Android Wear’s big 5.1.1 update is arriving now on older watches

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The biggest update to Android Wear since last year’s launch no longer requires a brand-new smartwatch.

Android Wear 5.1.1 started rolling out to Asus ZenWatch owners a few days ago, and is now arriving on LG’s G Watch and G Watch R, according to Android Police. A post by Google in the Android Wear product forums says the update will roll out to all devices in “the coming days and weeks.” Previously, the update was only available on LG’s new Watch Urbane.

Android Wear 5.1.1 is a substantial reworking of Google’s smartwatch software. It makes apps and contacts much easier to access without voice commands, and it lets apps use the same “always-on” mode as watch faces, so users can glance at things like to-do lists and maps in a low-power mode. For messaging, users can draw emoji instead of using voice or picking from canned responses. The update also includes adjustable font sizes, an optional lock screen for when the watch loses its phone connection, and wrist gestures for flicking through the notification list.

For some smartwatches, the update will activate previously-dormant Wi-Fi chips, letting the watch sync with a smartphone over the Internet even when the devices aren’t connected by Bluetooth. Google says this feature will work on the LG Watch Urbane, Moto 360, Sony Smartwatch 3, and Samsung Gear Live. While LG’s G Watch R also has a Wi-Fi chip, it’s not being enabled in this update for some reason.

To get Android Wear 5.1.1, users should make sure the Android Wear companion app is up to date in the Google Play Store.

Why this matters: Although Google announced the update last month, at the time it wasn’t clear when existing Android Wear users would get it. The wait appears to be over for the most part—and just in time to make Wear a more formidable competitor to theApple Watch and Pebble Time.

ReVault smartwatch promises wireless, wearable storage on your wrist

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Instead of storing your files in the cloud, an upcoming smartwatch wants to put them on your wrist.

The ReVault watch packs 32GB of storage, and connects with phones, tablets, and computers over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Users will be able to sync data to the watch from one device, and then have retrieve the data wirelessly from any other iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, or Linux device.

Of course, online storage services such as Dropbox and Google Drive operate on a similar principle. The idea with ReVault is that you don’t need an Internet connection to grab your files, and don’t have to worry about the security of storing data in the cloud. (ReVault notes that only trusted devices will gain access through single- or two-factor authentication, and data is encrypted on the watch with AES-256.)

Going with a wrist-based solution does have some inherent drawbacks. You must remember to take the device with you and charge it every few days, though ReVault will support Qi Wireless charging to make that a bit simpler. And if you’re already inclined to wear another smartwatch, you’ll probably want to stuff ReVault in your pocket or wear it like a pendant with an optional neck strap.

For tech specs, ReVault is promising 32GB of storage for $199, or 128GB for $299. It has a 1.54-inch color display, Gorilla Glass 3, an accelerometer, Bluetooth 4.0, and 802.11b/g/n W-Fi. The watch case is stainless steel, and comes with a choice of tapered steel, steel mesh, or black leather bands. This is an Indiegogo project, and while estimated delivery is January 2016, these kinds of projects aren’t immune to delays ordisasters.

Why this matters: This is the kind of thing that could eventually become a smartwatch feature rather than a full-blown product. But most smartwatches these days max out at 4GB or 8GB of storage and are focused on other things besides serving up data to other devices. That makes ReVault an interesting idea for the present day—provided it becomes a real product after the crowdfunding campaign is over.

TomTom Golfer: a smartwatch for golfers

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A lot of smartwatches are available to choose from, but if you have some particular activity in your life that gets a lot of attention, having a wearable designed specifically for it might be ideal. For those whose special activity is golf, you’re in luck: TomTom has introduced a new smartwatch just for golfers.

The watch is called the TomTom Golfer, which isn’t terribly creative but is easy to distinguish from competitors. The watch is handy because of the data it contains — information on more than 34,000 golf courses, with that information being updated daily. One can search their course to pull up the data (if it is included, that is), and the updates are shuttled from one’s paired smartphone.

In addition to course data, golfers can use the Golfer to keep track of their game information, such as score and distance. One’s distance from hazards is shown, as well as lay-up points. It appears two band colors will be available — white and black — both backed by bright green.

As for hard specs, the Golfer features a display resolution of 144 x 168 pixels, and weighs in at 53 grams. The construction is waterproof, so there’s no worries about using it while in the rain. The device is up for pre-order now for £199, which works out to about $325 USD. Shipping will start in the next month or so.

HP smartwatch taps designer Michael Bastian and Gilt

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The brand you’ll see on the smartwatch coming from designer Michael Bastian is Gilt – but given that you’re a tech reader, the first name you’ll recognize in this collaboration is Hewlett-Packard. While the triple team-up here hasn’t let it be known what software it’ll be running quite yet, the concept views of this smartwatch have been revealed – and it looks rather nice.

Michael Bastian, Gilt and Hewlett-Packard – is this the dream-team you’ve been waiting for in a smartwatch? The engineering is being done by HP – that includes all the hardware manufacturing, and we’ll go ahead and assume the software as well. From there, it’s all Bastian.

Minuum for Android Wear; a useful smartwatch keyboard

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When we last saw Minuum talking Android Wear, their concept was a spectacular rendering of how the round face of a Moto 360 could make typing on the tiny screen easier. Sadly, we quickly learned that concept would never work, but a new video released by the company holds promise. This time, concept gives way to reality.


Minuum was always meant for this, almost a harbinger of things to come. Since its days of crowdfunding, Minuum has been looked to as the defacto option for those times when a “normal” keyboard just won’t work. Android Wear — and smartwatches in general — is just that; a time when QWERTY utility just isn’t effective.

Minuum, however, makes quick work of the small screen, using a series of swipes and zooming animations to help you along the way. It’s the first time we’ve looked to a smartwatch as an option for sending messages sans voice.
Let’s also be realistic that voice-texting is a great option, but not always useful. There are times you don’t want everyone around you listening in on a message; the point of text-based messaging is to remain private from the outside world.

Minuum may not have wowed the world on a smartphone, but its found a home on Android Wear, and could be the first native keyboard that is both usable, and makes sense. Check out the video below, where Minuum is shown off on the two existing Android Wear devices. While we’re still waiting to see how they’ll handle a round screen, this at least gives us all hope that typing on the tiniest of screens might end up being useful.

That HTC Smartwatch? It’s a designer’s flight of fancy

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The eagle-eyed were ecstatic: HTC had shared a video of its design studios and there, lurking in plain (if pixely) sight, seemed to be the much-rumored HTC smartwatch, right there on a designer’s desk. It was enough to reignite speculation about an HTC-made Android Wear wearable, but now HTC has waded in with some cold water, claiming the whole thing is just a designer’s tinkering.

According to an HTC spokesperson, the prototype is indeed a smartwatch, but it’s not specifically what HTC plans to actually make. Instead, it’s a design exercise by one of the team, rather than an early product.

“HTC encourages our design team to explore and tinker with new ideas and even models, as is the case with the watch some viewers noticed in our recent HTC Design video. It in no way indicates an actual product HTC is planning to release. Keep an eye on this space for exciting new products from HTC when they are ready to be announced!” HTC

The video, which you can see below, showed both a CAD model and a physical prototype of the smartwatch. With a square screen, it seemed HTC’s designer had a similar idea to LG and Samsung – which both have Android Wear watches on sale already – rather than following Motorola’s path with the circular MOTO 360.

HTC has already said it plans to join the Android Wear party, but there’s no timescale for that to actually happen. Back in May, leaks suggested HTC was looking at round not square displays, and though it’s unclear if that will actually be the case it might be a sensible strategy for the firm.

Minuum for Android Wear; a useful smartwatch keyboard

Screen-Shot-2014-07-15-at-11.09.07-AM-820x420

When we last saw Minuum talking Android Wear, their concept was a spectacular rendering of how the round face of a Moto 360 could make typing on the tiny screen easier. Sadly, we quickly learned that concept would never work, but a new video released by the company holds promise. This time, concept gives way to reality.


Minuum was always meant for this, almost a harbinger of things to come. Since its days of crowdfunding, Minuum has been looked to as the defacto option for those times when a “normal” keyboard just won’t work. Android Wear — and smartwatches in general — is just that; a time when QWERTY utility just isn’t effective.

Minuum, however, makes quick work of the small screen, using a series of swipes and zooming animations to help you along the way. It’s the first time we’ve looked to a smartwatch as an option for sending messages sans voice.
Let’s also be realistic that voice-texting is a great option, but not always useful. There are times you don’t want everyone around you listening in on a message; the point of text-based messaging is to remain private from the outside world.

Minuum may not have wowed the world on a smartphone, but its found a home on Android Wear, and could be the first native keyboard that is both usable, and makes sense. Check out the video below, where Minuum is shown off on the two existing Android Wear devices. While we’re still waiting to see how they’ll handle a round screen, this at least gives us all hope that typing on the tiniest of screens might end up being useful.

Samsung’s first Android Wear Smartwatch spotted at FCC?

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After LG and Motorola, it looks like Samsung is the next company which is making a smartwatch that is powered by Google’s Android Wear. SammyToday has spotted a smartwatch filing by Samsung that was posted on FCC website. Dubbed SM-R382, the FCC documents reveal that the smartwatch is smaller than than the Gear 2 by 10 mm / 0.39 inches.

The smartwatch will have WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity as per reports. The FCC does not provide any more details, but the dimensions and images indicate towards a possible Android Wear smartwatch. Also, a leak last month had revealed that Samsung is working on an unknown Gear wearable device with the same model number SM-R382.

Samsung first launched its Galaxy Gear line of smartwatches that were powered by Android. However,soon the company made a shift to Tizen OS with an update. If these reports are true, will Samsung chuck out its Tizen powered smartwatches completely and foray into Android Wear?

LG G watch and Moto 360 smartwatches that are powered by Android Wear are already expected to be shown off at Google’s I/O developer conference. So will Samsung join these two companies and launch a third smartwatch with Android Wear? We will have to wait till the I/O on June 25 and 26 for the same.

Top 10 smartwatch companies [Infographic]

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The smartwatch industry is about to explode; it’s the calm before the storm, and everyone is anxiously awaiting the launch of Android Wear to see how Motorola and LG can implement the smartwatch operating system. Smartwatches are nothing new, however, and have been around in consumer electronics right back to calculator watches.

The post Top 10 smartwatch companies [Infographic] appeared first on SmarterWatching.

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Samsung’s next Smartwatch can independently make calls, says report

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Samsung is making plans to introduce a new Smartwatch that can work standalone, untethered from the phone, says a report from WSJ. After having released 4 different models of wearable devices already, Samsung is planning to take it to a direction where some smaller companies have already started heading towards, which is the idea of a “Smart watch-phone”. We already heard some rumours of aGear 2 solo, the independent smartwatch that was reportedly in the works, and the WSJ report could just be a confirmation of the smartwatch of another kind. Yes, it will be different. This kind of a smartwatch is literally a miniature phone on your wrist, which can be used to perform most of the general duties of a modern smartphone, including taking calls, checking mails, the ability to have internet connected apps and so forth.  Samsung pursuing this direction could be the desire to be a pioneer in a new category of devices, for a market that’s already been used to this idea in science fiction plots one too many.

But even otherwise, Samsung’s device would be deemed to take the position as a user’s smartphone. It will have its own SIM slot, a number, its own whatsapp account, and would perform quasi-smartphone activities. This cannot happen without a strong case, and Samsung knows that. But Samsung, the Korean company, is known for taking risks in this direction. There has already been a watchphone from Samsung, going by the name of SPH-WP10, which released way back in 1999. Predictably, it was killed citing lack of demand. But the market has changed, a lot.

It is now well known that Apple is planning to release a smartwatch too, but it too will depend on the iPhone as a communication medium, being based on the idea of a Smartphone companion, whereas Samsung is taking it in a direction which most other companies are not willing to take. This is definitely a bold bet for the company, which also plans to use its own homegrown Tizen OS for its Smartwatch-phone. The operating system had a tumultuous past with Nokia and Intel in the mix, but now it is completely Samsung, which had plans to release smartphones based on the operating system, but decided otherwise later. Now, the OS runs on all of its smartwatches (the Gear will get an update) and will soon be featured in some of its home appliances too. With Android wear falling into the same idea as a Smartphone companion, Samsung would have obviously looked at Tizen for their new watch. Ultimately, Samsung has decided not to concede control to a different company this time around.