Compatability with the Apple 4S iOS 5.1.1 is the most important new element in Casio’s run at the worldwide “smart watch” market. (Their first product, announced almost a year ago, the GB6900, was limited to MEDIAS phones, and therefore irrelevant to all but the Japanese market.) Now, hitching their wagon to the immensly successful iPhone, with it’s upscale, techno-savvy owner-base, is a strong play. and the timing, considering that the Apple iPhone 5 is about to be unleashed, is brilliant.
So, what we have here is a device that allows some very basic linking with your phone. But this is far from being a “smart-watch.” It does not extend the communications features – you can’t talk into your watch or dial a call out from it. What the watch can do:
* inform you of an incoming call or text message (SMS)
* auto-synchronize the time on the watch to the phone – re-adjust for time zones
* “find my phone” alarm, and lost BlueTooth signal alert
Otherwise, it’s a plastic wrist watch, albeit, a well appointed G-Shock watch with world time, countdown timer, five alarms, 12/24 hour clock switchable, and full auto-calendar. Not found in other G-Shocks, but included standard to the GBs are the way-cool new touch-tap and the vibration alarm features. Bold colorways increase fashion appeal as well as expand the prospective customer base to women who wear large watches. And don’t forget about the G-Shock promise of near indestructibility.
I’ve gone back and read the comments (on other blogs) and found an enormous cynical anti-G-Shock mind-set, criticizing Casio for offering a plastic iToy that is too-little-too-late and pointing out that the Sony Smartwatch and the new Pebble “blow it away” both on price and features. My take on it is different – I can imagine plenty of circumstances in which the Casio GB watches would be invaluable. Replacement glass screens (caused buy dropped phones, fumbled in the rush to answer) has become a major growth industry – some of those screens can cost as much as $300. So, for those of you who screen your calls, particularly, knowing whose call or text is in-coming by glancing at your watch (rather than grope in your pocket, backpack, purse, or briefcase) is a convenience that should not be overlooked. Take that a step further – you are operating a car (and don’t have a Bluetooth headset already on your head and turned on) or a machine from which you can’t remove your hands, or you are out in the rain where you definitely can’t expose your non-water-resistant phone. All sports activities preclude being able to hand hold an iPhone. Also, it is in better taste and far less distracting in a meeting or in class to briefly glance at your wrist than fumble around for your buzzing, rattling phone.
Jeff, over at theVerge, reviews the first edition of the BLE G-Shock on video and shows up-close some of the action on the watch’s screen. It’s quite helpful – take a look..
The question of the price being a little steep, especially compared to the Sony and Pebble, is a valid issue. I expect that the USA version of these watches will be cheaper – Casio is smart that way.
And the importance of having Android and Windows Phone 8 compatible models is, I’m sure, a heated topic for the Casio think-tank staff. At present it’s not that Casio is behind, but that their BLE platform puts them too far ahead – hopefully the next generation of domestic smartphones will include a more complete Bluetooth technology. If not, Casio will have to re-think their smart-phone strategy.
UPDATE – September 27, 2012 – Going one step closer to the fire, Casio has indicated they will be shipping the five GB6900s in October. The Apple iPhone 5 has started shipping, so we’ll soon see how the world embraces this combination watch-phone duo.
Here’s a simplistic corporate video that at a minimum gives an idea what sound effects we can expect from this line:
And here is another corporate clip to show the features
UPDATE: November 2012 – The four GB6900aa smart-watches have been added to the USA catalog (but as of this date are not yet available) with a MSRP of $180. Compatability is stated for the Apple iPhone 4S or 5 (5.1.1 or newer) and not the Android phones. Specifically, models GB6900AA-7 (white) GB6900AA-1 (black) GB6900AA-2 (blue) and GB6900AA-5 (brown) will be available soon
Special thanks to watch-tanaka.com for publishing the two video clips below that help us get an idea what this watch looks like and how easy it is to set up.
bluetooth ble, iphone, g-shock casio, GB-5600AA, GB-6900AA, gb6900, sony pebble, smartphone, the verge, Apple4S iOS 5.1.1 apple 5,