Smart watches have been a topic of conversation in recent weeks, with the Pebble watch shipping last month, and a number of rumors regarding Apple working on a smart watch for possible launch later in 2013.
Apple Inc. is experimenting with designs for a watch-like device that would perform some functions of a smartphone, according to people briefed on the effort.
Sources familiar with the company’s plans opened up that the watch will be made from curved glass, setting it apart from competitors such as Pebble’s smartwatch. At the moment, however, it seems the watch is still in a nascent stage of development.
Pete Bocko, the chief technology officer for Corning Glass Technologies that “you can certainly make [WIllow Glass] wrap around a cylindrical object and that could be someone’s wrist. Right now, if I tried to make something that looked like a watch, that could be done using this flexible glass,” reports Tech Crunch.
Apple declined to comment on its plans. But the exploration of such a watch leaves open lots of exciting questions: If the company does release such a product, what would it look like? Would it include Siri, the voice assistant? Would it have a version of Apple’s map software, offering real-time directions to people walking down the street?
Could it receive text messages? Could it monitor a user’s health or daily activity? How much will it cost? Could Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive, be wearing one right now, whispering sweet nothings to his wrist?
Apple CEO Tim Cook is a Nike board member and spoke about his Nike FuelBand at the D10 Conference last year, but demurred about Apple’s plans. He did say that wearable devices were “an interesting area”, though “the book hasn’t been written on that yet.”
Wearable fitness-focused devices were popular at CES this year, with devices like the Jawbone UP and Nike FuelBand leading the way, says Mac Rumors.
Actually the first rumors of a so-called “iWatch” have been circulating since at least 2011, when it was reported about Apple and Google’s forays into wearable computing. At the time, Apple’s experiments were described as a logical extension of the iPod Nano — a “curved glass iPod that would wrap around the wrist.”
The company has discussed such a device with its major manufacturing partner Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., one of these people said, as part of explorations of potentially large product categories beyond the smartphone and tablet.
Then, sources close to the company said users would be able to communicate with the device using Siri, though it remains to be seen whether or not this is still part of Apple’s plans.
Apple’s efforts come as companies have introduced various kinds of wearable gadgets, mainly designed to measure physical activity. More sophisticated devices face big technical challenges, but also are attracting investments from large technology companies, writes the Wall Street Journal.
“Apple’s certainly made a lot of hiring in that area,” said Sarah Rotman Epps, a Forrester analyst who specializes in wearable computing and smartphones. “Apple is already in the wearable space through its ecosystem partners that make accessories that connect to the iPhone,” she said,
She added: “This makes Apple potentially the biggest player of the wearables market in a sort of invisible way.”
If Apple does launch an iOS-based watch, it will do so amid increasing competition in the wearable tech market — not only from Pebble, but from Google, as well.
A company executive said that Google hopes its Google Glass headset will eventually comprise three percent of its revenue by 2015, as the search giant begins its push to make wearable computing mainstream, reports Verge.