Archive for the ‘Wearables’ Category
Friday, December 5th, 2014
This week I’ve been playing with the Samsung Gear S, the latest wearable from our favourite Korean chaebol. Almost uniquely, the watch can work without being paired to a smartphone, thanks to a built-in SIM card slot, WiFi and GPS. That means you can go for a run with just a watch on, and you’ll still be able to record your route, answer phone calls or texts on the go, and even listen to music from the built-in speaker. It’s a different class of device to most smartwatches we’ve seen before, and it’s honestly pretty cool. Here are my first impressions of the Gear S.
The Gear S is giant. It’s like the phablet of smartwatches, with a big ol’ 2-inch (360 x 480) Super AMOLED display that curves around your wrist. That makes for a rather inelegant look, but the extra screen space really allows for the standalone watch features that set the Gear S apart.
Apart from the curved display, the design is quite standard for Samsung – there’s a metal ring around the display and a plastic band that clamps comfortably to your wrist. The clasp is adjustable, and should fit a good variety of wrist sizes.
The Gear S looks gigantic, but thanks to that curve it doesn’t jut out from your wrist too much – I had no issues getting the watch into my sleeves, for instance. The body measures 40 x 58 millimetres, with a 12.5 millimetre maximum thickness.
Internally, the Gear S feels solid. There’s a dual-core 1GHz processor, half a gigabyte of RAM and 4GB of internal storage for apps and music. A 300mAh battery feels a little small, but battery life is still 1 or 2 days comfortably.
When it comes to sensors the Gear S is incredibly well-equipped: we have an accelerometer, gyro, compass, heart rate, ambient light, UV and barometer. Connectivity is also insane, with WiFi N, a-GPS, Bluetooth 4.1 and USB 2.0 via a special charging dock.
The Gear S is the first watch I’ve used extensively to run Tizen, and I’m honestly pretty impressed so far. The interface is a little less intuitive than Google Wear, but there’s also a lot more going on here. A standard watch face lies at the centre of the interface, with notifications to the left and then up to five apps to the right (which could include a music player, an activity tracker, a news feed, a calendar and quick-toggle settings. Swiping from the top down brings you back, or opens your status bar if you’re already on the home screen. You can also pull up a list of apps to launch from the home screen, something that’s badly missing from default Android Wear.
Notifications are a little weird. You can easily read long previews of incoming emails and previews, but there seem to be no quick actions to these notifications – like archiving or replying to an email, for instance. To dismiss a notification, you have to long press and then tick the close box in the upper right, or drag down from the top and hit ‘clear all’. Dismissing a notification on your phone dismisses it on your watch, of course.
The standalone apps are the most fun things to play with on the Gear S. An Opera Mini app will allow you to surf the web (slowly), while an Engadget app will reel off an article to you at 250 words per minute using a system called Spritz. You can also straight up place calls, send text messages and write emails; thanks to a built-in microphone and speaker taking calls in any (relatively) quiet place is a cinch. Writing is a little more tricky, but it works surprisingly well… you can use a tiny tiny keyboard, or dictate using your voice.
There are a good range of apps available, particularly fitness ones, although finding them using the Galaxy Apps app is a bit hit-and-miss compared to the Play Store.
The Gear S surprised me. I expected a clunky, massive smartwatch that offered good features but was too impractical to use. Instead, I got a shapely smartwatch that won’t win any fashion awards but does provide some genuine benefits over a more traditional smartphone-dependent wearable. If you like the idea of a standalone smartwatch and you don’t mind paying for an extra SIM, then the Gear S is definitely worth a look. It’s available now from Mobile Fun.
Wednesday, November 26th, 2014
Google don’t yet officially support custom watch faces on Android Wear smartwatches like the G Watch and Moto 360, but that hasn’t stopped developers from creating hundreds of them. One popular app called Facer allows you to find new watch faces and send them to your phone, without needing to install a new app for each new watch face. In this blog, we’ll show you 10 awesome Facer watch faces and how to install them.
How to use Facer
- Download the Facer app from the Play Store. It’s 63p – well worth it.
- Visit FaceRepo.com to download watch faces. You can do this on your Android device or on your PC. If you choose to open the downloaded file with Facer, you can skip the next step. If you download them on your PC, move the files to your Android device’s Download folder.
- Open Facer, then click the import ‘watch face’ button. It’s in the upper right and looks like a watch with a downward facing arrow inside it. Select your downloaded watch face file (either .zip or .face).
- Press a watch face, then click the ‘send to watch’ button. You’ll need to set your watch face to Facer if it isn’t already. Sending the watch takes up to a minute, and sometimes needs to be repeated to work properly.
Round face recommendations (Moto 360, G Watch R)
Square face recommendations (Gear Live, G Watch, SmartWatch 3)
- Modern for Gear Live - a clean face with analogue time, date, weather.
- Retro LCD - classic LCD look, with time, weather, battery.
- Material Design - Android 5.0 style with time, date, weather.
- Casio G-Shock - time and date, doesn’t grant water resistance!
- Digital Retro - Clean retro design with time, date, battery, weather.
- LG G3 - simple time, date, weather and battery display.
I hope you’ve found some cool watch faces for your Android Wear smartwatch! Please recommend your favourites in the comments below, or speak to us on Twitter @mobilefun. Thanks for checking out the article and have a good week!
Monday, November 17th, 2014
Microsoft recently got into the fitness game with the release of its health platform, called simply Microsoft Health. The service turns data gathered from fitness devices and apps into simple, useful insights that help you become healthier.
One of the fitness devices it supports is Microsoft’s first fitness tracker: the Microsoft Band. The Band is one of the most powerful fitness trackers ever, packing an amazing amount of sensors into a slim TPE band. It’s also the first truly cross-platform fitness devices: the Band works with iOS, Android and Windows Phone. The Band is coming soon to Mobile Fun, so let’s take a closer look.
The Microsoft Band looks simple at first glance. It’s a large rubberised band, with a large rectangular colour display on the front and a clasp on the back. The closer you look, the more you find. The screen is a touchscreen, capable of showing live fitness data and even texts, emails and calls from your phone. The sliding clasp is designed to grow and contract to fit your wrist, whether you want a loose fit for daily use or a tighter one while you’re working out.
On the inner side of the band, its capabilities are easily explained – the entire ring is studded with sensors. That includes a 24 hour heart rate sensor, accelerometers and gyrometers for counting steps and tracking sleep, GPS to map the routes that you’ve run or biked and a UV monitor to see if you need sunscreen. There are other sensors too, like a galvanic skin response sensor that measures stress and sweat, a skin temperature sensor and plain old ambient light and capacitive sensors. It’s a startlingly comprehensive package, 10 sensors in all, far more than other fitness accessories.
Through clever algorithms and these sensors, the Microsoft Band is able to automatically record your exercise throughout the day, telling the difference between walking and biking; pull-ups and push-ups. You can also download workouts to the Band, which will guide you through a set of exercises and rests. You can also use the Microsoft Health app on your phone to see videos of how to do each step with good form, which The Verge found quite useful when they didn’t know what kind of move a V-Up was.
The Microsoft Band will be available in the coming weeks at Mobile Fun. For live pricing and availability data – and the ability to be notified when stock arrives – please visit the product page linked below:
Thanks for checking out the article; leave your comments below.
Tuesday, November 11th, 2014
Picking up a Gear S smartwatch from Samsung? We’ve got just the thing for you: an official charging cradle with its own power reserves for charging on the go. Take a look at the Samsung Gear S Smartwatch Charging Cradle!
The Gear S comes with a proprietary metal charging connector, rather than standard micro USB. You’ll get a charging adapter in the box, but if you want something better than that’s where the charging cradle comes in.
The cradle comes with the right adapter to charge your Gear S, but it also comes with its own portable charger. That means you’re able to recharge your Gear S even if you’re far away from a USB port or wall socket. Thanks to the short battery life of the Gear S, you’ll definitely want this option available to you.
The Gear S Charging Cradle is available now on pre-order. For live pricing and availability information, please visit the product page linked below. You’ll also find additional information and more photos:
Thanks for checking out the article about this handy Gear S accessory. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below or speak to us on Twitter @mobilefun or on Facebook at Love Your Mobile. Thanks again and enjoy your November week!
Wednesday, October 29th, 2014
The LG G Watch R has arrived in stock at Mobile Fun! We’re selling out fast, so if you want to pick one up then you may want to order now at the G Watch R product page. If you want to know more about the smartwatch, then read on for our hands-on impressions–or check out our G Watch R review roundup!
A very traditional design
Right out of the box, the G Watch R has a distinctive look that sets it apart from other smartwatches. The prominent crown, metal enclosure with oversized lugs and minute-marked dial all serve to validate the R’s credentials as a legitimate watch. The leather band is also quite stylish, and can be swapped for other 22mm bands.
The Watch R is water resistant, with an IP67 rating that means it should survive “in still tap water at room temperature for about 30 minutes, up to a depth of 1 metre.” That means it should brush off rain and splashes, but wouldn’t want to go swimming with it.
The first full circle Android Wear smartwatch
The Watch R’s killer feature is its display. The R has a circular dial like the Moto 360, but the screen here is a complete circle–there’s no black bar cut out of the bottom of the display. LG have instead put their display tech in the larger bezel. LG have also gone with a smaller display–1.3 inches instead of 1.56 inches–which results in two watches that are roughly the same size.
The small display has a resolution of 320 x 320 pixels, making the Watch R the most dense display on an Android Wear smartwatch so far. Viewing angles and colour reproduction seems quite good here, but there’s not a massive difference looking at the 360 and Watch R side-by-side. One big improvement over the earlier G Watch is sunlight visibility; now it’s quite possible to use the watch on a sunny day.
The G Watch R is as well-equipped as any other Android Wear smartwatch on the market, with a Snapdragon 400 quad-core CPU and 4GB of internal storage (for storing songs and installing apps).
A 410 mAh battery sits inside; the highest capacity battery inside an Android Wear device thus far (if only by a bit). We didn’t get a chance to look at battery life during our short time with the device, but other publications have reported two days of use with the screen constantly on, and up to three days when the display is allowed to turn off when unused.
In terms of sensors, we’re looking at a gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, heart rate monitor, barometer – but there’s no ambient light sensor to automatically adjust the brightness. Bluetooth 4.0 is used, and with the latest version of Android Wear you can connect to Bluetooth headphones / speakers as well as your Android 4.3+ phone.
Many watch faces and Android Wear
The Watch R comes out of the box with about 20 watch faces. That’s around the same number as came with the earlier G Watch, and triple the number of watch faces that come with the Moto 360. These watch faces generally adhere to the style set out by the Watch R’s hardware, with faces centred around sports, hiking and fitness that display additional information like steps taken, elevation and world times. Of course, there are some options out of left field as well, which provide effervescent and eye-catching looks but clash with the watch’s design.
The operating system on-board the G Watch R is Android Wear; the same as on the Moto 360, Gear Live, G Watch and the upcoming Sony SmartWatch 3. You’ll find the OS reasonably well-adapted for the circular display, although the touch-and-swipe interface isn’t entirely intuitive. Voice commands work well (if you are brave enough to try them in public) and overall the watch is definitely a useful complement to your phone.You’ll get notifications from your phone which can be ignored or responded to right from your watch; a growing number of apps now support the OS. Of course, you’re also able to make notes, set timers, track your steps and heart-rate, and even see the time.
One of the best Android Wear smartwatches so far
It’s still early days for Android Wear and smartwatches in general, but already we’re getting watches that are useful enough to be worth their cost. The G Watch R is arguably the best smartwatch on the market right now; its look is on par with the Moto 360 and it enjoys better performance and battery life. While the bulky construction might not suit everyone, if you’re in step with its design goals then you’ll find a useful and enjoyable smart watch in the G Watch R.
The G Watch R is available now at Mobile Fun, but supplies are limited. For the latest information, including pricing and availability, please visit the product page linked below: