Samsung has today announced plans to release the Gear Fit 2, a wearable wristband with the usual activity monitoring functions, as well as introducing GPS.
The wearable technology market
Wearable technology has never quite taken off in the way that various manufacturers had hoped. Unlike MP3 players and tablets, it seems that people are taking a little longer to adapt to the technology. The Apple Watch, a smartwatch is estimated have sold somewhere between 10 and 12 million units in its first year (compared to 40 million for the first year of the iPod Classic for example). Samsung is ranked fifth in the global list of vendors of wearable technology, and most of that is made up from their smartwatch, so the Gear Fit has a lot of work to do to help them climb them ranks.
Samsung Gear Fit 2
The Gear Fit 2 is the next generation in Samsung’s fitness tracker range, following the original that was released in April 2014. The new device is larger than its earlier iteration; the screen is twice as wide, 1.5-inch super AMOLED display, which is designed to make viewing easier in all light levels. The display is actually presented vertically, not horizontally so there is no need to turn your wrist to be able to read the various outputs.
The biggest new feature apart from the size is the addition of GPS sensors. This can be used to monitor distances covered during a workout and also display a map of the route taken during your run, walk or cycle (or perhaps all three if you are training for a triathlon).
The usual, now standardized features of this range of devices are also present so steps taken, sleep analysis and heart rate are all recorded. It can also recognize various activities you may be doing, which is now becoming an increasingly common feature on these devices.
The band itself is more flexible, so is additionally more comfortable to wear. Samsung have announced that the battery should last three to four days with standard usage and up to five days if left standby mode.
The watch will begin distribution before the end of the year and will cost $179, which is actually $20 cheaper than the first version and considerably cheaper than the $250 it will cost you to wear the latest Fitbit device.
Connection with Android
A lot of the information gathered by the wristband is sent to your smartphone as notifications. However, this a closed loop, and will only work the Android operating system, (and not just any Android, it needs to be no older than 4.4 Kitkat). Samsung have said the device can work perfectly well without a smartphone, but that seems to be a little redundant, as the functionality is severely reduced.
The device, like the recently announced Pebble, will feature a dedicated Spotify app. You can play Spotify through the wristband but at the moment you will need your smartphone with you. As well as this, music can either be stored on the wristband itself (4GB), or the wristband via Bluetooth can be used to play other music from the phone.
The price is certainly attractive, containing the GPS feature, and relative to its competitors in the market. But, until the public get to try them out over an extended period of time it is hard to know whether the Gear Fit 2 will be a success. Luckily for Samsung, versus say Fitbit or Pebble, the company will not live or die on the success of this product.