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Sony goes for the wrist again with higher-res, NFC-enabled SmartWatch 2


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In a move that could eventually mean competition with Apple in the still-nascent wearable computing market, Sony on Tuesday officially revealed the next generation of its SmartWatch line.

Hinted at last week in a number of tweets, the SmartWatch Sony unveiled on Tuesday bears some improvements over its predecessor, which was released last year. The new device adds near-field communication connectivity, allowing users to pair the device with an NFC-capable Android phone just by tapping it to the phone.

Design-wise, the new SmartWatch has higher quality materials than did the first version. The SmartWatch 2 has a stainless steel wristband, while the main body of the device has an aluminum build. The SmartWatch 2 also has a higher resolution on its display, which is also better tailored for outdoor visibility. The 1.6-inch screen outputs at 220x176 and bears a much smaller bezel than its predecessor.

Sony has also boosted the device's battery life, increased the number of pre-installed apps, and improved the user interface for the device. The UI for the SmartWatch 2 is tailored to mimic the UI of Android, with capacitive keys on its face to help navigate home, back, and into menus.

As this is the second generation of the SmartWatch, Sony has a head start on its presumptive competition in the smart watch segment. The SmartWatch 2, though, does not appear to have much in the way of functionality beyond connecting to a user's smartphone.

Apple's rumored smart watch, by comparison, may integrate biometric sensors to measure users life signs. Such technology, observers argue, would help Apple's device to have more usefulness in healthcare, fitness, and other fields.

Sony has given no indication on how much the device will cost when it ships to stores in September. When it does launch, it will come up against competition from the likes of Pebble's smart watch, which has a lower resolution display but works across both iOS and Android, unlike the Android-specific SmartWatch 2.

Sony may also find itself with bigger competition than just the upstart Pebble, as Microsoft and Google as well as Apple have been said to be working on their own smart watch devices. The tech giants are said to be positioning themselves to grab a slice of a wearable computing market estimated by some to be worth billions over the next few years.

Apple in particular has been the subject of much interest and speculation with regard to wearable tech. CEO Tim Cook has already admitted that the company is looking beyond its iPhone and iPad for new potential moneymakers, and multiple rumors earlier this year had Apple working on a smart watch concept.