Sony Unlocks Access To SmartWatch Firmware

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Now enthusiasts can write their own OS for the clever timepiece

Sony has opened access to the inner working of its Android- powered SmartWatch, as developers can now create their alternative firmware and flash the device, with all of the required information available on the Sony website.

The company hopes this move will help turn SmartWatch into a fully-fledged platform, and result in innovative applications.

Apple, Microsoft, Google and Samsung are all reportedly working on their own smartphone-connected watch concepts. Pebble, another smartwatch and a Kickstarter record holder, started shipping earlier this year.

At your own risk

Sony’s £79 SmartWatch features a 1.3-inch touchscreen with a 128 x 128 pixel resolution. It uses Bluetooth to connect to a smartphone over distances of up to 10 metres, and can display custom watchfaces, notifications, text and social network messages, music player controls and other information. The device can work for 3-4 days on a single charge.

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There are currently over 1,000 apps tagged “Sony SmartWatch” on Google Play, including software that allows users to take pictures, display GPS data and track eBay bids.

Previously, apps were developed using the Sony Add-on SDK, which somewhat limited developer options. For example, only Sony smartphone owners were able to answer or drop a call using the SmartWatch screen.

Since Thursday, Sony has allowed enthusiasts to take full control of the hardware over USB. The company has launched a new website that contains all information about how to flash the SmartWatch, and will keep a list of alternative firmware versions.

To demonstrate the capabilities of the newly opened platform, Sony is organising an Arduino hackathon in Malmo, Sweden, during which developers will run Arduino software on the SmartWatch.

“Please note that this is only for advanced developers. Normal consumers are strongly advised to keep the official tested and verified Sony firmware,” warned Sony. “Sony can no longer guarantee the full functionality of your device, and will not be responsible for any alternative firmware being put on the device. Certain functions on your device might cease to work, and performance might not be ideal.”

According to information on the website, SmartWatch can be permanently destroyed through a bothched firmware upgrade and even cause physical injuries by overheating. The company also said it will be unable to provide serious developer support.

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