Samsung Debuts Upgraded Smartwatch and Smart Speaker to Combat Apple
Samsung introduced an upgraded smartwatch and a new smart speaker on Thursday, as the South Korean electronics giant strives to match and pull ahead of rival Apple.
The new speaker, called the Galaxy Home, is shaped like a small cooking pot and stands on three silver legs. It includes Samsung’s Bixby voice-controlled digital assistant and close integration with the Spotify music service. But Samsung didn’t say when the speaker would go on sale or how much it would cost. And the product enters a crowded market led by Amazon (AMZN) Alexa-enabled speakers, Google’s (GOOGL) Google Home products, and Apple’s (AAPL) HomePod.
On the watch front, Samsung decided to match the name of its product to its top selling smartphone line. No longer the Samsung Gear Watch, the device is now called the Samsung Galaxy Watch. It comes in two sizes, 46mm for $350 and 42mm for $330, and hits stores on August 24. The larger size will come only in a silver color, while the smaller size, likely more suitable for female customers, will be offered in black and rose gold.
A higher-priced version coming later will include LTE cellular connectivity, matching the capabilities Apple’s third-gen watch from last year. The watch has heart rate monitoring and a breathing guidance app like Apple’s watch.
Samsung’s watch will have “several days” of battery life and can be used for sleep tracking. Although some rumors earlier this year predicted that Samsung would switch its watch line to Google’s Wear OS software, the new watches remain on the company’s proprietary Tizen platform. The watch also faces a crowded market, with recently improved devices from Fitbit (FIT) and Garmin (GRMN).
Of course, Apple is expected to unveil an upgraded, fourth generation of its watch next month. Rumors indicate the upcoming Apple Watch may have a larger screen, thinner design, and possibly even a version with a round face.
Samsung also used Thursday’s “Unpacked” event in Brooklyn, New York, to unveil its Galaxy Note 9 smartphone. The new phone also arrives on August 24 and starts at $1,000.