The Black Eyed Peas’ Will.i.am is best known as a singer, rapper, and producer, but he’s got another interest: tech. And he’s not only a fan of gadgets, but also a maker, as evidenced by his i.am+ brand.
His company’s first smartwatch, the Puls (seen below), was widely derided for being uncomfortable and difficult to use. A second model was announced via a partnership with Gucci last spring, but honestly, we can’t find any record of the standalone device being released. But now Will.i.am is back with another attempt.
The i.am+ Dial is the new smartwatch, and it seems to fulfill the promise of the Gucci model: it’s a standalone wearable device that doesn’t need to be paired to a smartphone to function. It has its own SIM card and 4G connection, letting you make calls via the speaker or a Bluetooth headset, plus you can send and receive texts and use data.
It’s powered by AneedA, a voice-activated, Android-based operating system that doesn’t look anything like Android Wear. According to The Telegraph, the device has a 1.63in touch display and a front-facing camera, as well, and it’ll have apps from Yelp and Wolfram Alpha to put local businesses and other info on your wrist.
Will.i.am says the Puls wasn’t intended to be a full-fledged consumer device, since it was only sold to handpicked applicants, although the US$399 (about £275) price tag certainly implied that it wasn’t just a testing device. Still, he claims that i.am+ has taken lessons from the earlier device. “We learnt a lot: how to make things at a rapid pace, and get feedback,” he tells The Telegraph.
The Dial will be exclusive to Three in the UK and go on sale in early April, and it will apparently only be sold with a two-year contract. You’ll pay around £20-25 upfront and then be on the hook for about £20 a month for a couple years after. Presumably, that figure includes both the device and service costs