The Qualcomm Toq

May 29th, 2014 15 Comments

Editor’s Note: Here’s a post from newish ‘Lab member, Tony. Enjoy, and maybe if you’re nice in comments, he’ll write more. Or not, we won’t know until we know.

The ideas flying, crawling, walking, and slithering around us in the sunny windy San Francisco Bay setting made for an enjoyable, educational, and truly inspirational experience. O’Reilly Solid conference: Software/Hardware/Everywhere was last week and with it, the future finally materialized. Wearables, robots, new materials, new methods, and new software have arrived to change . . . everything.

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This spirit was interrupted–no, augmented–for a few hours at the beginning of Solid by some hushed mumbles: O’Reilly was giving away 30 smartwatches at lunchtime!

I will spare the details of finding and analyzing the official rules, staking out and running reconnaissance around the giveaway area, listening in, photographing, and hunkering down. I created my first personal twitter account and opened 10 identical tabs on my smartphone, ready to spawn the required golden tweet. I proudly whispered this strategy to a colleague who responded: “OK, you’ve gone too far now.” I agreed and then quietly, though not completely unabashedly, created two more tabs.

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The Toq Smartwatch by Qualcomm features Qualcomm’s Mirasol display technology which delivers a sizable, always on, color touch screen without consuming much power. The screen is readable even in direct sunlight. In darkness, double tap the secret spot on the upper band to toggle the happy backlight. The screen snappily responds to touch and the battery lasted a full week in my test. Given that the display stays on for so long between charges, I find it difficult to overly criticize the often washed out, blurred colors.

The watch face is so much bigger than the band that the screen overlaps my hand a bit. The watch often digs in when the wrist is bent, say when using an armrest to get up from a chair. Tightening the band to prevent the discomfort is not an option. The Toq band is cut to fit, and careful with those scissors: a battery and sensors in the band mean you cannot replace it. The design of the band does not permit an analog fit as there are a finite number of slots. If you are one of the lucky ones with a blessed wrist size then you should be able to use Toq without frequent pain. Got pain? Regularly shove the watch up to where your arm is thicker, or sell it to someone with a wrist of equal or lesser circumference to your own.

The software, both on the Toq itself and on the required Android-only device, is adequate. Devices stayed paired and notifications were timely. Range was around 30 feet. What more do you want in a smartwatch? How about using your voice to dictate a text!? Pretty cool, Toq! An SDK is also available for you to make your own Android apps which communicate with Toq. I tried downloading it and they wanted me to create an account so I didn’t. I was also discouraged by the quiet, small dev forum.

I seldom wear a watch, but I am never without my smartphone. So will I use a smartwatch regularly? I really like being able to casually look down and immediately read a new email/chat/text. Quick access to stocks, weather, calendar, and basic music controls come in handy sometimes. Overall though, Toq leaves me wanting more: a true smartphone experience, always on, on my wrist. But then maybe Toq has done its job. I think I have seen the light, the conversion has been made, and I am enthusiastically on board for next time.

Bottom line: Qualcomm Toq is OK for a free gift but I want more.


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15 Responses to “The Qualcomm Toq”

  1. T.O. Says:

    Wanna buy a watch?

  2. Jonathan Vinoskey Says:

    Interesting Tony! Keep the posts coming!

  3. Ultan Ó Broin (Apps-UX) Says:

    They’ll want the G watch end of July (http://www.trustedreviews.com/news/lg-g-watch-release-date-price-specs-and-features). Bet October will see the iWatch from Apple (WWDC v v unlikely). Watch this space…

    Aesthetically I think a lot of these devices don’t cut it. The original Pebble is about the the best of them, at least it’s simple, and the Shine with wristband (and that’s not really a Smartwatch!) beats the lot.

    I still don’t get it why wearables makers don’t get the aesthetics aspect. Google Glass was must be the MBA class paper de rigeur on that point by now. Ye, the prototype G watch pics I’ve seen aren’t gonna result in a Kate Moss Glastonbury 2005 Fashion flashpoint moment either (ugh). What is bizarre is the round-faced models Google used in the Android Wear SDK promos (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xQ3y902DEQ) were actually something I’d buy! It’s wide open for Apple again…

  4. Jake Says:

    @Ultan: Google has all but promised watch news and announcements for IO. The round watch in the video is said to be the one that Motorola in producing.

    I like Samsung’s latest iteration of the Gear, specifically the small one, at least aesthetically. Functionally, I’m not sure how well a horizontal time display works on one’s wrist.

  5. Ultan Ó Broin (Apps-UX) Says:

    Style becoming an issue for wearable tech. Or rather for wearable tech journalists. http://seattletimes.com/html/businesstechnology/2023729989_techfashionxml.html

    Interesting question, also posed by David Haimes (http://davidhaimes.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/does-my-gopro-qualify-as-a-wearable-device/#comments) wrt GoPro, as to what qualifies as wearable technology… I guess Beats is too… sorta…

  6. Jake Says:

    @Ultan: Funny, style counts bc Apple isn’t leading the way :) And yeah, GoPro and Beats both wearables.

  7. Ultan Ó Broin (Apps-UX) Says:

    Ah, yes, It’s the Moto 360. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2642662/Is-Apple-copying-Motorola-Analyst-claims-iWatch-round-face-look-identical-Moto-360.html

  8. Jake Says:

    @Ultan: Speculation abounds.

  9. David Haimes Says:

    I haven’t worn a watch for 15 years, which might explain why I am always late.

    I haven’t really seen a feature on a smartwatch that makes me want one yet, I’m pretty happy reaching into my pocket for my phone I guess.

    Regarding the GoPro as a wearable, it’s the must have fashion accessory for extreme sports wannabees. No Kate Moss, but plenty of surfers, snowboarders, etc ,etc.

  10. Jake Says:

    @David: I haven’t worn a watch for about 20 years, but somehow the Misfit hasn’t bothered me very much. Maybe bc it’s not a watch; yes, it tells time, but I haven’t learned the dots yet.

    I’m on the glanceable bandwagon though. Digging out a phone isn’t always acceptable.

    I like your use of the GoPro as a vehicular wearable :)

  11. @mishavaughan Says:

    No picture of Tony? I totally wanted to see him staking out the giveaway booth. Something involving a potted plant. Ah well, next time.

  12. Kathy Says:

    Agree with Misha! And juggling 12 tabs and sending Tweets! Seems like all of the poetry was in Tony’s prose, here.

  13. T.O. Says:

    @misha: the pictures of me would be boring. Just potted plants, lobby chairs, ottomans…and a pair of eyes.

    @Kathy: I ended up sending only 2 tweets. I realized I had won because everyone else was still scratching their heads learning the rules.

    I ended up giving the watch to fellow AppsLab-er Osvaldo.

  14. Ultan Ó Broin (Apps-UX) Says:

    Some thoughts on said matter are here: http://usableapps.tumblr.com/post/88882954195/wearable-tech-expectations-and-user-experience-starts

  15. Jake Says:

    @Ultan: Did you notice the instructions on the back of the Shine package include a Klingon translation?

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