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Summary:

After a few mediocre attempts at a smartwatch, will Sony get it right this time? We’ll find out as early as next week according to tips from the official Sony Xperia Twitter account.

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It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what Sony plans to announce at next week’s Mobile Asia Expo in Shanghai. All you have to do is look at the company’s Sony Xperia Twitter feed. Based on these two tweets, an updated or — more likely — a new smartwatch will be introduced, marking the company’s third attempt in this wearable market.

Here’s the evidence for you to piece the “puzzle” together:

Perhaps the third time’s a charm?

Clearly, Sony’s got a plan for a new smartwatch. And it should. In 2010 and again in 2012, Sony brought this very product-type to market and although it might have been ahead of its time, it wasn’t a device for the masses. I say that after buying my own Sony Live View watch and testing it in 2011. Even at the 50 percent discounted price for a used model — the device sold new for $150 — it ended up in my desk drawer within days.

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I’m hoping Sony has addressed the biggest problem I had back then: Connectivity. That’s a key aspect of any wearable gadget that acts as a second screen to a smartphone. If the watch can’t hold its wireless connection to the phone — and the Live View I used was terrible with this — you won’t get notifications, caller ID information, weather or other data from the smartphone. My guess is that Sony will be using a newer Bluetooth standard, such as Bluetooth 4.0, for its new smartwatch.

Does a smartwatch require a phone? Nope.

Of course, that assumes the new product actually requires a phone. It’s possible for a smartwatch to work just fine without one, for certain functions at least. The Motorola MotoACTV smartwatch that I bought in 2012 and still use today is a perfect example.

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Inside is not only a Bluetooth radio, but also Wi-Fi and GPS radios as well. This allows the watch to sync data to and from the web without any smartphone interaction. And I can use it without a phone as a GPS on the golf course (complete with club recommendations!) or as an exercise tracker when running or biking. For phone-centric data — incoming calls or texts, for example — a phone connection is still required.

What to expect

So what do I expect next week? I’m sure Sony will have finally nailed down the connectivity challenges that a watch that acts as a second screen for a phone has faced. And the device will very likely work with Android phones, just like its predecessors. That opens the door for developers to create lighter versions of their Android phone apps; after all, you won’t be able to do much with a small screen.

What I’d really like to see, however, is the standalone type of wearable like my current watch. There are times when wearing a watch shouldn’t require carrying a phone, such as while exercising. It’s fine for a smartwatch to use a phone’s persistent web connection but with today’s technology, it shouldn’t be a stretch for a smartwatch to work on its own as well.

  1. Frank A NYC Friday, June 21, 2013

    As a watch wearer (non smart watch) I am struggling to see the appeal of these devices. I like mobile tech and I like watches, but a smart watch doesn’t make sense to me. I have a 720p, 4.7″ phone, why would I want to interact with it on a low res 2″ screen? What I like about watches is the style, the feel and the mechanical nature of it. I like the hands, the face etc. Other watch wearers out there, am I alone in this thinking?

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    1. I like the Pebble or the Agent watches. They aren’t meant to replace a smartphone but complement them. Something I would be interested in. They work in tandem. Alerting you to who is texting or calling without the need to pull out your phone in a meeting or dinner. Allowing you to control your music if your device is on it’s speaker dock, rather than walking to it. Might sound silly, but nice at a gathering or small party. I don’t wish to read email, browse the web, steam netflix on my watch, but there are some notices I wouldn’t mind getting without pulling my phone all the time.

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