There are many opinions about wearable technology, but most criticisms focus on the awkwardness – or just plain unattractiveness – of many products that have come thus far. One of the more interesting presentations from I/O 2015 came during the ATAP session, in which Project Jacquard was introduced. This is a touch-sensitive fabric that can be woven into regular clothing and used a bit like a trackpad. This technology is being put to real use, and in a partnership with Levi Strauss, the first product using Jacquard will be launching next Spring.
Levi's is calling it the Commuter Trucker Jacket, a denim jacket with Jacquard woven into the left sleeve.
Remember the Gear Fit? More than two years ago, everyone was excited to check it out because it was the first fitness tracker to feature a curved display that was supposed to hug your wrist and not look completely weird on it. The hype only lasted a couple of months as Samsung released wearable upon wearable dragging the Gear Fit into oblivion by sheer intra-brand competition. It seems that the concept wasn't completely abandoned though as Samsung is gearing up (oh snap!) to release a second generation of the product.
According to Evan Blass (aka Evleaks), the Gear Fit 2 should be more curved and thus more ergonomic to wear, and it'll also have a GPS chipset to allow for more data tracking while running or biking for example.
I’ve been a loyal Wearer (is that the right term?) since the launch of the 2014 Moto 360. I bought one as soon as I could, and I wore it every day. It didn’t exactly change the way I use my phone, but hey, I’m an early adopter. We get things before they’re great so we’re already there by the time they are. Well, I’m kind of still waiting.
Wear just hasn’t seen too many updates in terms of functionality and usability and it’s really starting to show. When you take a look at promo material for Wear, it’s painfully clear we’re still quite a bit off from having our wrists do most of the heavy lifting in our digital lives.
In case you missed the news, LG's Watch Urbane 2nd Edition has started popping up for pre-order after being abruptly cancelled late last year. That means Google can finally let the nearly year-old first-gen Watch Urbane die the death LG would probably prefer it died several months ago. Yes, the Urbane is no longer for sale on the Google Store.
Qualcomm did not have a great 2015 with the issues surrounding the 810, but it's looking to turn that around in 2016. The Snapdragon 820 might help, but the fancy high-end chips aren't everything. Qualcomm has announced several new mid-range ARM chips, as well as a new modem and a wearable-specific SoC.
Most smart watches and similar wearables use re-purposed phone processors like the Snapdragon 400. MediaTek is trying to offer a more focused alternative with the just-announced MT2523. It's a complete system-in-package (SiP) for wearables with GPS, dual-mode Bluetooth LE, support for high-resolution screens, and a highly efficient Cortex M4 CPU.
Google's attempt to make a wearable face computer didn't go so well, but maybe the masses just weren't ready. Now, Google Glass is reportedly on its way to businesses with a new Enterprise Edition. This assumes even businesses have a use for Glass. Google has yet to acknowledge the existence of this device, but images are now up on the FCC's website. It looks a lot like the original Explorer Edition Glass.
Until now, all the Android Wear watches you could buy were made by technology firms moonlighting as watchmakers, but now there's the Fossil Q Founder. This is the first widely available Android Wear smart watch designed by a company that makes regular watches. In some ways it looks more like a real watch than any of the others, but there are also some design concessions that remind you Fossil is new to the whole wearables thing.
Fossil makes things you can wear, Misfit wears things you can wear. Fossil wants to make smart wearables, Misfit makes smart wearables. Fossil does fashion, Misfit does fashionable gadgets. If it sounds like a match made in heaven, then you know what the two companies were thinking when they brokered a deal to make Misfit part of Fossil's corporate portfolio.
The purchase is valued at $260 million, no small bet on the part of Fossil on the legitimacy of both Misfit and the smart wearable market in general. Fossil had until now only just begun treading into this area, releasing an activity tracker and forging some partnerships with bigger players.
Google began rolling out v8.3 of the Play services framework a few weeks ago, and it looks like it's in a wide release. While this version didn't present with any direct user-facing features and only a few cryptic hints for a teardown, it did bring some definite improvements to the Play services SDK. There are some changes to streamline the sign-in experience for app developers and users alike, along with some additional enhancements that should make it easier for developers to set up new user accounts. New APIs have also been added to make data delivery more efficient between a phone and an Android Wear watch.