Online media may be given to headline hyperbole, but considering the flurry of enthusiastic news articles that followed the launch of Ringly, a cocktail ring that alerts the wearer when she gets a message on her smartphone, it's pretty clear that people are thirsting for good-looking wearable devices. This week they got a little more of what they wanted, in the form of two product announcements: The Activité fitness tracker watch from the French health-tech company Withings, and Google's LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live smartwatches, which run on Android Wear software.
Let's start with the Withings, which debuted on Tuesday and will drop this fall for the low, low cost of $390. Yes, it's pricey. It's also the most attractive piece of wearable tech we've seen thus far, easily. Combining chrome and leather in a way that's cool and minimalist, it's the type of thing your imaginary architect boyfriend would wear. You'd then love it so much that you'd steal it for yourself.
Like other fitness trackers before it, the Activité watch uses an internal accelerometer to clock your daily steps, calories burned and sleep patterns, all of which gets pushed to a companion app on the wearer's phone via Bluetooth LE. Unlike other fitness trackers, classic style is at the forefront of its design: Withings is pushing the fact that it's French-designed and Swiss-made, with French leather calf bands made by the same tanneries used by couture houses. To fully drive home its fashion bent, Withings tapped self-proclaimed wearable tech evangelist Nina Garcia to present at its unveiling.
Then there was the big announcement of the LG G Smartwatch and Samsung Gear Live at Google's I/O developer conference on Wednesday, which went on pre-sale on Google Play that same day. While the Withings watch is exciting for its commitment to analog aesthetics, these two are all about the movement toward translating a phone's functionality to a wearable format.
Sleek but decidedly techy, the squared-off screens are the design focus here, because they're meant to pair with a phone to transmit information you don't want to miss -- i.e., weather reports in the morning, calendar notifications, driving directions or text message and email alerts. And they take voice commands.
What do you think? Is it finally time to spring for a smart watch?