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I’m Android wristwatch: hands-on photos

Last year CES was full of wrist cases for turning an iPod Nano into a watch; this year the Dick Tracey look came courtesy of Motorola’s MOTOACTV fitness tracker watch and the Android i’m Watch. This Italian-designed gadget isn’t a phone itself; think of it as a Bluetooth-connected secondary touch screen for your phone that you wear on your wrist.
The i’m Watch works with any smartphone as long as the phone, you network and your contract support tethering; it syncs email, text messages, contacts and calendar appointments to the 4GB of storage so you can see them on your wrist. It also comes with a mix of apps for looking at photos and playing music from your phone, checking the weather forecast and staying up to date with Twitter and Facebook. For a low €9.99 a year you can stream music from the i’music selection of 6 million tracks.
You can answer incoming calls or bring up a keypad and make a call, but holding your wrist up to your mouth may not be comfortable for more than a short conversation (plus you’re going to look like a not very stealthy secret agent). And of course, you can use it as a watch, with an analogue or digital display.
The watch runs Android 1.6 and there’s an SDK for developers to create new apps for the planned i’m marketplace; many of the existing services work through Google App Engine. CEO Massimiliano Bertolini told us 400 developers have signed up and are working on apps for controlling your lights or tracking how far you walk or run. However the features apps can offer will be slightly limited by the size of the screen and what Android 1.6 supports.

At 70g this isn’t the heaviest watch around and it’s quite thin, but you’ll need large wrists not to find it a little outsized. You also have to recharge the watch every night, like a phone (using the power jack which also lets you plug in headphones or connect a data cable from your PC). That would work rather better with something like an inductive charger, which Bertolini told us might come in the future.
There are three ranges of case and strap; the aluminium case and silicon strap (available in a range of colours) is the cheapest with prices from $249, there’s a slightly pricier titanium version and the sky is the limit for the premium fashion line. Bertolini told us the company has had 100,000 preorders, including one rather extravagantly decorated with white gold and diamonds for a Russian customer.

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