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Sony's LiveView Is the Dick Tracy Watch Apple Should've Made


Sony has just outed its LiveView product, a 1.3-inch screen wristwatch remote that's designed to be a tiny companion to your Android 2.1 device. It's not a direct rival for the new iPod Nano, but is it the device Apple should've made?

Sony calls its new product "your window to the world" and that's a little extravagant, since it's actually just a window onto your Sony Xperia smartphone (and other Android 2.x phones too). The device is a tiny 11 by 35 by 35 mm, which places it at exactly the right size for your wrist, and it sports a 128 by 128 pixel OLED screen. It connects via Bluetooth and its hook into the smartphone is through a special app, which then lets you control the phone from the keys on the LiveView.

When the LiveView and phone are paired, it acts like a powerful "app" that's housed off your phone—it has music playback powers, lets you read messages, look at Facebook or Twitter updates, see calendar data and check the ID of who's ringing you. Plus you can use it to find your phone, as long as its within the usual 10 meter Bluetooth range.

We don't know how much the tiny beasty will cost, or exactly when it'll hit other than in the final quarter of this year, but we do know one thing: Apple's management may well be kicking themselves right now. Because the LiveView is nearly, but not quite, exactly what the new iPod Nano should've been. Okay, so the Nano is a touchscreen music player, and the LiveView is merely a remote access device for Android phones with no media powers of its very own ... but with the addition of a simple (and cheap) Bluetooth chip and the appropriate software, the Nano could do everything LiveView can. This is possibly a rare example of Apple missing the boat on something that could've sold a million. Maybe in generation 2?

To keep up with this news, follow me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter.