You may not expect much from your watch beyond keeping time but that may be about to change. Just as your mobile phone evolved from serving as a telephone to serving as a computer, your watch may be evolving as well. The question will be: how much do you want your watch to do?
Samsung has announced the Galaxy Gear, a smartwatch that will usher in a new era of smartphones. The Gear has many more capabilities than previous smartwatches, accelerating the evolutionary process.
Like its predecessor, the Pebble watch, the Gear alerts you to important notifications so you don’t have to pull out your phone to know what’s going on every time your phone rings, buzzes or vibrates. But the Gear goes beyond being a second screen for your phone with built in features that reduce the number of times you will actually need to hold your phone. The Gear is the watch that goes the farthest in being a watch for both James Bond and Dick Tracy.
At its launch the Gear will be able to connect to the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet (2014 edition). Updates to the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, S3 and S4 are due in October to make those phones compatible with the Gear.
The watch comes with a 1.63″ color screen packed with pixels. The Gear is made of stainless steel and comes in six colors so those with a passion for fashion can express their personality in their color choice: Jet Black, Mocha Gray, Wild Orange, Oatmeal Beige, Rose Gold, and Lime Green.
The watch comes with an accelerometer and a gyroscope, so it can detect movement and track your runs and workouts.
The stated battery life is 25 hours so you should last a day with out needing to recharge but you will need to plug it in every night. No word yet on how much the battery life of the Note 3 will be diminished by its connection to the Gear.
The watch strap does more than affix the device to your wrist. A 1.8MP camera is embedded into the strap so you can take pictures and video with the Gear and have them sent to your phone. If the word “espionage” is in your job description, this may be the perfect watch for you.
The strap is also equipped with a microphone so you can use voice commands to operate your watch, giving new meaning to the phrase, “Talk to the hand.”
Using the Gear
The watch isn’t a phone itself but connects to your Note 3 so the two can function together. Just a tap of the watch to your phone and they sync together.
The screen of the Gear is similar to the screen of a smartphone. You tap and swipe to activate and move between apps. You can also use voice control to search, use apps, set an alarm, place a call, send a text message or find out about the weather forecast. The Gear syncs with the information on your phone so you can access your calendar and contacts from your watch.
No need to fumble for your phone to answer a call. Lift your wrist to your ear and speak into the watch.
In the unlikely event that you ever want to use the Gear to tell time, you can choose from 10 different pre-loaded watch faces. More watch faces will be available in the Gear app store at launch.
The phone and Note 3 work in unison so when you actually do pick up your phone, the phone will open to the app you were using on the watch. For example, if you were reading an email on your watch, the email app will automatically open when you turn on your Note 3.
You can program the watch to lock your phone if you wander more than 1.5 meters away from your Note 3. The Gear can also unlock your phone when your watch is close by the phone. You can also use your watch to locate your phone by commanding the phone to beep, illuminate and vibrate.
The watch becomes even more powerful when you load apps onto it. Over 100 apps for the phone will be available at launch from the Gear app store, including standards such as Evernote, eBay, TripIt, and apps for fitness, weather, photography, and more.
The Gear will be launched on the same date as the Note 3, September 25, because after all, why would you want one without the other? The price of the Gear will be $299 and will initially be available in over 140 countries.
Are you excited for the new Galaxy Gear? Do you wish the Gear were compatible with more phones? Would you get a phone because it was compatible with the Gear? Which feature of the Gear is most exciting to you? Do you have less respect for the watch you’re wearing now? Let us know in the Comments section below!