There’s no doubt that 2014 has been the year of the wearable, and from humble beginnings back in January, the nascent industry has exploded over the last 12 months – and the biggest player of all is yet to enter the market.
Essential reading: 50 biggest things in wearable tech for 2015
As the year draws to a close, we turn our weekly round up of the biggest stories of the week to 2014 as a whole. So without further ado, we give you the year in wearable tech.
Wearables grow and grow and grow
If there was any doubt that 2014 was the year of the wearable, the stats told the story. Aside from the rise of Android Wear smartwatches and of course the Apple Watch, some analysts’ predictions pointed to a near 350% year-on-year rise in sales.
If that wasn’t enough, Samsung predicted that over 1m wearables would be sold at Christmas in the UK alone.
Wearable devices are set to exceed 168m global shipments by 2019 (up from 5.9 million in 2013). Elsewhere fitness trackers are set to slump in sales from next year, before smart clothing picks up the slack and outgrows fitness bands by 2016.
Apple Watch dreamin’
The story of the Apple Watch started long before its announcement on the 9 September. Apple’s long-rumoured “iWatch” gained momentum through the year, and befittingly Cupertino’s first new product line since Steve Jobs’ passing was unveiled as “just one more thing.”
The watch itself divided opinion, with many expecting more of a nod to classic watch design, rather than the square-screen smartwatch that appeared. It was also richer in features than many predicted, with fitness features, Apple Pay and a plethora of apps all supported.
Details were scarce, and Apple wouldn’t be drawn on an exact release date other than “early 2015.” It seems that even Apple is susceptible to the shortages, manufacturing issues and fears over demand that have plagued the wearable industry in 2014.
We’ve rounded up everything you need to know about the Apple Watch including its release date and features and done some digging into the team behind working on Apple’s wearable behind closed doors.
Samsung leads smartwatch race
While Apple was cooking up its smartwatch, Samsung was grabbing the market and ended 2014 as the leader in the nascent space. Between in the year up until August 2014 the Korean mega-giant announced six different smartwatches, unveiling the Samsung Gear S at IFA in September.
As well as updates to its Samsung Gear range, the company also launched a single Android Wear device in the Samsung Gear Live. The Samsung Gear S was the pick of the crop, ditching the need for a smartphone companion by requiring its own SIM card and data plan.
The giant smart bangle also upped the screen stakes with a colossal 2-inch Super AMOLED display, with a record setting 300ppi count. However, although the requirement for users to take out a second data plan stunted its appeal.
We’ve rounded up the best smartwatches and penned a buyer’s guide on how to choose the right smartwatch for your needs.
Razer Nabu takes all year
One of the 2014’s most ambitious wearables was the Razer Nabu, which also turned into a year-long saga. The band was announced on 7 January at CES, yet only went on sale on 2 December.
The band is unique because it acts more as a smartwatch than a fitness device, adding smart features such as calls, text, Google Maps, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Skype and WeChat notifications.
Despite the wait, the Razer Nabu is still only available in the US, with users from the rest of the world left without news of a general release date.
If you’re looking for a new wearable device and can’t wait for the Razer Nabu, check out our round up of the best wearable bands. Those looking for notifications would also love our round up of the best smart jewelry.
Android Wear ushers in smarter watches
Google’s Android Wear platform was one of the big developments of 2014, as the company tried to repeat its smartphone trick with wearable tech.
The OS is based on Google Now, an existing part of Android and while it’s early days and there are plenty of flaws to iron out, there’s plenty of promise. What’s more, Google has already rolled out two Android Wear updates.
Android Wear users can get hold of our growing list of tutorials and how-tos, including how to install apps and how to add watch faces. We also have a tips and tricks feature for Android Wear, and a guide to all the latest features.
Best features of the year
While a lot of the focus has been the plethora of new devices hitting the market, at Wareable we’ve been busy digging behind this exciting new area.
We’ve unearthed the dangers of wearable data, how future wearables will read our mind and emotions and the future of connected cars and wearables in travel. We also uncovered how wearable tech will change our sex lives.