The Qualcomm Toq has one of the nicest displays we've seen in any of the early smartwatches. Its wireless charging doesn't hurt things either. The watch's software, though, landed with a pretty narrow feature set. Well, that feature set just got a shot of adrenaline today, as a new update lets the Toq join the small list of smartwatches that support voice dictation. Read on for Gizmag's quick hands-on.
Today's Toq update adds Toq Talk (yep, that's pronounced "talk-talk") to the watch's firmware. Powered by the voice dictation powerhouse Nuance, it lets you talk to the Toq to dictate your text messages. Right now it doesn't support any other kind of dictation or voice input, though Qualcomm tells me that "additional use cases are currently being explored." Reminders and email dictation would be at the top of my wish list.
The kicker is you don't need a paired headset for this to work. Apparently the Toq had a built-in microphone this whole time. None of the watch's launch features supported mic input, so I certainly had no idea it was there – and I've had a Toq here in the office since December. It isn't often that you see tech products launch with Trojan Horse hardware features that only come to life with a software update, so this is going to be a very nice surprise for Toq owners.
I've been testing the new Toq update today, and it works as advertised. When you're looking at a contact or text message you've received, you'll see a new microphone icon. Tap the mic, and you'll have ten seconds to dictate a response. From my early testing, I'd say it's extremely accurate. With Nuance, the maker of Dragon voice software and the voice recognition engine behind Siri, that shouldn't be too surprising.
You might be wondering if such a major new feature will hurt battery life. It's too early to jump to any firm conclusions on that front, but I haven't noticed any concerning drain so far. We'll update this post if any yellow flags pop up, but right now it doesn't look like Toq Talk has any strings attached.
So does this change our thoughts on the Toq? Is it worth a look five months after it launched? Well, it definitely makes the smartwatch more appealing. I already liked its outdoor-friendly Mirasol display, long battery life, and wireless charging. Voice dictation is obviously a big bonus to add to that list.
The 6,000 pound gorilla in the room, though, is Android Wear. Upcoming Wear-running watches like the Moto 360 (below) and LG G Watch look much more advanced than any smartwatches we've seen so far. Google Now looks like it's going to be a great fit for wearables, with its voice control and contextually-aware notifications. The potential for third-party apps only sweetens that pot.
So though the Toq just became a much more useful watch today, I'm not sure if this is a great time to buy any smartwatch. Android Wear watches will be here within the next few months, and I'd bet we'll also see an iWatch (or whatever Apple calls it) later this year. If their prices are in the same ballpark as – or cheaper than – the Toq, you might end up regretting that purchase.
You can find out more about the Toq at the product page, and in the video, below. For more on the Toq, you can check out our full review from back in December.
Product page: Qualcomm