Apple Watch: 18h Battery life, Siri Integration and priced from $349 to over $10,000!

Also on April 10, you’ll be able to try on and learn more about Apple Watch at Apple Retail Stores.

We’ve been waiting for months to hear how long the Apple Watch’s battery will last, and luckily the Cupertino-based company has appeased us during its “Spring Forward” media event on Monday. Apple says the Apple Watch will have an 18-hour battery life, or what Apple calls “all day battery life”.

Charging Apple Watch is a snap. Simply attach the magnetic charger to the back of the watch.

“During a typical day you can expect 18 hours. This works for most people I think,” Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, told attendees at the event.

The Apple Watch collection features stainless steel cases in two beautiful finishes — traditional and space black.

The magnetic charger will click to the back of the Watch to charge at the end of the day, Cook told attendees.

Apple Watch has all-day battery life across a range of activities.

We’ve always known that Apple Watch will have Siri integration, but some new developments were revealed at Today’s Apple Watch event. While on stage, Kevin Lynch demonstrated Hey Siri functionality, which allows you to invoke Siri by simply raising your wrist and using only your voice. 

See who’s calling without having to reach for your phone.

As you’re likely aware of, the iPhone features Hey Siri functionality as well, but on the iPhone, you must have you device plugged in to do so. Having Hey Siri available on your wrist makes it much easier to interact with Siri hands-free, and will usher in a a much more convenient way of communicating with the Siri voice assistant software.

Raise your wrist and say “Hey Siri” to do all kinds of things with Apple Watch.

Hey Siri on the iPhone is a big battery drainer, because it means that the device is actively listening for the “Hey Siri” command. On the Apple Watch, the device won’t listen unless you raise your wrist. This means that there will be a lot less battery drain while using Hey Siri on the Apple Watch.

The SPG app on Apple Watch lets you check into your hotel and unlock your room.

Apple has announced the Apple Watch Edition will be available in select retail stores, priced from $10,000.

Pre-orders begin April 10.

Digital Touch lets you send a sketch, a tap, or even your heartbeat to other people wearing Apple Watch.

Note:

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On stage at Apple’s media event on Monday, Tim Cook announced that iOS 8.2 will launch to the public today. The software update, which has been in beta for several weeks now, will bring about the Apple Watch companion app that will allow your iPhone to talk to the upcoming wearable.

We saw a preview of the app back in January, when it was unearthed from a developer beta. It will allow users to customize a wide range of things on their Apple Watch including the Clock app with personalized monograms and alerts for notifications, people in your Contacts list, and more.

Additionally, the Companion app will offer up details on the device itself. Users will be able to view the storage capacity of their Apple Watch, the number of songs, photos and apps onboard, and other info like serial number and connection status. We’ll let you know as soon as iOS 8.2 hits today.

Sony working on a Smartwatch that is completely made of e-paper & Xperia Z4 rumored tech specs leaked!

Ever heard of electronic paper, also known as e-paper, the energy-efficient display technology that tries to emulate the reading properties of normal paper? You can find it on most e-book readers, smartphones,wearables, and if the rumors are to be believed, on a Sony smartwatch soon. According to insiders, the Japan-based giant is currently developing a wearable that will employ patented e-paper-enabled material not only for its display, but for the wristband as well. This will allow the users of the gizmo to customize both the watch face and the band as per their liking. Whether Sony will use color or monochrome e-paper, however, is veiled in mystery.

The wearable, however, shouldn’t be regarded as a successor to Sony’s existing SmartWatch wearables. Instead, the company will try to test out the waters and see how such a device will perform on the market. Moreover, it will demonstrate Sony’s newest technologies.
At the same time, the e-paper wearable will put serious emphasis on “style, rather than trying to outdo more technological offerings”. This apparently falls in line with a research which makes it clear that the design of a wearable gadget is among its most important assets.

“Smartwatches don’t sell now because there is little reason to buy one, since your smartphone can do it all anyway,” revealed Taichiro Nakayama, a consultant with Nomura Research from Tokyo.“Many people choose their watches based on the brand and design. Convincing them to replace what’s on their wrist now is no mean feat.”
As Sony is cutting down a substantial portion of its product portfolio in order to get back in the black and become profitable once again, it makes sense that it will try to re-establish its position as an innovator.
Sony Xperia Z4 rumoured tech specs leaked

It’s not been that long since the Xperia Z3 (pictured) went on sale, but Sony is planning to unveil its successor flagship at CES at the start of next year, and there are strong rumors flying about as to what the Xperia Z4 will consist of tech spec-wise.

The Xperia Z4 is set to get bigger, upping the screen on the Z3 from 5.2in to a 5.4in affair which isn’t surprising given the current trend for more sizeable phablets (just look at the Nexus 6, the large screen of which doesn’t appear to have dampened pre-order enthusiasm).

A Quad HD resolution is promised, but disappointingly, this will be driven by a Snapdragon 805 (it’s disappointing for those who thought the new Snapdragon 810 might be on board, anyway). There will, however, be plentiful RAM in the form of 4GB (yes, 4GB) which should help things run nice and smoothly – if indeed this is correct (this is all speculation, of course).

While the camera will stay the same at 20.7 megapixels (which is plenty enough detail, let’s face it) a new sensor will perform better in low-light, which is good to hear. The front camera will also be a more impressive 4.8 megapixel affair, with a wide angle lens as is the trend these days to ensure selfie fans aren’t disappointed.

Phone Arena, which received the anonymous tip, also heard that the Z4 Ultra is coming with a 5.9in screen and the same CPU and RAM, along with a 16 megapixel camera. Apparently this Nexus 6 rival will also be incredibly svelte at 5.7mm.

Sony will be looking to these devices to help stoke sales, which have been flagging lately, with the company recently announcing a drop in the numbers of handsets expected to ship this year (down from 43 million to 41 million – and well down from the 50 million figure mentioned back in the spring).

LG teases upcoming Android Wear-based ‘G Watch’

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LG has posted a teaser clip this weekend for its upcoming G Watch, which is an Android Wear-based smartwatch. The video doesn’t offer up much in the way of specs or feature details, but it gives you a good look at its design and function.

The G Watch will apparently be the first watch powered by Android’s new wearables platform it introduced back in March. It has a metal body, which is both dust and water resistant, and is compatible with a stout number of Android devices…

Here’s the promotional teaser:

And from the March press release:

“The opportunity to work with Google on LG G Watch was the perfect chance for LG to really pull out all stops in both design and engineering,” said Dr. Jong-seok Park, president and CEO of LG Electronics Mobile Communications Company. “With the LG G Watch, LG is continuing the milestones we’ve set in wearables following in the footsteps of the world’s first 3G Touch Watch Phone in 2009 and the Prada Link in 2008. We’re confident that a well-designed device has the potential to take the smart wearable market by storm.”

LG certainly seems confident that the G Watch will be a hit, but I don’t see how this will be much better than Samsung’s Gear smartwatches. Sure, LG’s watch is running on Android Wear, but give it a few months and I bet a new Gear will too.

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But perhaps more significant than the G Watch itself is the fact that LG is making a smartwatch at all. It’s becoming very clear that wearables is the next big market in mobile electronics, and it seems like every major tech firm is working on one.

Apple, for its part, is rumored to be working on a so-called ‘iWatch‘—a wearable accessory with various sensors capable of tracking health and fitness activities. We’ve heard a few potential release dates, but the consensus is it’ll be this year.

There’s no word yet on when the G Watch will be available, but LG has a big event coming up in London on May 27.

Nike gives up on the FuelBand, making more room for the iWatch!

Nike is gearing up to shutter its wearable-hardware efforts, and the sportswear company this week fired the majority of the team responsible for the development of its FuelBand fitness tracker, a person familiar with the matter told CNET.

“As a fast-paced, global business we continually align resources with business priorities,” Nike spokesman Brian Strong said in an email. “As our Digital Sport priorities evolve, we expect to make changes within the team, and there will be a small number of layoffs. We do not comment on individual employment matters.”

The company informed members of the 70-person hardware team — part of its larger, technology-focused Digital Sport division comprised of about 200 people — of the job cuts Thursday. About 30 employees reside at Nike’s Hong Kong offices, with the remainder of the team at Nike’s Beaverton, Ore., headquarters.

Nike’s Digital Sport hardware team focused on areas like industrial design; manufacturing operations; electrical and mechanical hardware engineering; and software interface design. Products included not only the FuelBand but also the Nike+ sportwatch and other, more peripheral sport-specific initiatives.

Of those 70 employees, about 70 percent to 80 percent — or as many as 55 people — were let go, the person said, asking not to be identified because the information was confidential. Some of the employees will be staying on at Nike through May. It’s unclear how many current employees, if any, have been internally recruited to join other Nike divisions. Nike Digital Tech, responsible for Web software, was not affected.

As early as this fall, Nike planned on releasing another iteration of the FuelBand — an even slimmer version — but cancelled the project. And it appears to have shelved all future physical product projects under the Digital Sport helm, the person familiar with the matter added.

Nike will not, however, stop selling the second-generation FuelBand SE for now, the company confirmed. “The Nike+ FuelBand SE remains an important part of our business. We will continue to improve the Nike+ FuelBand App, launch new METALUXE colors, and we will sell and support the Nike+ FuelBand SE for the foreseeable future,” said Strong in a follow-up comment.

In fact, word of the firings made its way to Secret, an anonymous social network for gossip centered on the tech industry, as far back as a week ago. “The douchebag execs at Nike are going to lay off a bunch of the eng team who developed the FuelBand, and other Nike+ stuff. Mostly because the execs committed gross negligence, wasted tons of money, and didn’t know what they were doing,” the post read.

As CNET reported on April 10, Nike had serious discussions in the last few months — after the release of the FuelBand SE tracker last November — about exiting the wearable-hardware market. The shoemaker isn’t throwing in the towel on technology. Rather, it’s turning away from hardware and realigning its focus exclusively on fitness and athletic software, a strategic shift that would still benefit the company in the long run, analysts said. Nike’s FuelBand SE currently sits at No. 35 on the CNET 100 leaderboard.

There’s increasing competition in the market for wrist-worn fitness trackers, and Nike’s digital app ecosystem, Nike+, has grown less reliant on wearables as smartphone sensors have improved. In other words, it makes less and less sense for Nike to stay in the hardware race when its physical wearables are not bottom-line needle movers, especially as companies like Apple and Google prepare to join the fray.

Just last week, Nike announced the launch of its San Francisco-based Fuel Lab. The testing space, born from its accelerator program, will join Nike’s slew of other innovation-branded R&D havens where companies will be able to design hardware products that incorporate the company’s proprietary point-based workout metric, NikeFuel.

Essentially, it will be a incubator for FuelBand successors, as long as they plug in to Nike+, for which Nike is publicly releasing an API this fall.

As Nike redirects its wearable efforts toward software, it’s avoiding the competition from a bevy of new devices that will further crowd the market, namely the Apple “iWatch” and devices running Google’s recently unveiled Android Wear operating system, designed exclusively for watches and other wrist-oriented wearables.

As Apple enters the fray, Nike has a potential partner. Apple CEO Tim Cook, who was seen wearing a FuelBand at the company’s launch of the iPad Mini in October 2012, sits on Nike’s board, and has for the last nine years. That relationship has been fruitful, helping Nike enter the wearable market as early as 2006 — with the Nike+iPod shoe-sensor package — with a strong brand partner.

A partnership, say analysts, would be a no-brainer. “Apple is in the hardware business. Nike is in the sneaker business. I don’t think Apple sees Nike as competitive. It’s likely that an Apple hardware offering would be supportive of the Nike software,” Jim Duffy, a Nike analyst with Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, said when speaking with CNET last week. “Nike would be content to let Apple sell devices, as long as they would be supportive of the apps.”

“Partnering with industry-leading tech companies is nothing new for Nike,” Nike’s Strong said. “We have been working with Apple to develop products since 2006, when we introduced Nike+ Running, and Nike has since created iOS Apps including Nike+ Training Club, Nike+ FuelBand and Nike+ Move.”

Of course, it was always inevitable that Cook’s wrist would eventually sport an Apple-made device, and no other. Whether that particular device carries Nike software may be the next defining step for Nike in the world of wearables.

One might argue it never really made sense for a shoe maker to build hardware. Still, it’s an interesting move, at an interesting time, especially when you know Tim Cook is on Nike’s board.

Samsung to unveil Galaxy Gear SmartWatch on September 4

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Perhaps looking to spoil Apple’s September 10 iPhone 5S/5C party, Samsung of South Korea is reportedly set to make a major wearables-focused announcement six days ahead of Apple’s press conference. The South Korean conglomerate last week sent out invites for its August 4 Unpacked 2013 Episode 2 event to launch the Galaxy Note III.

As it turns out, the firm may have another surprise up its sleeve come August 4: a Galaxy-branded smartwatch designed to act as a companion device for its Galaxy smartphones and tablets…

SamMobile has apparently confirmed that Samsung will in fact launch the Galaxy Gear smartwatch (model number  (SM-V700) “on the same day it takes the wraps off its third-generation Note”.

The Samsung event is due on September 4 – that’s the first Wednesday in September – at 7pm local time / 1pm ET / 10am Pacific.

A pair of drawings in this post are taken from Samsung’s Galaxy Gear trademark filingwhich describes “wearable digital electronic devices in the form of a wristwatch, wrist band or bangle capable of providing access to the Internet and for sending and receiving phone calls, electronic mails and messages”.

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With a Samsung-branded smartwatch practically looming on the horizon and the Pebble being readily available across retail outlets nationwide, small wonder that Google, Microsoft,LG and others are ostensibly working on similar products of their own.

It’s worth pointing out this seeming flurry of activity in the wearable space is happening amidst persisting iWatch rumors.

For those who can’t make it to Berlin to follow along Samsung will provide a live stream of the presser in New York’s Time Square and on YouTube.

We’ll be watching the event as it unfolds to bring you up to speed with Samsung’s announcements – because it pays to know your competition.