Displaying items by tag: smartwatch

Shipments of connected wearables reached 116.8 million worldwide in 2018, according to the findings of Berg Insight. Growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.4 percent, total shipments of smartwatches, smart glasses, fitness & activity trackers, smart clothing, mobile telecare and medical devices as well as other wearable devices are forecasted to reach 238.5 million units in 2023. Bluetooth will remain the primary connectivity option in the coming years. A total of 67.7 million of the wearables sold in 2023 are forecasted to incorporate embedded cellular connectivity, mainly in the smartwatch and telecare and medical device categories.

Published in Gadget
Thursday, 14 September 2017 11:39

Apple’s latest smartwatch is LTE-enabled

Apple launched the latest Apple Watch on September 12 at the grand unveiling of its new products at the newly inaugurated Steve Jobs Theater at Apple Park. While most of the attention at the launch was on Apple’s iPhone anniversary device, the iPhone X, the Californian tech giant’s Apple Watch Series 3 is impressive.  

The new smartwatch has cellular capability allowing you to stay connected, make calls, and receive texts, without pairing with an iPhone. The third generation Apple Watch also features music steaming, a faster dual-core processor, and watchOS 4. Apple Watch Series 3 comes in two models, one with GPS and cellular, and one with just GPS, both featuring a 70 percent faster dual-core processor and new wireless chip.

Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) starts at US$399 and Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS) starts at US$329. In addition to silver or space gray aluminum, Apple Watch Series 3 now comes in a new gold aluminum, along with silver or space black stainless steel cases, which all pair with an assortment of new band colors and styles.

Soon, the combination of cellular and watchOS 4 will allow Apple Music users to stream 40 million songs right from their wrist. Beginning Friday, September 15, Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) will be available to order in 10 countries and territories, and Apple Watch Series 3 GPS will be available to order in 28 countries and territories. Both models are available in stores starting Friday, September 22.

“We believe the addition of cellular will transform the way people use Apple Watch, providing a new sense of freedom since they can stay connected with or without their iPhone,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. “Apple Watch Series 3 combined with the power of watchOS 4 is the ultimate device for a healthy life.”

Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) features a full LTE and UMTS cellular radio that automatically switches to cellular when it’s away from an iPhone. The smartwatch shares the same number as the iPhone it’s paired with, so there’s no need to provide an additional number. To help get customers started, participating carriers will offer special introductory cellular plans at launch.

Customers have the ability to make cellular calls directly with Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) and, when paired with AirPods, enjoy a fully wireless experience. Apple also pioneered an industry-first antenna design that uses the display itself as both a transmitting and receiving element for LTE and UMTS, while introducing a built-in eSIM that is over one-hundredth the size of a traditional SIM card, making over-the-air activation possible without compromising space.

The third-generation Apple Watch functions as a health and fitness companion with intelligent coaching features, water resistance 50 meters and a new barometric altimeter that measures relative elevation. 

Powering Apple Watch Series 3 is the S3, Apple’s third-generation architecture featuring a faster dual-core processor, which allows for quicker app launch times and smoother graphics, and, for the first time, enables Siri to speak using the built-in speaker.

Apple designed a new custom wireless chip called W2, making Wi-Fi 85 percent faster and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi 50 percent more power efficient, while still providing all-day battery life and keeping the size virtually the same as before. Apple Watch Series 3 also features a barometric altimeter that assists with tracking activity, flights climbed and outdoor workouts, including elevation gain.

Apple’s new smartwatch operating system watchOS 4 features an updated Heart Rate app, giving even more insight to heart rate, including measurements during resting, workout, recovery, walking and Breathe sessions. You can also choose to receive a notification when their heart rate is elevated above a specific threshold while inactive.

Other watchOS 4 features include the proactive Siri watch face that displays the information users need most throughout the day, an enhanced Workout app with new interface, custom High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout type and auto-sets for pool swims. With GymKit, users will soon enjoy the ability to connect to their favorite cardio equipment and experience two-way synchronization of data with just a tap, resulting in the most accurate information possible.

In addition, the redesigned Music app experience automatically syncs playlists like New Music Mix and Favorites Mix, along with your most listened to music. The Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) will soon be able to stream music, giving users access to any song from Apple Music, straight from the wrist. The new Radio app also enables listeners to access Beats 1 live or any Apple Music radio station while away from iPhone or Wi-Fi.

Published in Gadget

Chinese firm Xiaomi maintained its lead in wearables for the second quarter of 2017, as the worldwide wearables market once again showed positive growth as shipments grew 10.3 percent year-on-year, reaching 26.3 million, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker.

The second quarter of 2017 marked a turning point in the market as wearables (those that do not run third party apps) declined for the first time with annual growth of -0.9 percent, IDC said. Meanwhile, smartwatches like the Apple Watch and Android Wear lineup grew 60.9 percent in the quarter thanks to fitness and fashion enthusiasts.

"The transition towards more intelligent and feature-filled wearables is in full swing," said Jitesh Ubrani senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers. "For years, rudimentary fitness trackers have acted as a gateway to smartwatches and now we're at a point where brands and consumers are graduating to a more sophisticated device.

“Previous niche features such as GPS and additional health tracking capabilities are quickly becoming staples of the modern smartwatch,” Ubrani continued. “Just a year ago only 24.5 percent of all wearables had embedded GPS while today that number has reached almost 41.7 percent.”

Xiaomi maintained its lead in the second quarter as the company's expertise in driving low-cost devices remains unmatched, said ICD. Though the Mi Band lineup was the most popular, Xiaomi also caters to the growing market of kids' devices and recently shipped its first pair of smart shoes under the Mijia brand. Shipments for the shoes were immaterial during the quarter though IDC anticipates this to gradually grow as Xiaomi gains traction in the clothing/apparel industry.

The second most successful wearables brand in Q2 was Apple thanks to its Series 1 and Series 2 smartwatches which are now mature products with the clear and concise purpose of fitness. This has boded well for Apple as the company has been slowly expanding its reach among health insurance providers. The release of the latest Watch OS later this year is also expected to bring much anticipated features like a Siri watch face to the wrist.

Fitbit, which took third place, finds itself in a period of transition, says IDC. Early leaks and the recent official announcement of the Fitbit Ionic will help cement the company's place in the growing smartwatch market. However, short-term growth remains challenged as the product portfolio is vast and undifferentiated.

"There is growing interest from the medical industry to adopt wearables and consumer expectations are also on the rise. This is where companies like Apple and Fitibit have the potential to maintain their lead as their investments in the tracking and perhaps diagnosing of diseases will be a clear differentiator from low-cost rivals,” said Ubrani.

In fourth place was Garmin which saw a decline of 6.6 percent from last year. IDC says this should not necessarily be seen as negative as the company has managed to grow revenue. Transitioning existing users from basic fitness trackers to more advanced smartwatches like the Fenix lineup has worked well for the company, IDC said. Recent developer outreach has also allowed Garmin's ConnectIQ platform to branch outside health and fitness.

US firm Fossil entered the top five for the first time and much of this is credited to the acquisition of Misfit in late 2015, said IDC. With a large distribution network of fashion stores and multiple brands Fossil managed to attract a previously unaware audience to the wearables market. While smartwatches from Michael Kors and Fossil took center stage, the company's hybrid watch lineup also gained traction.

"Market growth favored new and emerging products in the second quarter," noted Ramon Llamas, research manager for IDC's Wearables team. "Smartwatches recorded double-digit year-over-year growth, with much of that increase attributable to a growing number of models aimed at specific market segments, like the fashion-conscious and outdoor enthusiasts in addition to the technophile crowd, lower price points, and a slowly-warming reception from consumers and enterprise users alike.”

Llamas added, “Factor in how smartwatches are taking steps to become standalone devices, and more applications are becoming available, and the smartwatch slowly becomes a more suitable mass market product.”

Published in Gadget

California-based wearables company Fitbit has launched its first smartwatch called Fitbit Iconic – a health and fitness platform, offering a highly personalized experience. It features a SpO2 sensor, making it possible to track deeper health insights like sleep apnea in the future, as well as advanced GPS, on-device dynamic workouts, improved heart rate tracking, and water resistance up to 50 meters.

Fitbit Iconic also features contactless payments, on-board music, smart notifications, and a variety of popular apps and clock faces available in the Fitbit App Gallery. The device comes with all the core features that Fitbit is known for, such as 4+ day battery lie, automatic activity and sleep tracking, and cross-platform compatibility.

You can pre-order a Fitbit Iconic today for $299.95 from Fitbic.com and in retailers starting October 2017, with a new Fitbit Iconic Adidas special edition device coming in 2018. The relationship will leverage Adidas’ robust performance program expertise with Fitbit data and insights from millions of global users to help athletes of all levels perform better, play better and feel better.

The device is available in three color combinations “inspired by elevating everyday neutrals that fit seamlessly into your life”: silver gray tracker and clasp with blue gray band, smoke gray tracker and clasp with charcoal band, or burnt orange tracker and clasp with slate blue band.

The Fitbit app software development kit (SDK) will be open to developers in September 2017.

“Ten years ago, Fitbit pioneered the wearables category with the introduction of its first health and fitness tracker. Since then, we have become the leading global wearables brand, setting the pace of innovation in the category and establishing the largest social fitness network that helps millions of people around the world be healthier,” said James Park, co-founder and CEO of Fitbit.

“With Ionic, we will deliver what consumers have not yet seen in a smartwatch – a health and fitness first platform that combines the power of personalization and deeper insights with our most advanced technology to date, unlocking opportunities for unprecedented health tracking capabilities in the future,” Park added.

In March 2017, IDC reported that the worldwide wearables market reached a new all-time high as shipments reached 33.9 million units in the fourth quarter of 2016, growing 16.9 percent year on year. Shipments for the entire year grew 25 percent as new vendors entered the market and previous champions refreshed their product lineups. 

Fitbit maintained its dominance in the wearables market, holding the top position for both the quarter and the year. However, the company also faced one of its largest declines ever as it remained heavily focused on the US, a market that is quickly approaching saturation for fitness trackers. Though the company has grown in other parts of the world, it also remained challenged as low-cost competitors eat away at Fitbit's market share. 

Published in Gadget

Xiaomi captured 17 percent of the global wearables marketshare in Q2 2017 and became the world’s largest wearables vendor for the first time ever, overtaking Fitbit and Apple, according to Strategy Analytics research. Global wearables shipments reached 22 million units in the quarter.

Steven Waltzer, Industry Analyst at Strategy Analytics, said, “Global wearables shipments reached 21.6 million units in Q2 2017, rising 8 percent annually from 20.0 million in Q2 2016. Strong demand for low-cost fitness-bands in China and premium smartwatches across the United States drove the uptick.”

Xiaomi shipped 3.7 million wearables worldwide in Q2 2017, rising 23 percent annually from 3.0 million units in Q2 2016. Xiaomi captured 17 percent global marketshare and overtook Fitbit and Apple to become the world’s largest wearables vendor.

Xiaomi’s Mi Band fitness trackers are wildly popular in China, due to their highly competitive pricing and rich features such as heart-rate monitors, step-counters and calendar alerts, said Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics. 

Fitbit shipped 3.4 million wearables for 16 percent marketshare worldwide in Q2 2017, almost halving from 29 percent a year ago. Fitbit is at risk of being trapped in a pincer movement between the low-end fitness-bands sold by Xiaomi and the fitness-led, high-end smartwatches sold by Apple, he said.

“Apple shipped 2.8 million wearables worldwide in Q2 2017, growing 56 percent annually from 1.8 million in Q2 2016,” said Cliff Raskind, Director at Strategy Analytics.

“Apple has for now lost its wearables leadership to Xiaomi, due to a lack of presence in the sizeable fitness-band subcategory. However, the rumored upcoming Watch Series 3 launch with enhanced health tracking could prove to be a popular smartwatch model and enable Apple to reclaim the top wearables spot later this year.”

Published in Gadget
Thursday, 20 July 2017 07:27

Wearables are the future, not smartphones

There’s been talk among analysts that smartphones will slowly become redundant in the future and make way for more innovative communication platforms. Despite the fact that US consumers now own 27 million more smartphones than they did last year, wearables will eventually take the lead, some analysts speculate, as communication requirements evolve over time.

The wearable technology market is expected to grow from US$15.74 billion in 2015 to US$51.60 billion by 2022, at a compound annual growth rate of 15.51 percent between 2016 and 2022, according to market research report ‘Wearable Technology Market by Product, Type, Application, and Geography - Global Forecast to 2022’. This strong growth begs the question: could wearable technology replace the trusty smartphone?  

The future growth of the wearable technology market, according to the research report, is expected to be driven by consumer preference for more sophisticated gadgets, increasing growth prospects of next generation displays in wearable devices, and the growing popularity of internet of things (IoT) and connected devices. The increasing demand for smart gadgets and gaming devices for interactive gaming and entertainment is “driving the growth of the wearable technology market for the consumer electronics vertical.”

“I don’t think smartphones are going to disappear in the short-term, but the usage of smartphones may change as people begin to use them for different things, from entertainment to communication,” said Hani Yassan, senior director of Technology at Qualcomm, speaking recently at 5G MENA in Dubai. “The change in usage will be driven by all the advances in technology that we are seeing through LTE and 5G.”

Analyst Jonathan Collins, research director at ABI Research covering smart homes, believes that smartphones will remain the central interface in most locations, but will sit alongside other interfaces in the homes of consumers, such as AI-powered digital assistants (e.g. Amazon Echo, Google Home). Google CEO Sundar Pichai even suggested in 2016 that the world is moving from being “mobile first” to “AI first”.

Contrary to this argument, the Consumer Technology Association’s 19th Annual Consumer Technology Ownership and Market Potential Study says televisions remain the most popular technology device in the US, as they have for decades: almost every household (96 percent) owns at least one TV. However, from 2016 to 2017, the US market saw an increase in the overall installed base of connected devices including smart home devices, smart TVs, wearables and wireless speakers.

Smart home devices, smart TVs, smartwatches, wearable activity trackers and wireless speakers each saw an increase in household ownership of four percent year on year, according to the study. The wearable tech market is thriving, despite the fact that some wearable fitness brands, such as Fitbit, have lost demand, IDC’s Worldwide Wearable Device Tracker indicates.

In March 2017, IDC reported that the worldwide wearables market reached a new all-time high as shipments reached 33.9 million units in the fourth quarter of 2016, growing 16.9 percent year on year. Shipments for the entire year grew 25 percent as new vendors entered the market and previous champions refreshed their product lineups.

Xiaomi’s wearable products experienced the fastest growth, up 96.2 percent from 2.6 million to 5.2 million, due partly to its growing exposure to the Western world, but also because of Chinese shipments for its newest trackers such as the Mi Band Pulse. Apple also experienced a steady increase in growth, from 4.1 million to 4.6 million, following the launch of the Apple Watch Series 2.

Fitbit maintained its dominance in the wearables market, holding the top position for both the quarter and the year. However, the company also faced one of its largest declines ever as it remained heavily focused on the US, a market that is quickly approaching saturation for fitness trackers. Though the company has grown in other parts of the world, it also remained challenged as low-cost competitors eat away at Fitbit's market share.

Samsung, on the other hand, is the only major player offering cellular-enabled wearables (Gear S3 and Frontier). LTE connectivity has been a key differentiator for Samsung's watches as it has helped decouple them from smartphones, but more importantly it has opened up a new channel (telcos) to help promote the Samsung watches. Outside of watches, Samsung's portfolio also includes the Gear Fit 2 and the Icon X, though without any smartphone bundles, volumes for these wearables were lower than expected. 

Early on, the wearables market was split between those that were capable of running third party applications and basic wearables that couldn’t. However, despite the additional features and tech available on smart wearables, their utility and necessity has been “questionable”. Earlier this year, two major platforms, WatchOS and Android Wear, pivoted towards fitness and health applications. This is no accident, says IDC, as that has been the only use case with any "stickiness" and the ability to run third party apps has taken a backseat.

“Like any technology market, the wearables market is changing,” noted Ramon Llamas, research manager for IDC's Wearables team. “Basic wearables started out as single-purpose devices tracking footsteps and are morphing into multi-purpose wearable devices, fusing together multiple health and fitness capabilities and smartphone notifications. It's enough to blur the lines against most smart wearables, to the point where first generation smartwatches are no better than most fitness trackers.”

“Meanwhile, smart wearables are also evolving,” Llamas continued. “Health and fitness remains a major focus, but once these devices become connected to a cellular network, expect unique applications and communications capabilities to become available. This will also solve another key issue: freeing the device from the smartphone, creating a standalone experience.”

The evolution of smartphones into more wearable and practical communication tools could greatly benefit the emergency response sector, says Peter Clemons, founder and managing director at Quixoticity, a company founded in 2012 to develop new ideas in the field of critical communications.

Critical communications, emergency services and public safety currently function with mission critical voice and data which is limited and not always 100% reliable. This has served the industry sufficiently, says Clemons, but 5G will be able to open up new possibilities for the sector in terms of wearables, remote surgery, autonomous vehicles, etc., for use by first responders and for utilities by transport companies to have more awareness of a situation and to respond effectively.

“Particularly in the emergency services space, there needs to be a response as soon as an incident happens. The first responder has to be completely focused on the incident. The smartphone is not a particularly good device for emergency services,” said Clemons, adding that emergency responders could benefit from imbedding communications into uniforms to provide in-built coverage.

“If Steve Jobs had lived longer I think he would have already made the iPhone obsolete, but I think the people who took over from him saw the cash-cow in it and it may take a new company to disrupt that,” Clemons said. “We are just at the beginning of a long road towards where we want to get to, and it’s important for us to continue taking advantage of existing investments that have been made.”

2016 proved that there is more to wearables than just wrist-worn devices, according to IDC. Ear-worn devices (hearables) surpassed 1 percent of all shipments for the first time in a quarter and sensor-laden clothing accounted for more than 1 percent of the entire market for the full year 2016. Though these numbers were miniscule, they show promise as numerous new devices are expected from notable vendors in 2017 and beyond.

Published in Reports
Tuesday, 16 August 2016 11:54

Samsung Gear S3 to release on August 31

With Samsung holding its IFA electronics show press conference on September 1 in Germany this year, rumors quickly spread that the Korean tech giant would release its highly anticipated Gear S3 smartwatch at the same time. Ending speculation, Samsung recently confirmed on Twitter that the Samsung Gear S3 will be unveiled on August 31.

While Samsung hasn’t released much, if any details about its new smartwatch, some reports suggest that there will be three variants of the device, including a Gear S3 Classic, a Gear S3 Frontier and a Gear S3 Explorer. In terms of physical appearance, it’s said that the Gear S3 will keep its original, round shaped appearance, as well as the rotary bezel.

Smartwatches have been met with mixed reviews since the idea was launched in full-effect by Samsung and its rival Apple. According to analyst estimates, smartwatch sales have dropped this year. Samsung was one of just a few firms that were able to hold or improve its sales, while Apple’s smartwatch sales dipped. Samsung is reportedly releasing the Gear S3 in order to boost its smartwatch sales and regain interest in the concept, especially since Apple is predicted to refresh its own smartwatch range in September.

Samsung’s previous smartwatch model, the Gear S2, launched in September 2015 at the very same game show that the Gear S3 will be launched at. The Gear S2 was met with optimism, thanks to its attractive interface and unique spinning bezel. There’s been suggestions that perhaps the reason smartwatch sales have been down this year is because people are waiting for the latest Samsung and Apple smartwatches to be released, so that they can get their hands on the fresh devices as opposed to buying new previous model versions.

Samsung is keeping understandably quiet about the details of its new smartwatch design to keep its customers keen and excited. The only way to find out more is to wait for the release, which will be streamed online like all other Samsung unveilings, for you to watch at your own convenience.

Published in Devices