Facebook is working on a smartwatch device and plans to release it next summer, reports Alex Heath at The Verge.
The watch will have two cameras, for shooting and sharing photos and video to Instagram and Facebook. From Heath’s report:
“A camera on the front of the watch display exists primarily for video calling, while a 1080p, auto-focus camera on the back can be used for capturing footage when detached from the stainless steel frame on the wrist.”
Samsung long ago tried putting a camera on a smartwatch (Galaxy Gear and Gear 2) but abandoned the idea because the feature wasn’t popular with users.
Images and video are very important to Facebook, and even more so to Instagram, which makes the camera seem like a logical move. One of the reasons people didn’t embrace smartwatch-based cameras was that shooting pictures of people and things is unwieldy from the wrist. That may be why Facebook reportedly plans to make its watch detachable from the band–so that it can be held upright for photos, then returned to the wrist.
At any rate, the Facebook watch, if it’s ultimately released, is yet another attempt by the company to own some piece of hardware–specifically one with a physical camera. Mark Zuckerberg once lamented that Facebook had missed the chance to produce its own smartphone as the mobile age got underway. The company did, however, manage to get a Facebook button added to an HTC phone called the “Status,” which was hyped by AT&T but failed to catch on.
Never forget that 2011 phone that had a physical Facebook button & the (actually pretty great) commercial for it starring blink-182. pic.twitter.com/rwWogL5Fkz
— Jack Appleby (@JuiceboxCA) April 23, 2020
The Verge report comes as tensions between Facebook and Apple heat up regarding privacy. Apple continues to add new privacy protections to its device operating systems, some of which directly harm Facebook’s business model, which depends on harvesting user data.
The two companies are also evolving from partners to competitors. Facebook is actively working on augmented reality glasses, which it believes will eventually become consumers’ go-to personal computing device, replacing the smartphone. Apple is also working on augmented reality glasses.
As for me, I have a long memory. I find little reason to trust Facebook with even more information about me–especially images collected from my wrist. Having the company’s eyes and ears pressed against my body all day long? Hard pass.