As we edge closer to an impending announcement from Samsung, the rumors are showing no signs of subsiding. The latest group of rumors are spreading under the codename "Project J." Until recently, most thought Project J was what Samsung insiders called the Galaxy S IV but Sammobile reports that it could be much more. Project J is the codename given to the Korean company's latest trio of devices gunning for the mobile market and beyond. I have high hopes for Samsung's three Project J devices. The rumors suggest a Galaxy S IV Mini might also be a part of Samsung's Project J. And then there's device number three: Project J "Altius" - Samsung's response to the growing shenanigans around Apple's iWatch, the Pebble smartwatch, and the Neptune Pine.
There's something unequivocally simple about a smartwatch that entices me like no other gadget. I've been looking for the perfect device to substitute for my smartphone when I can't lug it around. I'm also looking for a solid companion while exercising. A smartwatch can solve both of my dilemmas.
First, it was the Neptune Pine smartwatch that revved me up, and now it's Samsung's smartwatch. Maybe it's because you won't have to worry about product support from a huge manufacturer like Samsung. Or maybe it's the faith I have in Samsung's propensity to deliver a product that just works. Whatever it is, if there's any OEM who should be making a smartwatch, it's Samsung.
Samsung's Project J "Altius" looks set to be a legitimate Apple iWatch rival. Unofficially called the Samsung Galaxy Altius, we are looking at a new path for the Korean company on the software front. However, you'd need to look back 10 years to find Samsung's original watch - the Samsung Watch Phone. With an OLED display, 2G network connectivity, and polyphonic sounds, it wasn't much of a hit to say the least...unless you needed a phone on your wrist. Then it was magical.
However, their second try is looking set to be a bit more successful. Early yesterday, alleged screenshots of Samsung's smartwatch leaked. The screenshots are not confirmed but the device's existence nearly is. Judging by the UI, it's looking like a completely different approach to the active lifestyle. As you can see in the image, it's looking oddly reminiscent of a Windows Phone device with tiles for music, notifications, and the time. Clearly, we aren't looking at anything official and the screenshots should be taken with a grain of salt but it's intriguing nonetheless.
If these are indeed screenshots of Samsung's Galaxy Altius, I'm thoroughly impressed. I've long praised Microsoft's in-and-out approach to mobile computing. If you only have time for a quick glance at your tech, Windows Phone shouldn't be brushed off. It's easy to navigate, simple, and fluid. But on the flip-side of Windows Phone's simplistic tiles is a certain lack of robustness. If Samsung's smartwatch UI turns out to be similar to these screenshots, I think Samsung is doing the smartwatch UI right.
However, if I said I wasn't a bit hesitant about Samsung's smartwatch, I wouldn't be telling the truth. My main concerns with the screenshots is a lack of navigation buttons, or location titles (like back, home, menu). It wouldn't be outrageous to think the screen will be around 2 to 3-inches in diameter like the Pebble and the Neptune Pine, but these devices are completely different animals. Where the Galaxy Altius will most likely go down a completely touch-based UI, the Pebble uses physical buttons for navigation. The Neptune Pine is a miniaturized Android smartphone running a heavily customized OS dubbed "Leaf" and thus uses touch gestures just like any Android-powered smartphone. In other words, it won't be hard to navigate.
So, where would that leave Samsung's smartwatch? We're going to have to wait and see. Samsung will most likely gun for whatever smartwatch Apple cooks up but it wouldn't be outlandish to think Samsung's smartwatch will be less expensive. For this reason alone, Samsung may hold a clear advantage in the market of wearable tech.
Here are my recommendations to make Samsung's Galaxy Altius smartwatch that much smarter:
- A bright, curved, OLED display to utilize deep blacks while being used as a watch
- Simple and solid construction with plenty of rubber for durability
- Bluetooth, NFC connectivity, Wi-Fi, and a premium model with full-network connectivity options for those looking to ditch their smartphone while exercising
- Software to rival Fitbit, Runkeeper, and the like
- Connectivity and pairing with other Galaxy devices
It's that time of year when rumors flood the mobile arena and Samsung's Project J is gaining momentum. What I'm most excited about with a smartwatch is the option to ditch my smartphone, yet stay connected while on-the-run. Do you think a Samsung smartwatch will be able to compete with Apple's offering? Are you interested in a smartwatch with my recommendations, or would you add something else? Let me know in the comments below.
Image via Phandroid.