Today was a remarkable day in Technology. Tech enthusiasts gathered in Berlin at IFA- an expo for new products for presentations from some of the world’s most innovative tech companies. Samsung, Sony and Asus demoed their latest innovations, which ranged from new smartwatches to Virtual Reality headsets. Despite our misleading headline, the day was not remarkable as a result of the products we saw demoed, instead IFA was remarkable as a demonstration of Apple’s ability to dictate the pace of innovation and product release among the aforementioned companies.
Apple is scheduled to release it’s latest and greatest, September 9th and the fear that Apple’s potential announcement induced meant that most of the products demoed today were already disclosed. The companies were so fearful of releasing their own products so close to Apple and the deafening silence that they might receive as a result that almost all blew the wraps off of their products early. Despite their early disclosures the products were note-worthy (pun intended) as Samsung lead the announcements with its New Galaxy Note 4 and Note 4 Edge.
The Note 4 is a reasonable update to the pre-existing Note 3 cell phone but it was the Note 4 Edge that provoked a somewhat suspicious awe from the crowd. Samsung has been steadfast in it’s determination to find a usage for curved screens in just about every product category and the edge is the realization of that determination. It sports a curved screen that serves as a nearly separate display for notifications, newsfeeds and an array of different menus. The concept frees up precious real estate on the home screen and offers an interesting albeit unclear potential for developers. Samsung also took the wraps off of a fully functional watch/ phone. The Gear S is a smartwatch that does not, strictly speaking need a companion cell phone. Whereas all smartwatches to date merely receive forwarded notifications of emails or texts, the Gear S is a standalone phone. You can make calls from it, without a companion phone nearby. Samsung proposed the device as ideal for runners or those that don’t want to carry their phones with them.
The Gear S is rather large and somewhat bulky. It was mocked by many observers but we feel the device has promise. For those that don’t spend countless hours browsing on their phone or for those who “need” the use of their hands, this device could be ideal!
Lastly Samsung introduced the VR Headset in cooperation with virtual reality impresarios Oculus Rift. The device is a simple headset that has a slot for the Galaxy Note 4 cell phone which serves as the virtual reality screen. If this sounds odd, Virtual Reality headset maker Oculus Rift (purchased by Facebook) has utilized Samsung’s Note Screens for it’s own headsets. The device is the first mainstream, mobile, Virtual Reality headset for mass consumption.
Tech Giant Asus also released it’s first wearable, the ZenWatch. It is a luxurious device that purports to measure relaxation levels while displaying Google Notifications and running Android Wear- the designated operating system for most of the emerging smartwatches!
The Zenwatch is a physical step up from most of the Android Wear devices we’ve seen from LG and previously Samsung. It is also cheaper at $260!
Sony joined the fray releasing it’s Xperia Z3. The device is actually the 3rd in the line and was rushed in it’s development cycle as Sony played catchup with other manufacturers. However rushed the device is sleek and beautiful! The Z3 doubles as a playstation controller or second screen for the playstation through a remote play app. It is thinner then the iPhone 5S at .29 inches with a 5.2 inch display. The Z3 even comes in a compact variety which is a bit thicker at .34 inches with a 4.4 inch screen. Both are literally designed to take on the next generation of iPhones which are rumored to measure 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches.
Sony also released two smartwatches. The smartwatch 3 is the third iteration in their smartwatch line and runs Android Wear. The Smartband Talk is an e ink sports bracelet that also receives calls and emails. Both are actually rather stylish.
Despite some notable product launches, the entire world of tech is effectively in a “wait on Apple” posture as they await the release of the long rumored mythological iWatch and iPhone 6.