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Summary:

As the Pebble smartwatch proved, to help sell a wearable device, you need support for iOS. Thanks to the new iOS 6 software, which now supports text message sharing over Bluetooth, the MetaWatch team is banking on Apple fans to fund its new Strata smartwatch.

strata-incoming-call

Apple’s iOS 6 software adds numerous features to iPods, iPhones and iPads and it looks to add a key feature to Bluetooth devices too: the ability to wirelessly send data from iMessage to paired devices. That addition, plus the power of crowdsourced fundraising, have caused smartwatch company MetaWatch to shift strategies by offering an iOS-compatible watch on Kickstarter. The wearable device is called the Strata, and the company plans to start delivering the smartwatch as early as September.

That sounds like a very aggressive timeframe, especially since the comparable Pebble watch is delayed. But MetaWatch — founded by people that originally worked on connected watches at Fossil — has the experience to deliver. And the product is similar to the currently available MetaWatch for Android devices, so the Strata team isn’t starting from scratch; all of the design and testing work is already done.

Here’s a look at the Strata, available in multiple colors and made for sports and active lifestyles:

Overall, the device looks similar to the original MetaWatch I reviewed last year. I was exteremely impressed with the display, battery life and wireless range; the watch stayed connected with my smartphone even when I was 80 feet away from my handset.

The key differences between then and now? Instead of Android support, the Strata is going after the iOS crowd because of Apple opening up more phone data for Bluetooth use. Like I said with the Pebble: If you want to sell a hot smartwatch, you just need to add iPhone support. And instead of pitching MetaWatch solely as a platform for developers or a device to license, the MetaWatch team is attempting to sell a consumer product.

Will the Strata become the first iOS smartwatch to ship, beating out the Pebble? That’s up to you and your wallet; the Kickstarter project needs to $100,000 in funding by August 20. For a $159 pledge, you can get your own Strata, complete with notifications for SMS, Twitter, Facebook, email, incoming calls and more on your wrist.

  1. Simon Cohen Friday, July 27, 2012

    Interesting. I owned a Fossil-made MSN Direct watch back in 2002 and enjoyed it a lot, but the chunky square design which the Strata seems to have preserved was not the most practical for daily wear. I much prefer Pebble’s sleeker look which I think will appeal to people who want an all-day watch, not just one that is worn during active sports.

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    1. I had one of the SPOT watches back then too, Simon, so I hear you. And I agree the MetaWatch is a little boxy; this one looks slightly nicer than the one I reviewed. Ironically, I wear my MotoActv smartwatch daily and it’s just as bulky; I never thought I’d wear it daily, but I do.

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    2. Bill Geiser Friday, July 27, 2012

      Our respective designs (Pebble & STRATA) is a direct by product of the choice of displays. Both displays are memory LCD’s manufactured by Sharp. We selected Sharp’s Polymer Network LCD for several reasons:
      1. It’s aesthetic qualities. Its unlike any other display you’ve seen. We know from our days at Fossil that displays that resemble traditional LCD’s have a rather low perceived value.
      2. It’s spectacular in direct sunlight. It’s almost 100% reflective.
      3. It’s excellent in power consumption allowing us to keep it on 24×7.
      4. We preferred its size over over Sharp’s other display. In our opinion it was too long. A watch with a 50mm dimension is a tad big. For reference, STRATA measures 42mm x 42mm & is 14mm thin.

      As for comparisons with Pebble’s sleeker looks, that’s premature. The best and only way to compare these products is to see them in the real. And, at present, only one of us can produce an off-tool production prototype.

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      1. I second your comments on the screen Bill; it’s super readable and low power consumption make it a solid choice. Looking forward to seeing the final result for Strata!

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  2. I really hope they put NFC in a future smartwatch. If NFC becomes a choice for paying at subways I’d hate to have to pull out my smartphone and tap it so I can go through. A watch is more natural and harder for those with sticky fingers to try and take.

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    1. Love that idea!

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    2. Bill Geiser Friday, July 27, 2012

      we started development on the current metawatch platform in early 2010…..had NFC been a bit further along it probably would be in now. I agree with Kevin, its a great idea.

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  3. I also agree with the grey-scale LCD screen choice if it means lower power consumption which in turn would seem to translate into fewer charges or battery change-outs. To me the color screen’s power consumption (compounded of course by its GPS/WiFi radios) is one of the downsides of the Motoactv. On the other hand, the Motoactv has a lot of independent functionality. I might need three wrists, one for the Strata, one for the Pebble, and one for my Motoactv — or even a fourth for my OnHand PC). P.S. the video headline suggests Android compatibility…is that available in the same watch or will there be unique watches for each platform (iOS and Android)?

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    1. Great points on the screen bits, Richard. I love my MotoActv (and its color screen) but I do have to charge it daily for sure. As far as the iOS vs. Android Strata watch, I don’t see where you can order a watch for one platform or the other, which suggests it works with both. Good for me, my iPhone 4S and Galaxy Nexus! ;)

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    2. Bill Geiser Friday, July 27, 2012

      one watch…..will work with iOS or Android.

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  4. I feel like there’s an inherent conflict here: if a watch is small enough to not appear too big and clunky, it’s too small to touch and read information. If it’s big enough to touch and read information, it’s too big and clunky. The tech crowd may like this product but I don’t see it going mainstream.

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  5. Bill, If the watch is BT 4.0 how are you using the MAP profile in iOS 6? Isn’t MAP a BT 2.1 Profile?

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    1. Boris,

      Bluetooth 4.0 is often associated as being single-mode BLE (now called Smart). That’s not the case. In fact, our radio is ‘dual mode’ and supports both ‘classic’ and BLE/Smart forms of Bluetooth communication.

      Bill

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