Not quite the next Pebble, but a good start (Updated)

This hybrid smartwatch is off to a rough start

Fossil introduced its new line of hybrid smartwatches earlier this month, after weeks of rumors. Whereas the corporate has made hybrid wearables earlier than, the e-paper display makes this iteration a lot nearer to what you would possibly get from a full-blown smartwatch.

The Hybrid HR represents an enormous leap for Fossil, because it tries to develop its personal software program stack for wearables with out the backing of Put on OS and Google. As is often the case with first-generation merchandise, this watch is a bit tough across the edges.

Design, {hardware}, what’s within the field

The Hybrid HR is available in two distinct fashions: the gold HR Constitution, and the black HR Collider. There are a number of body and band kinds for every, and you may at all times use customized 22mm straps. I used to be despatched the HR Collider with the silicone band, although if I had been shopping for this for myself, I in all probability would have chosen the brown leather-based model.

In contrast to most smartwatches, which show the time and different info on a digital display, the Hybrid HR locations bodily clock fingers above an e-ink display. The ideas of the fingers mix into the background of the e-ink display, and there’s no hand for seconds, however I do not actually have any complaints in any other case. If the fingers are obscuring the display, a flick of the wrist will spin them round for a second.

The e-ink a part of the watch face shows 4 widgets. The default set consists of the present temperature, day by day step depend, date, and last-recorded coronary heart fee. You may change these, however there are only some further choices — the possibility of rain, a second time zone, and the variety of minutes spent in bodily actions.

In the event you’re in a darkish room and you may’t fairly see the display (or the place the fingers are pointing), Fossil has built-in a backlight into the Hybrid HR. Tapping twice on the face will activate the lights for a couple of seconds, although the contact detection leaves so much to be desired — forceful faucets is perhaps required.

As with Fossil’s present smartwatches, there are three buttons on the facet, although the middle key would not have a dial for scrolling. By default, the highest button opens the ‘Wellness Dashboard,’ the center one shows notifications, and the underside button controls music. Holding down the center key brings you again to the watch face.

Within the field, you get the Fossil HR and the USB charging cable. No wall adapter is included, however you in all probability have no less than one spare USB wall charger.

Software program and battery

As beforehand talked about, the Fossil Hybrid HR makes use of the corporate’s personal software program stack, as an alternative of Google’s Put on OS. The ‘Fossil Smartwatches’ app is used for the preliminary setup course of, and for customizing the watch afterward. I am going to discuss in regards to the app first, and get to the watch later.

Companion app

The Fossil Smartwatches app has 4 pages, with the house display displaying an summary of your health exercise. This information may be synced to each Google Match and Below Armor File, so you possibly can have the Hybrid HR’s step and coronary heart fee info tracked similar to any Put on OS watch. Granted, Google Match is not precisely a shining instance of a wonderful health software, nevertheless it’s higher than Fossil’s personal app.

Subsequent is the Customization web page, the place you possibly can swap across the icons on the watch face. There are three presets, so you possibly can shortly swap between totally different configurations. For instance, your journey watch face might need a second clock, whereas your train face might need an opportunity of rain panel.

The third web page is for alerts, the place you possibly can allow/disable app notifications, set alarms, and filter calls/SMS to particular contacts. That sounds high quality and dandy, till you notice that Fossil solely permits alerts to be mirrored from 13 apps. In the event you get a notification from an unsupported app, nothing seems on the watch.

As of the time of writing, these are the supported apps:

  • Google Calendar
  • Gmail
  • Hangouts
  • KakaoTalk
  • iOS Mail
  • Fb Messenger
  • WhatsApp
  • Fb
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • WeChat
  • Weibo
  • Line
  • Google Match

I solely use two of the above functions (Google Calendar & Gmail), so you possibly can think about how irritating it was to really feel my cellphone buzz in my pocket and see nothing on the watch. Most of my notifications come from Slack, Skype, and a third-party Twitter consumer — none of that are appropriate with Fossil’s app.

Once I requested Fossil about this, the corporate advised me that an replace is coming to the app by the top of the 12 months, which is able to considerably develop the checklist of supported apps. Listed below are the upcoming additions:

  • Airbnb
  • American Airways
  • Badoo
  • Financial institution of America
  • Calendar
  • Capital One
  • Citibank
  • Delta
  • ESPN
  • Facetime
  • Flickr
  • Foursquare
  • Google Inbox
  • Google+
  • Grubhub
  • Hipchat
  • Kik
  • Line
  • LinkedIn
  • Lyft
  • Mint
  • Outlook
  • Pandora
  • Paypal
  • Pinterest
  • Postmates
  • Seamless
  • Shazam
  • Sina Weibo
  • Skype
  • Skype for Enterprise
  • Slack
  • Spotify
  • Sq. Money
  • Swarm
  • Telegram
  • Tinder
  • Tom Skype
  • Tumblr
  • Uber
  • United Airways
  • Venmo
  • Viadeo
  • Viber

The up to date checklist is definitely higher, nevertheless it would not remedy the basic problem with having a whitelist system: there’ll at all times be apps lacking. There are extra electronic mail functions than stars within the sky, however solely two are supported proper now (Gmail and iOS Mail), with another on the best way (Outlook). Google Inbox can be on the checklist, despite the fact that the app stopped functioning again in April. With the Fossil Hybrid HR, something is feasible even time journey.

Shifting on from that, the ultimate web page shows details about the watch and your Fossil account. You may examine for firmware updates, view the watch’s battery life, change your well being info, set health targets, and so forth.

Fossil Hybrid Smartwatches
Fossil Hybrid Smartwatches

The watch

Now we get to the watch itself. There is not any rotating dial or contact display, so all navigation and controls are carried out by urgent the facet buttons. The highest and backside buttons usually perform as up and down keys, respectively, with the middle key appearing as a affirmation/choice button. Like on Put on OS and Tizen, holding down the middle button will take you again to the watch face from anyplace.

First, urgent the highest button takes you to health info. In the event you click on the underside button on this display, the watch will report your coronary heart fee. Fairly easy.

A single click on of the center key takes you to your notifications. You may scroll by means of them with the highest and backside buttons, however solely the primary two traces or so may be seen. To see the whole message, you need to open it by urgent the middle button, then scroll by means of it with the highest and backside keys. A bit bit clunky, however workable. You may’t reply to messages in any respect.

I already complained in regards to the poor notification help, however there’s another factor flawed with alerts on the Fossil Hybrid HR: clearing them in your watch would not clear them on the cellphone, and vice-versa. On the finish of the day, my watch nonetheless has all the e-mail notifications I cleared from my cellphone hours prior.

Subsequent, urgent the underside button takes you to media controls. The principle display reveals the identify of no matter you are enjoying, and the middle button acts as a play/pause management. If you choose ‘Controls’ (which takes two key presses), you possibly can entry quantity and skip/rewind options. Loads of steps are concerned for one thing so simple as turning down music.

Lastly, holding down the center key for a couple of seconds opens one thing akin to fast settings. You may examine the present battery degree, flip notifications on/off, and ring your cellphone.

Battery life is one space the place the Fossil Hybrid HR is incredible. The corporate estimates that the watch ought to final “as much as 2 weeks” on a single cost, and that appears to be correct in my testing. I obtained the watch from Fossil when it was round 80% charged, and over every week later, I am at 22%. I have never even taken the ability cable out of the field.

Must you purchase it?

Perhaps. This can be a hybrid smartwatch, not a full-blown smartwatch, so you do not get options like NFC funds or third-party apps. Regardless of what the e-ink display would possibly trace at, this isn’t the second coming of Pebble — it is extra akin to what Withings has been promoting for years.

I may excuse the Hybrid HR’s minimal software program customization and slightly-clunky controls if it may show notifications correctly, however Fossil has dropped the ball by limiting alerts to a number of hand-picked apps. The upcoming app replace ought to make the state of affairs higher, however I am nonetheless unsure why there isn’t a choice to see all notifications, like there’s with each different wearable platform. Even the expanded checklist would not embrace Google Voice, Sign, Samsung E mail, Fb Messenger Lite, and numerous different apps. (see the replace beneath)

If the restricted performance would not hassle you, the Hybrid HR is a great-looking watch with sufficient ‘good’ performance to maintain most individuals glad. I hope Fossil can enhance the software program expertise over the approaching months, however within the meantime, a Put on OS watch goes again on my wrist.

Purchase it if:

  • You do not want all of the bells and whistles of an everyday smartwatch.
  • You need multi-week battery life.

Do not buy it if:

  • You need best-in-class well being monitoring.
  • You are on the lookout for NFC funds, customizable watch faces, and different smartwatch-only options.

The place to purchase

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