Sony to Launch 'SmartWatch' That Synchs With, Controls Android Phones

Sony plans later this year to launch a small device it is calling the SmartWatch, which links to Android phones via Bluetooth and runs a suite of custom mini-apps.

The new device, which is approximately the shape and size of an iPod nano, including the clip on the rear, is an apparent successor to the Sony Ericsson LiveView, which was first announced in 2010. It will debut worldwide some time near the end of March, for US$149.

Representatives at Sony's booth at the Consumer Electronics Show are wearing the device, which is synched with demo models of the company's two new Xperia smartphones that were announced yesterday. However, they said it will also work with other Android devices, through an app called LiveWare, which also manages apps that work with the platform.

Demonstrations showed the SmartWatch receiving data feeds from handsets, including Facebook and Twitter updates, as well as remotely controlling mobile audio player software. The watch will also run apps that perform functions such as operating a handset's camera software, including displaying the image to be snapped. A spokeswoman said it would run for two to four days on a single charge.

The device will have 15 pre-installed apps at launch but will store up to 255. Like Apple's nano, it displays four at a time in a grid pattern.

The device has a black bezel around the screen, with a silver edge and a white back and clip, which hides the charging port. It comes with a black wristband, but other colors will be sold separately.

It is clearly labeled "Sony" on the front, with no reference to the Sony Ericsson joint venture that launched the original device. Sony said last year it would acquire all shares in the venture and turn it into a subsidiary.

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