Facebook ‘Working On Smartwatch’ With Messaging, Health Features

Facebook is reportedly working on a smartwatch with messaging and health features that could go on sale as early as next year.

The device is planned to run a version of Google’s open source Android operating system, The Information reported.

But Facebook is also working on its own operating system for hardware devices and future versions of the smartwatch could run that software.

The device would allow users to send messages with Facebook services such as Messenger and WhatsApp and is designed to have its own cellular data connection independent of a tethered smartphone.

Apple and Huawei currently dominate the smartwatch industry. Image credit: Huawei

Health data

Health features would include tracking workouts with friends or communicating with personal trainers, with the ability to connect to services from health and fitness companies such as fitness equipment maker Peloton.

Facebook’s plans call for the device to be sold at close to production cost, similar to its strategy with the Oculus virtual reality headset.

Competing products in the smartwatch market, which is dominated by Apple and Huawei, range from around £100 to more than £300.

Privacy is a concern for smart watches that collect health information, with Google’s acquisition of smartwatch maker Fitbit challenged over data protection concerns.

That acquisition was completed in January after the EU approved the deal late last year, following a series of commitments by Google over its use of Fitbit data.

Hardware expansion

Amazon’s “Halo” fitness band has also been criticised over its invasiveness of personal privacy.

Facebook has been beset by privacy complaints since its foundation, culminating with the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal that affected tens of millions of users.

Facebook already makes hardware devices such as the Oculus headsets and Portal video chat devices, and is working on Ray-Ban branded smart glasses set to arrive later this year.

Facebook’s smartwatch is planned to arrive on the market in 2022, with a second-generation device scheduled for as soon as the following year.

The device is reportedly at an advanced stage of development, but The Information said it could still be cancelled.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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