The Digital Crown on the Apple Watch is quintessentially Apple. Engineered with the traditional watch vocabulary in mind, the Digital Crown makes it easy to magnify content on such a small-screen device while enabling precise control and quick adjustments.
Crucially, the Digital Crown lets you interact with the Apple Watch software and apps without your fingers obscuring on-screen content. If you thought that Samsung, Apple’s arch rival, would respond by ripping off the Digital Crown wholesale, think again.
The South Korean company has seemingly engineered an innovative input method of its own in preparation for “the next generation Gear device.” As first reported by SamMobile, Samsung’s solution corresponds nicely with the need to navigate content without obstructing the view.
Enter a rotating, round bezel — a new way to not touch the smartwatch screen.
The new input method is outlined in the official documentation accompanying Samsung’s new smartwatch software development kit (SDK) which it released yesterday in preparation for “the next generation Gear device,” which would be round like the Moto 360 and the LG G Watch R.
As you could imagine, the round screen would make possible a rotating bezel that could be turned clockwise and counterclockwise in order to navigate lists, change settings and access other software features of the device.
The rotating bezel may allow for the same level of precision and nimble adjustments like the Digital Crown on the Apple Watch.
As you can see for yourself, Samsung provides several use cases for the rotating bezel, such as selecting a contact (above) and selecting different items arranged in a circle (below).
Needless to say, the rotating bezel would lend itself perfectly to magnifying content, zooming in on photos and generally enlarging content on the small screen, as illustrated below.
Basically a metal ring running around the face of the watch, the rotating bezel is expected to be used throughout the software powering the upcoming device. Shown bellow: entering characters using the rotating frame.
Other examples given include using the bezel to interact with notifications, controlling the volume and changing the value of just about any software slider.
It’s actually quite cool when you come to think of it.
We’ll have to try out the new smartwatch with its new input method in person to make the definite judgment about its practicality and usefulness in real-life.
Unlike some reviewers who dismissed the Digital Crown as a gimmick, I find myself using the feature on a daily basis for anything from scrolling to changing field values to magnifying my photos and Home screen icons.
From the Apple Watch Technology webpage:
Every new product we’ve introduced has been defined by a unique input device. With Apple Watch, it’s the Digital Crown. On mechanical watches, the crown has historically been used to set the time and date and to wind the mainspring. We reimagined it as a versatile tool that answers the fundamental challenge of how to magnify content on a small display.
Pinching to zoom, as you do on iPhone, is impractical. But turning the Digital Crown allows you to navigate nimbly and precisely, without obstructing your view. You can zoom in and out of photos, quickly scroll through lists, input data, or press it like a button to return to the Home screen. The Digital Crown is an integral part of the Apple Watch experience.
The next Samsung Gear smartwatch, internally codenamed Project Orbis, is expected to be formally announced alongside the Galaxy Note 5 during IFA 2015, which runs September 4-9 in Berlin, Germany.
The new Tizen-powered smartwatch (yeah, they’re not using Android Wear) should be marketed under the Gear A moniker. It should use a Super AMOLED display technology, run Samsung’s own Exynos processor and include Wi-Fi connectivity.
Speaking of the screen, the device is expected to have a 1.65-inch 360-by-360 pixel resolution round screen with a Retina-class pixel density of 305 pixels per inch.
It’s also thought to sport the GPS, a built-in 3G cellular connection for data and phone calls and include an array of on-board sensors: heartbeat, accelerometer, gyroscope, UV, pressure, magnetic compass and ambient light sensor.
What’s your take on Samsung’s rotating bezel?
Will it become a thing? Would you prefer it over Apple’s Digital Crown and if so, why?