then we'll all have one.

I've got no idea what that killer app might be, sadly. I would certainly like one that handled world time properly, automatically adjusting for time zone and summer time variables as I travel. But then, I don't travel as much as I used to.

Of course, the killer app is a bit of a moveable feast. For personal computers, it was the spreadsheet. For smartphones, I think you could probably argue that it was Angry Birds. Oh, well...

GJC

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Re: I sort of agree.

"For smartphones, I think you could probably argue that it was Angry Birds."

I'd have said Google Maps was the killer app before Angry Birds was even released.

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Re: Google maps

You're probably right. Certainly I bought an Orbit XDA on the basis of the navigation options.

GJC

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I sort of agree.

Nope. It was the mobile web with multitouch. People wanted mobile Internet and prior to the first iPhone it was pretty awful to use. Zoom buttons and many mobile browsers tried to reformat HTML into a mobile layout (with inevitable bad results)/

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Happy

@system11 - cogs and springs?

Cogs, yes. But the springs were used to (a) give the energy required to drive the watch for a day or so and (b) give the energy to drive the simple harmonic motion oscillator that made it tick. The first, on modern watches, is a battery, and the second is a quartz oscillator. No springs required. Which is why modern watches are so much more reliable - the spring was the item which was most likely to break.

Or are you still wearing a watch that you wind up once a day?

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Re: I sort of agree.

>I've got no idea what that killer app might be, sadly.

How 'killer' that application needs to be (the benefit) depends upon the cost (retail price, appearance, battery life etc) of implementing it.

There are quite a few very useful things a 'connected' watch can do, without even having to boast a pixel-based display. Examples are 'Find my phone', 'warn me when my phone loses contact', 'mute my phone/reject call', ''pause music / skip track'.

Information that can be communicated to the user by means of just a watch hand include: direction of travel, speed, various notifications, minutes to next train etc.

My preference would be for simple 'connected' features included in a conventional, good looking watch.

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Re: @system11 - cogs and springs?

"Or are you still wearing a watch that you wind up once a day?"

No, I wear a mechanical watch that winds itself up :)

http://www.christopherward.co.uk/men/view-all-mens-watches/malvern-collection/c5sck-mk2.html

It's killer app is it ticks at a rate of 8 beats per second and has sapphire exhibition window on the back so you can see it working. Okay, it loses a few seconds a week, but so what.

If I had money to burn I'd have one of their fab Harrison C900s. As accurate as you need. If you want "digital" you can have a C9 Jumping Hour MKII ;)

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Re: @system11 - cogs and springs?

Can't say I've ever had a spring break in a clockwork watch[1]. Usual cause of failure is catastrophic damage from being dropped, immersed in water, etc. Pretty much the same things that kill the quartz varieties, although the clockwork ones are more vulnerable here.

Winding 'em up daily went the way of the Dodo years ago. All the decent ones are automatics.

[1] If that happens, the cause is invariably overwinding. In an even half-decent clockwork watch that should not be possible.

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Re: I sort of agree.

> But, at some stage in the (probably quite near) future, someone will stumble over the killer app for these things, and then we'll all have one.

A student of history already knows what will spur the change to smart watches.

The change from pocket watches to wrist watches occurred when officers in World War I decided it was safer to glance at the wrist to coordinate moves in battle than to be fumbling with a pocket watch ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_timekeeping_devices#Wristwatches ). So, when World War III (or will it be World War Z?) breaks out and officers decide it's safer to glance at the wrist to check their Facebook and Twitter feeds in the middle of a battle, the smart watch will become fashionable.

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Re: @system11 - cogs and springs?

Winding 'em up daily went the way of the Dodo years ago. All the decent ones are automatics.

TimeFactors still make some excellent hand-wind watches. No doubt they are not alone, I'm not affiliated with them, but have been a customer.

For watch collectors the clear cut advantages of hand wound watches are cheaper servicing and no problems getting them going - no need for a watch winder. Some people also say that having to look after a watch makes them like it a bit more. Personally I think they should just get a tamagotchi or something but there you go.

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Re: I sort of agree.

Curious that people claim multitouch as the single most important killer app, whilst criticising large Android phones because you can't use them in one hand.

Tell me, when using your iphone one-handed, how do you using multitouch?

This probably from the same people who told us for years that two mouse buttons was too complicated.

Internet worked fine for me before 2007. The standard way to zoom in or out is to double click, and I still use that method now. The big benefit is having touch - multitouch is only a small improvement on top of that, and a well designed UI should work with singletouch, so you can use it one handed. (E.g., Google Maps has a method where you double click, hold, then slide to zoom in and out - I really wish they'd just make this standard on Android throughout, it's so much easier than the clumsy two fingered "pinch" method.)

Not sure what you mean by reformatting - fully functional web browsers existed on phone long before 2007. And it seems it's Apple that phones need websites reformatted into a special proprietary Apple-only exe "app" to view it, whilst other platforms can stick with the web.

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Re: I sort of agree.

I don't think that any application is "killer" - different people have different reasons. For me, I love having maps everywhere, from the Google Maps app in ~2006, to Nokia's (and later Google's) free sat nav.

As much as I hate to admit it, sites like Facebook and Twitter probably helped a lot. Although social networks existed in the early 2000s, these were sites like Livejournal where people were expected to write a lot more, and it wasn't so easy to do on a phone - so even though having Internet everywhere might have been something useful, most websites don't work well on a phone. Email might have been useful, but most people were probably happy to use texts, and wait until they got home for email.

But the obsession with reading or writing short status updates wherever you are suddenly made Internet on phones much more useful.

Another point may be that Internet data allowances used to be far more stingy. I was someone who wanted Internet, but rarely used a phone, but you could only get Internet years ago buy paying for a high end contract where you were paying for loads of hours and texts, things that I didn't need. The moment it was allowed on PAYG made it much more viable for me.

Also, I don't think there was really any sudden event - if you look at sales, there's been continual growth in Internet enabled phones (which remember isn't just so-called "smart" phones). It's more that as devices become more powerful, the technology is more usable. And web browsing - one of the most useful things - is also one of the most power hungry for most users. Around 2000, you had the spec that made them comparable to earlier home computers, but not very good for browsing. By 2005, this was more plausible. By 2008, this was much more doable, though it still wasn't completely smooth, and opening loads of memory hungry tabs might be a problem. By 2010 onwards, it's mature.

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These Things

Make me think of DICK Tracy!

Where is the Minority Report interactive hologram, the cheese wire garote and the laser to burn your handcuffs off with?

Not so smart.

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Re: These Things

If it doesn't feature a bezel spinning at high speed to cut ropes and chains, and a magnet to deflect bullets and unzip Miss Caruso's dress, I'm not interested!

http://www.hodinkee.com/blog/2011/10/13/james-bonds-rolex-5513-for-sale-complete-with-hyper-intensif.html

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Unhappy

so I guess no one's come up with the killer app for this device.

Except telling the time.

Which it does not need the phone to do.

Someday...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: so I guess no one's come up with the killer app for this device.

Except telling the time.

Which it does not need the phone to do.

if only .... I think it (at least 1st gen) needed a regular bluetooth connection to the phone to get the time to display!

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FAIL

Can you imagine...

...turning up to a date wearing one of those! WTF!?

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Go

Re: Can you imagine...

Imagine if your date was wearing one!

Gadget Geek Heaven!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Can you imagine...

Can you imagine giving a shit what sort of watch someone has or wanting anything to do with anyone who did care?

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Wam

Not Bluetooth 4?

I'd assume any new smartwatch would use Bluetooth 4 for power saving?

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WTF?

Try, try and try again

"Competitors are only now launching first generation devices, while we are already launching a 3rd generation device with all the insight gained from over half a million customers combined with Sony's wealth of technology expertise to create the best ever smartwatch experience," said Stefan Persson, head of companion products at Sony Mobile.

Or in other words there must be money in this as others are now trying it, so we're going to have yet another crack at it after cocking it up twice before. Let's just ignore the half-million punters who got burned with those failures and hope that they don't hold it against us.

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not many use cases so far...

I can see it to be (mildly) useful while doing sport (jogging, cross country skiing, biking, etc) when you want to control your phone without having to take it out of your pocket.

For example the watch can control your handset media player (tracks, volume, etc.).

You can see the caller's name when you get a call and decide to answer or not (I have been doing calls while skiing).

The above cases imply you also have headsets plugged.

It can show your position and speed (very cumbersome to do while skiing with a phone).

So there are some use cases but they are niche cases... nothing that can really appeal the real mass market.

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Re: not many use cases so far...

You just made me check if I could control Spotify from it and apparently I can.

If the 2nd gen watches go cheap, I'll definitely pick one up, make cycling to work and listening to music just a little easier :)

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Space age...

I want one with the operating system from the Nostromo...

...just so I could call it 'Watch with Mother'

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Facepalm

Microsoft will launch one....

...in a few years time, when Samsung or Apple have cornered the market, but unfortunately, like Windows 8, Office 2010 and outlook.com webmail:

- It's functionality will NOT be what the public want.

- It won't work very well.

- It will have an unusable UI.

- It will need frequent upgrades.

- The memory and CPU power requirement will be phenomenal.

etc.

etc.

The next release might even tell the time.

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Coat

What's wrong with cream suits?

I've had two over the years, always thought they look very nice.

As for the watch, might as well drown into the sea for all that I care.

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Kickstarter

Sony's "we're on the 3rd generation now, so we must be getting better" comment is kind of negated by the Agent kickstarter project. That's a first-gen watch I'd actually be interested in.

www.kickstarter.com/projects/secretlabs/agent-the-worlds-smartest-watch

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Anonymous Coward

Shallow review. What about...

Does it have a VNC client?

Can I use it to pay for Starbucks?

Is it compatible with PSP games?

Will it store my recipes?

Can I pay extra for a diamond-encrusted watch face?

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