Welcome to our roundup of the biggest news in the world of wearable tech. This week we've got news of multiple hot new Android Wear watches dropping, as well as more bad news for Fitbit – which is racking up at such a rate these days, we wonder when it's going to get a break.
But at least the bad news is being shared around this week. We've got news of a setback for Apple, but just to cheer us all, it looks like Oculus has got a big trick up its sleeve to get itself into more people's hands (or more accurately, on their heads).
Just another week in the world of wearable technology.
Flurry of Android Wear watches
Not one but two new Android Wear devices have landed this week – with another lifestyle brand joining Google's army of luxury tech hopefuls.
The first is Louis Vuitton, which has announced the Tambour Horizon smartwatch – and the company looks to have embraced customization. In addition to the 60 strap options are three models: black, graphite and monogram. They're all 42mm, which just edges into the world of unisex, and as such, half of the 60 straps are female focused.
In terms of tech there's a 1.2-inch, 390 x 390 resolution AMOLED touchscreen and it sports Android Wear 2.0 out of the box, as you'd expect, so it'll play nice with Android and iPhone smartphones. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 2100 processor runs the show – the same you'll find at the heart of the LG Watch Sport and Style. In addition, there's the usual 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. Oh, and it starts at a modest $2,400. Eek.
On the opposite end of the scale are the new Ticwatch S and Ticwatch E, which also run Android Wear 2.0. You may remember last year's Ticwatch 2, which used the Chinese company's own Ticwatch OS. It brought some good ideas to the table, but paled in comparison to Google's now mature, second-generation wearable operating system.
What the Ticwatch 2 did offer was a maxed out feature set, including GPS and a heart rate monitor – and that ethos hasn't changed here. While the Ticwatch S is designed to be the sportier of the two, both watches feature a heart rate monitor, built-in GPS and are identical in all of their software features.
The Ticwatch S is the more premium offering, as reflected in its higher price tag of $199 next to the E's $159. The company is launching on Kickstarter with a host of early-bird discounts, and is aiming to release in Q4 2017.
While Louis Vuitton's and Mobvoi's smartwatches are chalk and cheese in terms of design and price, their release shows that Google is still picking up momentum as the smartwatch market continues to grow. Not only the pick of fashion brands who don't have the resources of inclination to build their own OS, Google is now attracting tech companies – namely Mobvoi and Misfit – who are ready to abandon their own OS projects in favour of Google's. Just like the phone market, there's little advantage in struggling on your own.
Elsewhere in the world of smartwatches, Apple has extended the warranty of first-gen Apple Watches after a flurry of complaints. An issue with sub-standard adhesive holding the heart rate monitor in place has forced the company to offer a longer repair period, beyond the standard one year.
And talking of Android Wear, be sure to check out our Montblanc Summit review, hot off the presses.
Fitbit embroiled in haptics lawsuit
After years of unbridled success, Fitbit can't catch a break. With dire projections of its fitness tracker sales and flat revenues, now haptics company Immersion has filed a lawsuit, accusing Fitbit of infringing its IP.
The lawsuit centres on haptics used for notifications and interactions with Fitbit devices, which effectively targets every tracker in the range. Immersion is seeking to stop Fitbit making, using or selling infringing Fitbit devices including Fitbit Blaze, Flex, Flex 2, Alta, Alta HR, Charge, Charge 2, Charge HR and Surge. In other words, if this succeeds, it's going to be catastrophic.
Interestingly, Immersion has tried to do a deal with Fitbit to license its patent – but no agreement was reached.
Siri on the slide
Siri has been the voice assistant-elect since its inception back in 2014, but it seems the dominant AI has suffered a setback. Figures released by Verto Analytics reveal that Siri lost 7.3 million monthly users — down to 41.4 million from 48.7 million – in the year since May 2016.
So what's behind the decrease? Well, more people are getting involved with rival assistants, including Amazon's Alexa found on Echo devices and Google Home. Users of Alexa have soared from 800,000 to 2.3 million in the last year. Maybe it's because Siri is starting to lag behind? Our experiences have shown Alexa to be far superior in terms of functionality and Siri hasn't progressed at the same rate.
Cheap Oculus rumoured
Oculus has been quiet of late, and didn't even attend the massive VR bonanza at E3 last month. But it seems the Facebook-owned company may have a trick up its sleeve. Bloomberg has reported that the company is set to release a cheaper, standalone headset, untethered from a PC, codenamed Oculus Pacific. It's expected to cost $200 – and to offer a balance between the fully fledged PC-powered experience and mobile set-ups like the (Oculus backed) Samsung Gear VR. It also this week announced that it will finally bundle Oculus Touch in the box with every Rift headset, for a total price of $499. Even better, the two are currently slashed to $399 for a temporary period of time, so if you've been sitting on the fence, now is a good time to jump into the Rift.
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