Smartwatches wage war for your wrist

19th Apr 2013 | 10:00

Smartwatches wage war for your wrist

Every tech company seems to have an eye on the time

First, tech came for our desks. Then, it came for our pockets. Now, it wants our wrists. The giants of tech are at war, and they're sending their armies up your sleevies.

This week, TomTom said it wasn't entering the smartwatch war while cunningly unveiling its new smartwatches. The difference? TomTom doesn't want you to wear its watches every day: they're for sports, and could be "as indispensable as your running shoes." We've had a play with the new Multi-Sport GPS Watch, and we like what we've seen so far: it has "every chance of standing out from the crowd."

It's going to be a big crowd, led by Apple. The Apple iWatch rumour was stoked again this week when an Apple board member used the word "watches", and we're also hearing that former Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch is on the iWatch team. Insert your own "it'll run Flash!" joke here.

Where Apple goes everybody else follows, and the only person who isn't reportedly working on a smartwatch is your mum. Samsung has confirmed its smartwatch project, LG says it might make one too, Google's got one in development and now Microsoft is apparently making an Xbox watch too. There's also word that Microsoft is working on "a wrist-warmer with a 1.5-inch screen", Kate Solomon reports, although "there's no guarantee that this watch, which would work alongside its Windows Phone products and is being made in conjunction with an in-house handset prototype, will ever see the light of day."

Pebble

It's not just about Apple

As you might expect, the rumour mill has gone into Apple watch-related overdrive, with reports suggesting the iWatch will get fingerprint scanning, will be made from curved glass and might even get an Apple radio service. It's also been suggested that the iWatch will also get the NFC technology that was supposed to turn up in the last two generations of iPhone.

As Patrick Goss explains, an NFC-enabled watch might be quite handy: "Once I have an NFC chip on my wrist then all of those brilliant ideas that have been hinted at since the phone revolution first tied the landline up against the wall and sacrificed it in the name of portability become valid," he says.

"QR codes that nobody could be bothered scanning for a trailer or voucher can be replaced with a tap of my watch on a poster, the rainforest worth of vouchers that got discarded in the nearest bin after dying a slow expiration date death in a wallet or purse would be front and centre, making loyalty more satisfying. And, I could quite merrily shop without the worry about having the cash for a coffee when I get tired."

For now, almost everything you read about smartwatches is sheer speculation: as Kate Solomon points out, "Only Samsung has so far come out and said that it's thinking about releasing an intelligent watch at some point; LG, Google, Apple and now Microsoft are purely confined to the Maybe file." Nevertheless, Solomon has a plan: "To save time from now on, we'll just assume that every company in the world is working on a smart watch."

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