Apple has dominated the smartwatch market for a while now, but it seems a new contender is coming for the Apple Watch's (digital) crown. We've heard tell that Facebook is working on its own wearable – and if new rumours are to be believed, the design sounds pretty wild. But with Facebook's history of privacy-related scandals, it's hard not to find it ever-so-slightly frightening.
With a focus on messaging and fitness, the Android-based device is said to feature its own cellular connection (removing the need for an accompanying smartphone). But perhaps the most unexpected feature is the cameras. That's right, cameras. Two of the things. On a smartwatch. (Check out the best Apple Watch deals if you're after the best wearable available right now).
According to The Information, an anonymous source "with direct knowledge of the device" (Mark Zuckerberg, perhaps?) says the new product will help inch Facebook towards its goal of "controlling the next computing platforms after smartphones". Although the first iteration of the watch will run on Android, Facebook is also allegedly working on its own operating system for future hardware.
And now, The Verge has reported that the Facebook watch (FaceWatch?) will feature a detachable display with two cameras – one at the front which exists "primarily for video calling", and another for capturing footage when detached from the wrist.
In some ways, it should hardly come as a surprise that the company is considering a foray into wearables – from the Oculus Quest (one of our best VR headsets) to the Portal smart screen, Facebook's hardware ambitions are no secret. A smartwatch might seem like the logical next step.
And yet, we can't help but wonder if wearable tech is indeed a step too far for a company that isn't exactly famous for privacy. The smartwatch is a rather intimate piece of tech, both in terms of the personal and location data the devices tend to aggregate, and the fact that they're designed to be worn pretty much everywhere – not least in bed (how else are you going to get hold of that precious sleep data?).
In the wake of various privacy scandals for the company (most famously 2018's Cambridge Analytica data breach debacle), many users might well hesitate to strap a Facebook-owned device to their person. Persuading people to buy the very concept of a Facebook watch (FaceWatch? WatchFace?) could be an uphill battle in itself – let alone persuading them to actually, you know, buy it.
There's no intel on price yet, but this could be one way for Facebook to make the device stand out – while the Apple Watch line up has diversified in recent years to suit a range of budgets, you'll still have to shell out £199 for the cheapest model, the Apple Watch Series 3. If Facebook can go cheaper, perhaps that'll be one way to entice users to offer up their wrists.
Time will tell whether Facebook's watch will manage to disrupt the smartwatch market, but we have a feeling Apple won't be worried – with such a sales gulf between the market leader and its competition, like most other Android-based watches, Facebook's offering is likely to be battling for second place. If you're looking for Apple's latest and greatest, check out today's best Apple Watch Series 6 deals below.