Meta — the company formerly known as Facebook — has long said to be planning a smartwatch. It’s a bold ambition, given the enduring popularity of the Apple Watch and other offerings from the likes of Samsung and Garmin, but it seems that the company does have some truly innovative ideas to try and distinguish the Facebook Smartwatch from most of the other devices on our list of the best smartwatches.
Putting aside the issue of whether people actually want Facebook on their wrist as well as their phones, the company has a mixed record when it comes to hardware. The Oculus Quest 2 is deservedly a runaway success, but Facebook Portal less so. And while few will remember the HTC ChaCha — a smartphone with a dedicated Facebook button — those that do will recall that it hardly set the world alight.
Here’s everything we know about the Facebook Smartwatch so far.
Facebook Smartwatch design
Although the quality varies massively, there’s very little material difference between one smartwatch and another at the moment. But suffice it to say Facebook is considering a major disruption in this respect.
We’re apparently looking at a detachable display — something we haven’t seen since the Fitbit Blaze. But while the long retired Fitbit allowed you to remove the body of the watch for charging, here it’s for photographs and video. You can see how this might look in a patent diagram below, uncovered by GizChina.
According to The Verge’s sources, the front of the screen will have a basic camera for video calls from the wrist (with a notch, unfortunately), but removing the display from the case will reveal a 1080p auto-focus camera for both photos and video. The idea is for users to capture both snaps and footage of their daily adventures for easy sharing with Facebook, much like the company’s recent glasses, Ray-Ban Stories.
This design also means that Meta is apparently considering unconventional ways of wearing it when not on the wrist. Two inside sources have said that the company is discussing the camera with third parties, meaning it could be mounted like a GoPro.
One other more conventional detail: apparently the wearable is likely to come in white, black or gold.
Facebook Smartwatch features
The curious thing about a design that seems entirely focused around photography and video capture is that the earliest report about a Facebook Smartwatch didn’t even mention cameras.
Instead the report, from The Information, claimed that the watch would be focusing on messaging and heath. For the former, Facebook Messenger is said to be baked in, and for the latter, the company is apparently looking at the possibility of tie-ins with companies like Peloton.
Curiously, this early report also said that the Facebook Smartwatch would not need a smartphone to run, with the company instead apparently talking to carriers about LTE support. While that may seem odd, given smartwatches’ most useful feature is the delivery of notifications, this might at least make privacy-conscious users more inclined to give the Facebook Smartwatch a spin.
The watch will apparently run on a custom version of Android, but not Wear OS. Though it’s claimed that this is only for the first version, with subsequent upgrades moving towards an operating system developed by Meta itself.
Facebook Smartwatch possible release date and price
The first generation of Facebook Smartwatch is anticipated at some point in 2022, with a second-generation version possibly following in 2023.
The Verge’s report says that the Facebook Smartwatch will be in the $400 region, putting it, somewhat optimistically, firmly in Apple Watch territory.
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Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.