Sunday 24 September 2017

Watch out smartphones ... the clock is ticking

David Phelan Berlin

Smartphones, with their big screens and accurate clocks, have been blamed for falling sales of wristwatches.

But last night in Berlin, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Gear – a gadget that, it hopes, will soon be filling the space where those timepieces once sat.

It may not have created the first smartphone or tablet, but the Korean manufacturer will hope it's paving the way for a whole new category of gadget – the smart watch.

The history of technology you wear has mostly been limited to gizmos that lack sex appeal: the hearing aid, say, or the Bluetooth headset.

Since big-screen phones like the Sony Xperia Z Ultra, with its gigantic 6.4-inch display, can be unwieldy, a smart watch will let you see who's calling without retrieving the glass slab from your bag.

In fact, Sony is already doing this and releases its second smart watch this month, despite the first one not being a success.

Samsung will hope for better sales with its model.

The Galaxy Gear is a watch with a 1.63-inch display and slick stainless steel frame. It allows you to make and receive calls – other smart watches don't do this – and Samsung sees it as a real game-changer.

With the Gear, the speaker and microphone are embedded in the strap so you hold your hand to your ear to make calls – though Samsung says you can move your hand wherever you like while you speak.

Samsung says it will change how we interact with each other. A camera in the strap will take a photo when you swipe the screen.

The Gear can't do any of this unless you have a (Samsung) smartphone that links it to the mobile phone network. When it's connected it can show incoming texts and messages, or remind you of upcoming appointments.

Light, sleek and highly tactile, the touchscreen is super-responsive, the camera nimble and effective.

The Samsung Galaxy Gear will be launched on September 25. No price has been confirmed.

Irish Independent

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