When Apple decided to move away from the world of wearable computers with its latest iPod nano, I began to wonder if there were any viable alternatives that might even provide a more robust computing experience. The iPod nano was hardly a revolutionary computing device in itself, but it did offer several features that few wearable gadgets had to that point.
To my surprise, some of the biggest companies in the world of mobility today actually have remarkably advanced products in this area, some of which are running Android. So how do they compare? Which one is the best alternative to the now-obsolete iPod nano?
The Sony SmartWatch is a classy-looking device that connects to your Android smartphone via Bluetooth and works with a number of apps including Twitter, Facebook, and Pandora. The idea behind the SmartWatch is to give you control over your phone’s media playback and at-a-glance information concerning messages, calls, and social media updates.
The Sony SmartWatch is optimized to work on Xperia smartphones, though it should work just fine with Bluetooth-enabled Android phones running compatible apps.
Unlike the iPod nano, this watch does not have an audio jack and doesn’t store your music. It interacts with your Android device, so you’ll still need to have it handy to listen to music.
Folks who prefer the fitness aspects of the iPod nano will be pleased to see a number of fitness apps that work with it, though I don’t see any reference to a built-in pedometer.
You can pick up a SmartWatch of your very own for $149.
In what can only be described as a remarkable response from an excited community, the Pebble is one of the greatest examples of crowdfunding to date. Earning over 10 million dollars in funding during its time on Kickstarter, the Pebble combines an energy-efficient e-paper display with Bluetooth sync functionality that promises to work as well with an iPhone as it does an Android device.
The Pebble hasn’t been seen in the wild just yet, though with so much funding, there’s no reason not to expect that it would work as advertised.
A built-in accelerometer with gesture detection makes it an interesting platform for a number of applications such as gesture-based music control.
By connecting to your smartphone, the Pebble (like the Sony SmartWatch) can take advantage of its GPS to track your runs.
The Pebble Kickstarter project is over, though the device is expected to sell for $150.
The MOTOACTV from Motorola Mobility is perhaps my favorite option on this list. I gave a full breakdown of how the device compared with the iPod nano in a previous article, though I can’t stress enough how much this one little watch-sized device does.
GPS? It has it, along with a step counter and heart monitor to keep track of your fitness goals so you don’t have to. In fact, the GPS integrates with Google Maps so you can see the path you walked and share it with friends.
Integrated MP3 player? Check. This device not only has an integrated MP3 player, but it also sports an FM radio (like the iPod nano) and playlist features so you can make the playlists that work for you during specific areas of your workout.
The MOTOACTV even connects to your Android phone to keep you informed about text messages and social media updates so you don’t have to stop for every buzz and beep out of your phone.
The MOTOACTV takes a page out of the Fitbit’s playbook and syncs your workouts for you via Wi-Fi so you don’t have to remember. Trust me, it makes a huge difference when you check your progress and suddenly remember that you haven’t synced in a week.
This device even provides analysis of your workouts based on your heart rate and activity levels and gives you the weather forecast in your area.
You can find the MOTOACTV on Amazon starting at $133 for the 8 GB model and $200 for the 16 GB model.