The iType smartwatch from TypeTime brings practical ability to type in feature packed wearable running full Android
As it is right now, all wearables are yielding functionality in the ability to type, making due instead with voice commands or pre-defined responses to certain notifications or messages. The iType smartwatch from TypeTime bridges that gap rather well.
Another thing the iType does rather well is enable the full functionality of a smartphone on your wrist since it runs full Android 4.4 KitKat. Yes, that makes the iType a smartphone on your wrist, and that form factor may not sound appealing initially, but when you see how well the typing feature works, there are all sorts of discrete, and productivity angles that make the iType a pretty smart development.
There are two navigation buttons along the right side of the watch frame, a back button and a sleep/wake button. The middle module is where the camera rests. On the left side is where the SIM card slides in.
iType is water resistant so you can wear it in the shower, and the battery life should last as long as most smartphones, so expect to charge it nightly.
When you think about the small, 240x240 resolution display on the iType, it is difficult to imagine the ability to type efficiently on it. Typing notwithstanding, the display is a 1.54-inch IPS panel.
Observing the device in casual use, the display was sufficient enough to see the necessary details on its keyboard, browsing through the applications, or simply looking at the watch face to get the time.
Processor and memory
The iType is powered by MediaTek dual-core A7 CPU tuned to 1.3GHz. There is 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of storage. It probably comes as no surprise to anyone that expandable storage is not a feature on the watch. For the small display however, the processor showed no signs of struggle working through the user interface.
Interface, functionality, and typing
Running Android 4.4 KitKat, the iType interface is optimized for the small form factor, but with access to Google Play, you can get all your favorite apps on your wrist, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, and more.
The typing interface is six large on-screen buttons that emulate a QWERTY keyboard. There are three smaller on-screen buttons to handle special characters and actions. With this set-up, the iType will accept tap or swipe inputs to compose messages.
The keyboard can be miniaturized into a floating widget on the main screens to be brought up anytime you want. To make the most of the limited screen space, you can also make the keyboard transparent and type on the screen with the same functionality.
Text prediction looks remarkably well tuned on the pre-production devices we looked at. In fact, the typing worked perfectly. For such a small form factor, touch typing and swipe inputs were very efficient.
There is a camera on the iType, it is a 5-megapixel sensor. Based on companion specifications with TypeTime's manufacturing partner, the camera can also capture 720p video. Given the platform, we expect the camera to be adequate without necessarily setting a new standard, it is housed on the wrist after all.
Pricing and availability
The TypeTime iType smartwatch is available for pre-order through Kickstarter now. The introductory price starts at just $184 for one smartwatch, or $369 for two. The iType is SIM-unlocked. The first shipments will be in July with delivery worldwide.
Following the pre-order period on Kickstarter, the iType smartwatch will have a retail for $235, a respectable price for any smartwatch, let alone an unlocked smartphone that fits on your wrist and seamlessly handle non-verbal inputs.
TypeTime is headquartered in New York. The big initiative is to bring the typing technology to the forefront, and to do that they have a manufacturing partner using an existing smartwatch platform which explain, in part, the low cost of admission. Other than that, the iType covers the bases, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, G-Sensor, and more.
Perhaps the only caveat is that LTE connectivity is not part of the package with iType. This is not a huge problem though, HSPA is capable of streaming music with little drama, and the iType is not necessarily a streaming video device (though you certainly can do that).
With the iType smartwatch, you never have to reach for your phone in your pocket or backpack because it can be your smartphone. Stand-alone GPS offers you the navigation right where you want it while driving. Having the ability to fully respond to notifications without having to talk out loud to your wrist is also big plus the iType brings to the table.
The main “problem” the iType addresses is the ability to effectively type and fully interact with your digital correspondence without the need to rely on a smartphone to do the heavy lifting. Given features, price, and form factor, the iType smartwatch looks like it has found the right mix to be successful.
You can pre-order your iType smartwatch here.