IT & Systems Management

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.)

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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