qualcomm toq voiceImage: Michael Homnick

Qualcomm Toq smartwatch now features voice messaging (and, yes, it works)

The Toq smartwatch isn’t so much a retail-ready smartwatch as Qualcomm’s vision of what a smartwatch can be.

Armed with a diverse portfolio of mobile technologies, Qualcomm began releasing a limited run of Toq watches last year—mostly to show off its energy-efficient, always-on Mirasol display technology. And now Qualcomm has advanced its “living proof of concept” model further by integrating voice dictation into the Toq’s text messaging feature. Powered by Nuance’s voice-to-text engine, Toq users can now respond to incoming text messages by tapping on a microphone icon, and uttering brief replies.

The Nuance engine adds correct punctuation marks when you voice “comma,” “period” or “exclamation point,” and you get a chance to confirm your message before you whisk it off to your conversation partner. In nutshell: It works—just as you would expect of any proper voice dictation feature. (Last year, Nuance’s CEO confirmed that his company’s technology powers Apple’s digital assistant, Siri.)

qualcomm toq 2 Image: Michael Homnick

You can also re-do your message before sending it off to a friend.

There’s really not much more to say about the new voice-to-text feature, which is available Monday via an update pushed by Nuance’s smartphone app. Still, when you begin tallying up Toq’s innovative features, you see a smartwatch that’s quietly pointing the wearables industry in the right direction. 

First, there’s the Mirasol display. Much like e-paper, it leverages ambient, reflected light, and doesn’t require an energy-hogging backlight to be visible. But unlike e-paper, Mirasol is a color display. The Toq also charges via a wireless charging station—an innovation that all smartwatches would benefit from. Because USB cables are wack, and proprietary charging cables are worse.

I also appreciate the fact that Toq comes with only a small handful of apps. You can check the weather, stock updates and your calendar; see notifications for calls and texts; control music on your smartphone; and track your daily steps care of a built-in accelerometer.

And now there’s simple voice dictation. It’s not an overwhelmingly generous menu of features, but when you’re navigating a 1.55-inch wrist-worn display, you really don’t want to fuss around with much. The only other big-name smartwatch company to currently include voice dictation is Samsung. Stay tuned for a look at how the Gear 2 pulls off this trick in an upcoming review.

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