This holiday is shaping up to be the battle of the smartwatches. Google struck first with the Android Wear-powered LG G Watch and Samsung Gear. Then there is Apple with the worst kept secret in tech, the iWatch. Not one to miss the party, it looks like Microsoft will be throwing its hat into the ring this fall with its own device. And it won’t be a “traditional” smart watch.
Based on information from a recent FCC filing and Windows insider Paul Thurrott, the Windows wearable actually appears to be more of a hybrid between smartband and smartwatch. Thurrott says Windows aims to produce a device similar to Samsung’s $199 Gear Fit while other reports compare it to an enhanced Nike Fuelband. The device is said to include a heart rate monitor, pedometer, and an open API.
Microsoft seems to be banking on cross-platform compatibility to give its wearable a leg up on the competition. The device will reportedly sync with Android and iOS devices, in addition to Windows Phone handsets. Android Wear watches work only with Android phones, and Samsung’s other Gear watches support only Galaxy phones. Presumably, the iWatch will sync with the iPhone and nothing else.
Thurrott claims the Windows watch will be released in Q4 2014 with possible Nokia or Surface branding. Tom’s Hardware also reported last week that the watch display will be located on the inside of the wrist instead of the top, providing an easier and more natural motion for checking the screen.
Without a firm release date more more details, it’s difficult to say how Microsoft’s band will stack up to the competition. But being more open than its rivals certainly won’t hurt.