Exactly nine months ago, Omate launched its Rise smartwatch with 3G radio, circular display, carbon-fiber bezel and full Android 5.1 (not Android Wear) for a mere $199 (it'll be $349 when it hits retail next year). If you missed out on it, here's your chance again. The company is now back on Indiegogo with a new limited edition run of another 999 units for the same base price point, and this time, it'll be bundled with Amazon's voice assistant, Alexa. While the CoWatch was the absolute first smartwatch to integrate Alexa, the Rise is still the first 3G standalone smartwatch to achieve this. Omate CEO Laurent Le Pen also pointed out that unlike the CoWatch, this product will actually be certified by Amazon by the time it ships in December.
There are no changes in terms of hardware. You'll still be getting a 1.3-inch, 360 x 360 round LCD; a MediaTek MT2601 chipset (dual 1.2GHz Cortex-A7 CPU, Mali-400 GPU); 512MB of RAM; 4GB of storage; a 580mAh battery; and a Nano SIM slot. The first 499 units will also come with a free Ting SIM card for the US. The 3.5G HSDPA radio will support either 1,900MHz for the US or 2,100MHz for elsewhere, and the same ol' Bluetooth 4.1 plus 802.11b/g/n WiFi are here to stay. As before, the 22mm strap can be easily detached from the splash-resistant (1ATM) polycarbonate body, should you wish to try other straps to suit your mood.
On the software side, even though the Rise works as a stand-alone Android device, it can also be set up to receive push notifications from phones running on either iOS 9 or Android 4.4 and above. Note that the Rise doesn't come with Google Play services, but it isn't hard to get that fixed. Of course, the biggest selling point here is Alexa, which now has over 2,000 skills from a variety of services such as Lyft, SmartThings, Capital One and Amazon (duh). On top of the usual commands for the likes of media playback, shopping lists, schedules, exchange rates, calculations and weather forecasts, one Rise beta tester also linked his smartwatch to his Logitech Harmony hub via IFTTT, thus allowing him to use his voice to turn his entire TV set -- including his Hi-Fi, PlayStation and Philips Hue lights -- on and off, as shown in the above video.
It's obviously exciting times for both Omate and Amazon, and as time passes, Alexa will become smarter and more practical. "With Alexa, we are just showing a glimpse of the future," Le Pen said. But for now, if all goes well, the Rise Limited Edition will start shipping to backers in December.