With Oculus VR headsets and Portal video conferencing smart displays, Facebook is increasingly becoming a hardware maker. One Facebook product reportedly in the pipeline is a smartwatch that’s trying to compete with Google-owned Fitbit and the Apple Watch.
The Information broke the news today and detailed how the Facebook smartwatch would be powered by “an open-source version of Google’s Android software.” This is similar to the Oculus Quest 2 and Go, with the report also revealing that the company is working on making its own OS for “future hardware.”
Additionally, the watch will have its own cellular connection rather than have to rely on a smartphone for internet access. On iOS, that experience is limited, though the experience of using a third-party wearable is better on Android.
One core aspect of this Facebook watch will be social features, like sending quick messages through the company’s platforms. Another feature is tracking workouts with friends or communicating with a trainer. This directly ties into the other health focus. Facebook reportedly has plans to connect with other fitness devices, like Peleton’s smart stationary bikes.
A release is not expected until next year with pricing to be “near the cost to produce it.” As such, Facebook will extract value from service usage. The company is planning a second-generation smartwatch “as soon as 2023,” revealing an aggressive timeline.
This product comes as Facebook tried to buy Fitbit in 2019. Of course, the fitness and wearable company opted for a Google acquisition, which closed at the start of this year. The rumored presence of built-in cellular on this device is highly indicative of Facebook’s desire to not be dependent on Google or Apple’s operating systems moving forward. This watch would join Facebook’s work on smart glasses that replace phones.
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