Mobile recap: Asus VivoWatch; new ARM chips; LoopPay in Galaxy S6

In the run up to March’s Mobile World Congress Event, there won’t likely be any big mobile hardware announcements. But there are some clues as to what’s coming. Asus is working on its second smartwatch, for example.

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With its ZenWatch (pictured), the company was among that last of Google’s hardware partners to release an Android Wear watch. Based on the trademarked named Asus VivoWatch, however, it could be among the first to market with a watch built on Microsoft’s technology. The Vivo name is generally associated with Asus’s products powered by Windows, so Microsoft software is a likely bet for the VivoWatch. It’s even possible Asus has licensed the sensor technology used in Microsoft’s own Band, which launched last October alongside the Microsoft Health platform.

Either way, there’s little doubt the company is working on a new wearable device for health and sleep tracking based on information found in the trademark filing and in the device’s Bluetooth SIG certification data. I’m expecting to hear more about the VivoWatch at MWC.

Samsung is likely to take center stage at the show as well, with a March 1 event scheduled. It’s a safe bet the new Galaxy S6 will be introduced. Will it have Samsung’s own Exynos chip inside? Very likely, yes, and it may have one more surprise too: A mobile payment system meant to rival Apple Pay.

LoopPay Card Case Transaction

 

In December there were reports of Samsung working with LoopPay for mobile payments. More recently, leaks suggest that the two companies are indeed partnering together with the Galaxy S6. LoopPay can wirelessly mimic data on magnetic stripe of a credit card, using magnetic waves. Based on reports, it appears this technology may be built into the Galaxy S6; currently LoopPay is available with add-on cases.

By integrating the technology — and supplementing it with a fingerprint scanner for security — Samsung could natively offer a payment system similar to Apple’s. Perhaps it even works a deal with LoopPay to co-brand it: Samsung S-Pay (or something like that) powered by LoopPay. Whatever it’s called, I expect Samsung to market it heavily to help propel Galaxy S6 sales.

There will certainly be more announcements at this year’s MWC, but I’m already looking forward to next year’s. That’s around the time when we’ll see mobile devices using the newest ARM chips, the details of which were announced this week.

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A new CPU architecture called the Cortex A72 will replace the current A57 and A15 processors. ARM says the new CPU is 3.5 times more powerful than the A15 while using 75 percent less energy. A new GPU design, the Mali-T880, will also bring benefits: nearly double the graphics performance of today’s Mali but with 40 percent less energy usage.