Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch coming Sept. 25
NEW YORK — Forget boring old phones and tablets. Smartwatches are the hottest trend in tech, and Samsung is jumping into the market with the new Galaxy Gear.
The Gear watch links up with Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones and tablets, and it lets users know when they receive a call, text message or e-mail. Samsung co-CEO J.K. Shin unveiled the smartwatch at the IFA consumer tech conference in Berlin on Wednesday.
The Gear includes a 1.63-inch watch face and runs on Google’s Android operating system. The watch strap is available in several colors, from black to “oatmeal beige” to “wild orange.”
Samsung didn’t announce pricing early in its event or in a news release, but Shin said the 8-millimeter-thick Gear will be available Sept. 25.
Wednesday’s event included a demo from Pranav Mistry, the head of Samsung’s “think tank team,” who said Samsung set out to create “something out of sci-fi.”
He demonstrated how Gear users can “point your wrist and shoot” both video and photos.
The Gear also includes several voice-operated features. Users can make hands-free calls directly from the Gear, as well as dictate e-mail, set alarms and check the weather. Other features include a pedometer and an option to make the watch beep if it has been misplaced.
At launch, more than 70 apps including eBay, Evernote and RunKeeper are available to download on the Gear.
Shin called the Gear a “perfect companion” to the Galaxy Note III smartphone, which Samsung also revealed Wednesday.
“We really focused on how the Galaxy Note III feels in your hand,” Shin said of the slimmer, faster Galaxy Note III. Samsung also unveiled a new Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet.
Like the Gear, both the new tablet and new smartphone will also launch Sept. 25.
Samsung will face loads of competition in the smartwatch space. Startup Pebble smashed fundraising records on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter, and big tech firms such as Motorola, Sony and Casio have released their own watches. Behemoth Apple is strongly rumored to be releasing an “iWatch,” and Google rumors are swirling as well.
The smartwatch innovations come as consumer tech evolves past phones, laptops and tablets. Fitness companies pioneered the field of wearable devices, with Nike launching its Nike Plus running sensor way back in 2006.
The products have become more tech-heavy since then: The current slate of wearables includes highly specific trackers focused on heart rate, exercise intensity and sleep patterns, as well as more futuristic applications like the eyeglass-computer Google Glass.
Smartwatches, however, have come under particular scrutiny, with critics questioning whether the devices will drum up enough consumer interest to become mainstream must-haves.
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