The Consumer Electronics Show showed off many different Android devices, including a handful of new phones and new tablets. However, while those devices headlined Android’s appearance at the show, hardware manufactures also introduced new uses of the operating system on devices including watches and webcams.
Let’s take a look at those devices…
Apple really started off the mainstream “smart watch” category with the iPod nano, a small touchscreen device which some customers attached to wrist straps to form electronic timepieces. Since then, there’s been a few surprisingly similar releases from other companies, including Motorola’s MotoActv, a fitness-focused watch (which could be rooted and turned into a cute little Honeycomb tablet!).
The i’m Watch runs Android 1.66 on a 1.55-inch display and is available in a plethora of different versions and colours for different prices – ranging from €249 to, er, €11,999 (!). The watch comes preloaded with a few basic Android apps including a music player, social networking apps (namely Twitter and Facebook), weather and stocks, calendar, an address book and even a phone.
The watch is powered over Bluetooth, tethered to your Android or iOS device, which allows you to pick up calls like a speakerphone on your wrist. We’re going to have to wait and see whether this category really takes off.
Samsung inTouch Camera
Samsung showed off the inTouch webcam, a device that apparently helps you to turn your existing, “dumb” TV into a smarter one. The most basic function of the device is for video conferencing, which the camera does in 720p HD quality. However, it’s powered by a heavily skinned version of Gingerbread, meaning it comes shipped with a few apps including YouTube and a web browser.
The device is controlled by a remote control with a QWERTY keyboard, and I’ll leave you to your own opinions on whether this is a preferential input system. The device will ship in March for $199.99, a price that’s a lot lower than buying a brand new TV. However, with games consoles and other devices offering these features and more, it might not be such a bargain for everyone.
Another smartwatch shown off at CES this year was from Sony. Like the i’m Watch, the SmartWatch connects to your phone (it seems this is Android-only though) over Bluetooth to pick up a bunch of functionality, including access to social networking apps and your email.
The SmartWatch will be compatbile with all phones running Android 2.1 or higher and should be available before the end of the first quarter for $149.
Sony Walkman Z
The Sony Walkman Z Series has been available in Japan for some time, after it was first shown off at IFA. At CES, Sony showed off the Walkman Z Series running Gingerbread for the US market. The device is not a phone, it’s a personal media player much like the iPod touch or the Samsung Galaxy Player. The iPod Touch has really led this category for some time and only now is Android starting to move into this market.
The Sony Walkman Z Series sports a 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor, a 4.3″ WVGA LCD display and an HDMI out port. The 8GB model will cost around $250 and should go on sale in the US at the start of March.
Polaroid Smart Camera
At CES, Polaroid introduced a “smart” camera powered by Android that looks very much like a phone, even though it’s not being marketed as one. Of course, its main purpose is photography, and the camera comes equipped with a 16-megapixel sensor with 3x optical zoom. The device also sports a 3.2″ touch display with Wi-Fi connectivity, so sharing images is a very simple, straightforward experience.
The “smart” name does not just come with the Android specification, however. Thanks to Android, photos can be edited onboard with regular Android apps downloaded through the Market.
This is an impressive sounding device, but with smartphones getting better cameras with every generation, the need for this device is a bit precarious in my opinion.
Although not concerning any specific device, one of the big trends of CES was all about the ecosystem. We’ve used this term a lot to describe the connection of your computer, phone and tablet to share and sync the same content. However, with the power of Android, this is being taken further – to devices like your washing machine and fridge.
Samsung showed off a smart washing machine: a device which would connect with your Android phone (Samsung or non-Samsung) to control the machine as well as to notify you when a load is done. I’m doubtful that the actual washing machine is powered by Android, but the way you use it easily could be. LG showed off a fridge which will send a grocery list right to your smartphone.
The Android ecosystem will likely be a big trend throughout the next year, as more manufacturers tie up their devices together. (Reminds me of last year’s Android @ Home announcements – Ed.)
From watches to washing machines, CES has shown that Android is going to be powering a lot more than just phones and tablets, and it’s only two weeks into 2012.