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Tech Corner: Smartwatches

In this edition of Tech Corner, David talks about the different features of the Apple Smartwatch and the Android Smartwatch.

Apple Watch:
The hype is finally here. The previous myths and theories are debunked. It’s the Apple Watch: Apple’s spin on the classic watch.

Although revealed in September 2014 during the Apple keynote in Cupertino, the Apple Watch isn’t expected to hit the shelves until early 2015. There aren’t many product choices at this point, and there is no word on whether Apple will allow for third party watches, like Android.

Luckily, Apple boasts that there are over two million customizable ways to see time and customizable bands. What’s also neat is that the Apple Watch tells time up to the 50 milliseconds, giving you the most precise time no matter what. This includes Daylight Savings and when you enter a different time zone. As of now there are only three different types of Apple watches: the original Apple Watch, the Apple Watch Sport and the Apple Watch Edition. Here are the specifications of each one.

Apple Watch Sport:
Available in lightweight anodized aluminum in silver and space gray, this sporty watch is protected by strengthened Ion-X glass, which is aluminosilicate and is resistant to scratches and impact. This watch is 30% lighter than the original Apple Watch. The band is fluoroelastomer, which is a synthetic rubber that is lightweight and durable.

Not only that, but it’s also soft and feels great around the skin. The band colors come in white, blue, green and black. This watch is ideal for people who work out because it’s lightweight, sturdy and comfortable. Apps can track your footsteps and even their quality and frequency. The starting price will be $349.

Apple Watch Edition:
This Apple watch is different from the original as well. Each watch is encased in 18- Karat gold, which was developed to be twice as hard as standard gold. Not only that, but the display is protected by polished sapphire crystal making it the most elegant out of the three different watches. You get what you pay for, as this watch starts at a whopping $4,999. There are two different colors: rose or gold.

Apple Watch:
The original Apple Watch is geared to accessorize your iPhone and make the experience even better. The Apple Watch is compatible with both lefties and righties and comes in the glossy colors stainless steel and space gray. Starting price on this Watch will be $349.

Overall Specs
All watches will come preloaded with iMessages, Health, Calendar, Mail, Photos, Weather, Camera/Photos, Apple Maps and Apple Pay. Third party apps will be on the way, including checking your electric car’s battery to unlocking your hotel room.

There will be two sizes, 1.5 inch and 1.65 inch, and male and female versions.

Apple implemented a “digital crown,” which lets you zoom, scroll and select without even covering the screen. The retina screen, which is force-sensitive, triggers different functions the harder you press the screen. There is also a wake and sleep button, which turns the screen on and off.

Inside of every watch is an accelerometer and heartbeat sensor, and they all have haptic notifications (vibrations for notifications!). This is geared toward the fitness app, which will track your physical activity.

Battery Life:
Sadly this is unknown. Rumors say apple is trying to improve it as we speak, but we know it will use a magsafe charger.

Watch Bands:
Bands that are compatible with phones are: Link bracelet, Sport band, leather loop, classic buckle, modern buckle and Milanese (mesh) loop.

As expected, the Apple watch is compatible exclusively with Apple phones: the iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s. No iPads; they’ll connect via Bluetooth.

Android Wear:
Google made headlines earlier this year in March when it announced the Android Wear program, a version of its Android operating system specifically tailored for smart-watches. Later in June, Google launched the official build of Android Wear, accompanied by three options from LG, Samsung and Motorola.

While Android Wear is capable of many interesting functions, it is primarily based around Google Now. Google Now is a predictive, personal assistant designed on presenting ‘cards’ – pieces of information integrated into smoothly designed notification slides – to the user. The types of cards you receive can be determined by your search history, so if Google catches on to your strange habit of looking at pictures of cats, you might just start getting cards with information about cats.

Now also uses information such as location and calendar to give you relevant cards on everything from nearby restaurants and parking spots to traffic updates and sports news. The crux of Google Now is that it wants to find out what you want to do and then give you genuinely useful information on how to do it better, before you do it.

Another key feature of Android Wear is the voice commands. Google’s finely honed voice recognition system returns commands quickly and accurately. Just say “OK Google,” like you do on Android phones and Google Chrome, and the watch will glow to life. Android Wear makes everything from setting up appointments, dictating notes, sending texts, writing emails or even plain old searching, a breeze on your wrist.

Due to Android’s open nature, many big name smartphone makers can access the Wear platform and market their own watches. Still, Google has tightened its hold over Wear in order to keep the experience consistent across watches. While there are many more to come, the three big options so far are the Samsung Gear Live, the LG G Watch and the Moto 360. Each watch is compatible with any Android smartphone running 4.3 or higher (so most newer Androids).

Samsung Gear Live:
The Gear Live is a resilient and versatile choice, featuring an IP67 certified dust and water resistant metal build, that you can use it in a variety of conditions (take a shower? go for a run?). It features a vibrant 1.63” 320 x 320 resolution AMOLED display with a high pixel density that is always on, so you can glance at it whenever for a quick check of your notifications. A 300mAh battery powers this watch, and it should last a day. The watch also features a pedometer and heart rate monitor for fitness purposes.

Though there is only one color option, the strap is replaceable with many different colors. You can buy a Gear Live for $200 on Google Play.

LG G Watch:
Like its launch companion, the Gear Live, the LG G Watch also features IP67 dust and water resistance, though its plastic build doesn’t seem on par with the Live. Also, its 1.65” 280 x 280 IPS display is nowhere near as eye-pleasing as that of the Live, though it still features the incredibly useful always-on function.

Behind the scenes is a powerful 1.2 gHz Snapdragon 400 processor, a processor found on many mid-range smartphones. Still, that might eat up the 400 mAh battery a little too quickly… Anyways, these come in a sleek “Black Titan” color scheme or a nice looking “White Gold,” but you can customize this one with swappable bands too. The G Watch retails for $229 from the Google Play store.

Moto 360:
Motorola actually just released this device a few weeks ago. Out of all the smartwatches I’ve seen, the Moto 360, with its attractive stainless steel unique circular watch face and authentic leather strap, takes the cake for classy.

It features an always-on 1.56” 320 x 290 IPS display that goes from edge to edge elegantly. The display is further protected by scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass 3. Like its peers, it also features dust and water resistance. The 360 runs on a 320 mAh battery that Moto claims will last an entire day. As an added plus, the 360 also comes with wireless charging, meaning you can simply throw your watch down onto a charging station, no wires required, and pick it up a few hours later, fully charged.

This watch currently comes in black or silver steel, and the wristband options currently are grey or black leather, though a metal band is in the works. You can buy one from Google Play or Motorola for $250.

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Tech Corner: Smartwatches