Rapper, singer and entrepreneur William Adams, best known as Will.i.am, is ready to unleash his next smartwatch on the world. It's called the Dial and is available to pre-order from Three in the UK, starting at £22 per month with a £49 upfront fee, or £25 per month with a one-off, £19 payment. That's right, you'll need to take out a new, separate contract to use this wraparound wearable. Unlike most smartwatches, however, it doesn't require a tethered phone. That's because it comes with a Three SIM card inside, allowing you to call, text and access the internet with nothing but what's on your wrist.
The Dial is being touted as a "voice-first" device with its own virtual assistant, called AneedA. Like Siri, Cortana and Alexa, the idea is that you can ask for information and execute tasks while your hands are full. How AneedA compares to those alternatives is, for now, a mystery. Three says it has the ability "to learn and tailor responses to each consumer" and "make traditional mobile search irrelevant." Big claims, which we're skeptical of given the performance of its previous wearable, the Puls. In early 2015, the press called it a "wearable nightmare" and "riddled with problems."
Its successor has one more trick to win you over: free music streaming. The service, powered by 7digital, has over 20 million tracks that you can listen to ad-free. There's no extra subscription and no promotional period to worry about. The data you spend streaming is written off too, so you'll never hit your monthly data cap while listening to Scream & Shout. Such a bonus, while welcome, probably won't be enough to make this smart cuff a hit. Few consumers in the UK are interested in taking out a second contract, even if it has the star power of someone like Will.i.am behind it.