September 5, 2013, 11:23 AM

eBay unveils first m-commerce app for Galaxy smartwatch

Consumers can receive notifications and make bids on their wrists.

Lead Photo

A screenshot of eBay's Galaxy Gear smartwatch app.

EBay Inc. continues its pioneering work in mobile commerce, debuting a mobile app for Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.'s new smartwatch, the Galaxy Gear, which goes on sale Sept. 25. Many mobile technology experts say wearable computing, which includes smartwatches and computerized eyewear like Google Glass, is the next step in the evolution of mobile devices.

Though smartwatches are still in their infancy, it is essential for eBay to experiment with every connected device that potentially can enable commerce, says Steve Yankovich, vice president of innovation and new ventures at eBay.

“Thanks to the adoption of mobile devices, consumers are now addicted to their devices and will quickly adopt new user experiences,” Yankovich says. “If eBay wants to remain at the forefront of merging commerce and technology, we have to be all over these innovations and remember to try, pivot and evolve.”

The eBay Galaxy Gear app enables users to place bids and displays notifications when users win an item, items in saved searches are listed, counter-offers are received, best offers are received, messages are received and items are sold. Samsung says 12 apps will be available for the Galaxy Gear at launch, and eBay's app is the first in the commerce category.

The Galaxy Gear smartwatch, which will sell for $299, requires a Samsung smartphone, for now only the new Galaxy Note 3, which also will sell for $299, to function. Similarly, the eBay smartwatch app requires a companion smartphone app to function. Consumers use the Galaxy Gear smartphone app to edit settings for the smartwatch app, and to view all notifications in one place. Both the Galaxy Gear and the Galaxy Note 3 run the Android mobile operating system from Google Inc.

The smartwatch links with the smartphone using Bluetooth wireless networking technology built into both devices. The smartwatch features a 1.6-inch touchscreen display. The device shows text messages and e-mails, and can answer and place phone calls. The smartwatch is controlled by touching and swiping, or by voice commands.

“Unlike a phone that’s tucked into a purse or pocket, a wearable device is conveniently located and always out,” eBay's Yankovich says. “It’s important for us to maximize both the delight of our customers and how often they engage with our products.”

On another wearable computing front, Google next year will launch an app store for users of the Google Glass eyewear device, the company says. Google Glass will be available for sale to the public next year. Google has not announced dates for the launch of Google Glass or its app store.

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