Facebook is allegedly once again trying to break into the hardware space. According to a report by The Information, Facebook might be preparing a smartwatch to compete against the Apple Watch. The device is reportedly being prepared for a 2022 launch and will feature tight integration with Facebook’s services, while also featuring health-centric features.
The Information reports that the Facebook watch will be tightly integrated with Messenger and will offer health-related integration with services like Peloton. The report also suggests that the watch will feature cellular connectivity so that users don’t have to rely on a smartphone for connectivity. What would be interesting to see is how Facebook would market a wearable that’s always connected, given the company’s abysmal track record with privacy and handling people’s personal data. The watch is expected to run on Google’s WearOS, but the report says that subsequent devices might run on Facebook’s own OS which allegedly is in development. “The watch would run on an open-source version of Google’s Android software, similar to Facebook’s existing hardware products, though Facebook is also working to build its own operating system for future hardware. Assuming Facebook releases the first version by next year, it plans to follow up with a second-generation version of the watch as soon as 2023,” said The Information, citing a source close to the project.
Facebook’s move into the wearable space does make sense, given that Google acquired Fitbit last year, bolstering its health-related offerings. The move raised some concerns about Google getting access to FitBit users’ health data, which the company could use for monetization. Google has promised to keep the FitBit related data separate from what it collects on its own. Facebook’s other hardware project, Portal, a smart speaker, had its launch delayed due to the massive Cambridge Analytica expose. The Information, for its part, reports that while work on the project is far along, Facebook could still decide to delay the release, or even completely scrap the project.