Sony’s SmartWatch 2 Versus Samsung’s Galaxy Gear: Two Very Different Smartwatches Face Off

Sony’s new smartwatch, which is actually named the SmartWatch 2, has been a known quantity since its official announcement in June at the Mobile Asia Expo in Shanghai, and now the Samsung Galaxy Gear has been itemized by its creators in Berlin at IFA. Meaning it’s time for the two to square off in our blogger arena of champions for a spec and feature showdown.

Sony Smartwatch specs

  • 1.6-inch, 220×176 display
  • Aluminum body
  • Micro USB charging
  • Compatible with most Android phones
  • NFC and Bluetooth 3.0 for connectivity
  • 3 to 4 days battery under normal use
  • €199 ($262 U.S), Ships in late September
  • No camera, mic or speakers

Samsung Galaxy Gear specs

  • 1.63-inch, 320×320 display
  • Stainless steel body
  • Snap-on, proprietary USB 3.0 charger
  • 800MHz Exynos single-core processor
  • Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • Compatible with new Galaxy devices, previous gen Galaxy support coming soon
  • Around 1 day of use
  • 4GB of onboard storage
  • $299
  • Ships in September (October for U.S.)
  • 1.9 megapixel camera, 720p video recording, speaker + 2 mics
  • Gyroscope and accelerometer for workout tracking

The SmartWatch 2 isn’t cheap at €199; in fact, it’s the same price as the newly-reduced 8GB Nexus 4 model. Samsung’s is $299 and much more full-featured, with Samsung managing to pack a whole host of A/V equipment in its device. It also runs a number of Android apps out of the box, which have been redesigned specifically for the watch.

SmartWatch 2 does have NFC for easy pairing with Android devices that support it, as well as more battery life, a better, higher resolution screen, and water/environment resistance that should keep your device protected from general grit and submersion at 3 feet for up to 30 minutes. Sony’s also doing a big push for bringing third-party apps to the SmartWatch software platform, which could help narrow the gap there.

Overall though, as you can see from the list of specs above, there’s not really much of a competition between the two devices in terms of features; but Sony’s SmartWatch 2 has an edge in battery life owing to its much more narrow feature set, and it offers wider support for other Android devices out of the box.

These are two very different definitions of the term “smartwatch,” with the more ambitious vision coming from Samsung. Aside from the steep requirement of apparent (temporary?) platform lock-in, I’m definitely much more intrigued by the Gear, but I also suspect both devices will find a mostly limited receptive audience among consumers.

Original news: http://techcrunch.com/2013/09/04/sonys-smartwatch-2-versus-samsungs-galaxy-gear-two-very-different-smartwatches-face-off/

Keepy Is An App That Wants To Be The Refrigerator Door To Your Kid’s Macaroni Art

Nobody wants to throw away their child’s artwork, but when crayon drawings accumulate, finding a way to store the piles of 8.5″ x 11″s can be difficult.

After dealing with this problem first-hand, Offir Gutelzon, who sold his last company to Getty Images for $20 million two years ago, has launched new iOS app called Keepy that aims to be an intergenerational social platform and digital refrigerator door for children’s schoolwork, art, and keepsakes.

On Keepy, parents can snap a photo of their son’s macaroni masterpiece, frame it, and add a voiceover or video. Relatives who subscribe to their feed can then add video comments, building a family conversation and, over time, an interactive scrapbook.

Because a photo of a report card doesn’t carry the same memory as the original, the addition of video is meant to put some of that emotional weight back into digital storage.

“I talked to parents and found out that when you take a photo, it doesn’t have enough emotional feeling around it because the picture is blurry or unframed, or it’s just a piece of paper on the table,” Gutelzon said. “What we’re doing is taking tech into one place to build their family emotional timeline.”

Gutelzon said that Keepy is still finalizing its seed round and will announce it in 4-6 weeks, although this SEC filing puts it at about $1 million.

The first 50 Keepies come free with the download, and parents can get more with a one time in-app fee, or by sharing Keepy with their friends. That also comes with lifetime storage on Keepy’s cloud, which can then be linked to a Dropbox account.

Keepy is rolling out what may be the best aspect of its platform in the coming months: the addition of video, rather than photo, as alternate type of post. Showing family videos has become something of a free-for-all since camcorders were replaced with smartphones, and Keepy could be a helpful catalogue and private forum for that.

The company will also be releasing an app for Android, adding more language options to its system, and building a network of international parent ambassadors to spread the word. There is also potential to build out Keepy as a platform for school fundraisers, Gutelzon said, which would enable it to share revenue with schools.

A number of family apps like RedRover and Life360 focus on GPS location, while WhatsApp and Tango can keep family members in communication. Gutelzon said that Keepy isn’t trying to replicate another communication channel, but rather become a growing memory box for families.

“Keeping it digital lets you keep more and document more,” Gutelzon said. “You can still keep the original piece, and I do as well, but when you get 20 or 30 pieces of offline content every week, or you have boxes and boxes, at some point you have to look back and ask what you’re going to do.”

Original news: http://techcrunch.com/2013/09/04/keepy-is-an-app-that-wants-to-be-the-refrigerator-door-to-your-kids-macaroni-art/

Mobeam Outs Beep’nGo Loyalty Card App For Galaxy S4 And Note 3, But Bets Its Future On Beaming Services

San Francisco startup Mobeam has been awfully quiet since it revealed a whopper of a smartphone partnership earlier this year, and today the reason for that relative silence has become clear. Mobeam announced today that it’s firming up its deal with Samsung by launching its new Beep’nGo app for the Galaxy S4 and Note 3, along with a Beaming Services app it hopes will help drive Mobeam use by developers.

“But wait,” I hear you saying. “What on earth are those?” To really get a feel for what Mobeam is up to, we need to flash back to Samsung’s Galaxy S4 launch event — Mobeam secured a deal to bake its infrared technology into the smartphone that would allow users to effectively use their S4s as rewritable barcodes at point of sales systems in stores. Samsung’s newly-announced Galaxy Note 3 also has that feature built in, which means those two devices are the only ones that Beep’nGo will work with for the time being.

In a nutshell, Beep’nGo is a wallet app that lets users load up their loyalty cards, gift cards, or gym passes (anything with a barcode, really) onto their Samsung device — those barcodes can later be reproduced in the form of infrared flashes wherever needed.

That’s all well and good, but Mobeam’s Beaming Services angle is the really interesting bit — with it, Mobeam is trying to open access its infrared beaming tech to developers and would-be commerce partners. The big problem that would normally arise here is that developers don’t have the sort of low-level access needed to create apps that can use Mobeam’s infrared flashing API. Even worse, if they wanted to gain that sort of access, those developers would have to petition Samsung, a process that can take between weeks and months.

Instead, Mobeam built a Beaming Services app that removes much of that legwork. Developers from banks and other commerce-centric organizations are the real target here — they’ll be able to tap into the Beaming Services app installed on those devices to gain access to those low-level APIs and built out new self-branded apps for their own loyalty and credit cards.

It’s not hard to see how this is a win-win for Samsung and Mobeam — the former gets yet another feature to help push it ahead of the smartphone pack (not to mention a potential competitive edge for its Samsung Wallet), while the latter gets even more buy-in from the world’s biggest smartphone maker. I think Mobeam may really be onto something here, but it can’t let its fortunes rise and fall on the back of a single OEM, no matter how big it is. That’s why Mobeam has spent the past few months trying bring to get other device manufacturers to sign on — CEO Lee wouldn’t name names, but he confirmed that at least one OEM had expressed interest and is aiming to push out its first Mobeam-enabled device early next year.

Original news: http://techcrunch.com/2013/09/04/mobeam-outs-beepngo-loyalty-card-app-for-galaxy-s4-and-note-3-but-bets-its-future-on-beaming-services/