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Nuance's Omate TrueSmart: The smartwatch that gets it right

Mark Hachman | Jan. 9, 2014
Industry-leading voice commands. Swype. Android. All on a smartwatch that doesn't need a phone to function

Nuance also built in Dragon Dashboard into the watch, providing an at-a-glance look at appointments on one's calendar, sports scores, stock prices, recommended restaurants (which factors in the user's location), weather, and more--simply by swiping. Like Google, Dragon learns your preferred searches over time and highlights that information, Brown said.

Nuance also integrates with Gracenote for music identification, and with Philips' Hue API for controlling intelligent lighting, including the color. You can even buy music directly from the phone through the tiny yet "surprisingly functional" Web browser, Brown said. The smartwatch can perform turn-by-turn navigation, but only if maps are installed. "We have that functioning here," he said.

And if you don't want to dictate texts and emails with your voice, there's Swype, the swipe-to-text entry system that's been a staple of most smartphones and was purchased by Nuance last year.

For now, Nuance showed off Swype only on the Samsung Galaxy Gear--which, without the Nuance Dragon assistant, looked exceedingly basic by comparison. Nuance essentially hacked the Gear's notepad function to add Swype, which appeared to work quite well, using either English, Korean, or Chinese characters. 

The bad news is that the TrueSmart is the only smartwatch platform that Nuance runs on as of yet. But the company said Tuesday that it will use the Omate partnership to develop the market further with other vendors.

What does all this mean? Well, for one thing, it's a challenge to Google: If it develops Google Glass to the exclusion of all else, the company may unwittingly cede the smartwatch market to its competitors.

We can't say for certain what other gotchas lie beneath the aura of efficiency the TrueSmart exudes. Omate's smartwatch is fairly clunky, a necessary evil to allow it to do the things it does. No, you can't play Angry Birds. Those are problems that can be solved over time. For now, though, it appears we finally have a smartwatch that does what a smartwatch should: stand alone and independent, and simply do what we ask of it.


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