Development of Meta’s strong Apple Watch competitor has been suspended for the time being

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To this day, almost exactly a year ago, we told you that Facebook (now Meta) had invested nearly a billion dollars to develop a smartwatch that would be released in the summer of 2022. Reportedly made of stainless steel, the projected price of $400 indicated that the device would be made to compete with the Apple Watch. Thanks to a modular design, the screen can be detachable and users with dual cameras can send photos to Facebook or Instagram.

According to a prototype seen by Bloomberg, one camera was found under the screen with the other on the back against the wearer’s wrist. While that second camera placement may seem odd, users can quickly remove the watch face from the strap to take photos with that rear camera. But that placement prevented the device from converting nerve signals from the wrist into digital commands.
This technology, known as electromyography, is at the top of Meta’s to-do list. The company promotes the use of electromyography as a way to use a person’s hands as a “controller.” Meta says, “This is about decoding those signals at the wrist — the actions you’ve already decided to perform — and translating them into digital commands for your device.”

The watch would also track users’ activities, play music and send messages. And the smartwatch would become one of the devices that allows people to communicate with each other in the metaverse where people mingle like digital avatars.

Employees working on the watch, codenamed Milan, were reportedly told that development of the watch has been halted. The timepiece is set to hit the market next spring for $349.

The prototype seen by Bloomberg included the following features:

  • A detachable dial with a gold colored case. There are two buttons on the side, one a long pill-shaped button and the other a small round one.
  • A 5 MP camera on the front of the watch and a 12 MP camera on the back for use when the screen is detached.
  • Wi-Fi, GPS and mobile connectivity via eSIM.
  • 18 hours of battery life.
  • Apps for Spotify, WhatsApp, Instagram Stories, daily activity tracking, workouts, the photo gallery, heart rate, calendar, settings and breathing.
While the watch did not have an app store, users would be able to manage apps through their Facebook account and some details of the user’s activities using the watch would have been sent to Facebook. The watch was developed by Meta’s Reality Labs, the part of the company that built the metaverse. While still an important part of Meta, spending by this group will result in red ink for the foreseeable future, leading to “significant” financial losses for Meta in the short term.
Of Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature that allows the vast majority of iPhone users to opt out of being tracked to online ads, Meta has to be smart about how it spends its money.

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