The Apple Watch is the definitive leader when it comes to smartwatches. And while Google, and many others, have tried to dethrone Apple, that hasn’t happened yet. So what if Facebook gave it a shot?
Based on information shared by sources to The Information, apparently Facebook is doing just that. The social network is currently hard at work on a smartwatch, and, as long as everything goes according to plan, the device may launch in 2022. The report indicates Facebook’s effort will focus not only on telling time, but also messaging — and health.
The smartwatch will reportedly have tight integration with Messenger, and the health-related features may work with third-party companies like Peloton.
However, the report notes that potential customers may balk at handing over health information to Facebook, even for a smartwatch:
The wrist device is expected to work via a cellular connection, without needing a smartphone. Facebook additionally plans to allow the device to connect to the services or hardware of health and fitness companies, such as Peloton Interactive, the maker of internet-connected exercise bikes. Given its spotty track record with user privacy, Facebook could face blowback from consumers with its wrist wearable, especially related to health aspects of the device.
Facebook will reportedly tap Google’s Android to run the smartwatch. However, the report also notes that the social network is working on its own operating system for future wearable devices.
The watch would run on an open-source version of Google’s Android software, similar to Facebook’s existing hardware products, though Facebook is also working to build its own operating system for future hardware. Assuming Facebook releases the first version by next year, it plans to follow up with a second-generation version of the watch as soon as 2023, one person briefed on the timeline said.
The smartwatch may debut in 2022, which suggests work is nearing completion on the device. And, indeed, the report indicates Facebook is “far along” on the smartwatch. However, it’s possible Facebook may scrap the plan altogether.
Here’s what the smartwatch will offer, at least in part:
With the planned smartwatch, Facebook hopes to emphasize features that utilize its social networking prowess, such as allowing users to track their workouts with friends or communicate with their trainer. The approach could be similar to that of companies such as Strava, an app that lets runners and cyclists track their workouts and compare performance with others.
Its messaging capabilities are expected to focus on quick interactions with people that would otherwise be done with a smartphone. Exactly how people will interact with the device couldn’t be learned. But existing smartwatches like the Apple Watch feature microphones to allow for voice commands.
So, what do you think? If you haven’t already invested with the Apple Watch, or are thinking you don’t want one anymore, would you consider going with a Facebook-made smartwatch instead?