Timex has introduced its IronMan One GPS+ smartwatch, which allows users to get direct wireless connectivity without having to use Bluetooth to connect with a smartphone. The new model will retail for $399 when it becomes available this fall, and it will work with AT&T's cellular network, according to Timex.
The smartwatch includes email-based messaging, plus the ability to track speed, distance and pace in real time while sharing performance metrics through social media and online fitness platforms, according to the company. The watches also have water resistance up to 50 meters, which allows them to be used in rain or while swimming.
In addition, the new smartwatch has a built-in MP3 player equipped with 4GB of memory to play music via a Bluetooth headset, as well as an always-on touch display that can be read in full sunlight, the company said. The purchase of the IronMan One GPS+ also includes one year of data connectivity by AT&T for U.S. and Canadian subscribers.
The smartwatches include safety features for users who run long distances and through remote areas, including tracking capabilities that allow users to communicate their location to friends or family members at any time, according to the company. Users can also activate a "Find Me Mode" on the device, which enables them to send an alert giving their exact location in case of an emergency.
The new smartwatches were developed in collaboration with Qualcomm Connected Experiences, a subsidiary of Qualcomm.
Avi Greengart, an analyst who covers mobile consumer devices for Current Analysis, told eWEEK that the new Timex IronMan GPS+ smartwatch isn't the first such device to rid itself of Bluetooth connections to a smartphone, but "it is unique because this is the first smartwatch that I know of that has text message capabilities built in."
Also, its ability to let others know your location when you are wearing it is innovative, said Greengart. "This allows others to track your run in real time. That can be very useful, especially if someone is expecting you" and you don't show up.
Plus, the water-resistant capabilities can make it a good choice for users who want to swim and can't carry a smartphone, he said. "It is a really interesting combination of features," he added. "It's about being an IronMan sports watch with some communications capabilities built in. It lets you stay semi-connected."
After a decade of murmurs about wearable technology, smartwatches have recently been nudging into the technology mainstream, according to a recent eWEEK report. But while some applause is due, and the category has already improved significantly from the earliest offerings, the devices are continuing to mature.
Smartwatches are available today from a wide range of vendors, including Samsung, LG, Martian, Android Wear and Sony.