|Lending further weight to Apple’s rumored plans for an ‘iWatch’, the company is said to have assigned up to 100 people to the project. An earlier rumors suggested that Apple might be experimenting with smartwatch-like device running the company’s iOS mobile operating system and using a new type of curved glass. The fresh rumor reported by Bloomberg would have Apple much closer to a potential product launch than previously thought.
According to Bloomberg, the smartwatch team has ballooned in size over the past twelve months, and includes the personal that one would expect assigned to a product that has been given the greenlight to go to market. Among the staff assigned to the project are software and hardware engineers who have previously developed the iPhone and iPad product line. These are puported to have been joined by product managers and marketing people.
Late last year a separate rumor about the smartwatch project indicated that Apple is working with Intel on the device. If accurate, it would suggest that Apple may not power the device with an ARM-based design as it does its iPhone, iPad and iPod touch lines. Intel has been developing wireless charging technology that could be a good fit for a smartwatch device, as it would overcome the problem of users having the hassle of plugging a smartwatch in for recharging on a regular basis.
When Apple refreshed the iPod line in September, observers noted that the company dropped its watch-like iPod nano design, reverting to a larger candy bar form factor and bringing back video playback capabilities. Apple had acknowleged user and third-party interest in the sixth-generation Nano by adding up to 19 different clock UIs to the device for the purpose. Dropping the design fueled speculation at the time that Apple might be developing its own smartwatch.
Bloomberg’s sources say that the purported smartwatch ‘may perform some of the tasks now handled by the iPhone and the iPad.’ Other companies have tried their hand at smartwatches, with Sony the largest company to test the waters with its MW2 SmartWatch. Electronista/MacNN has had considerable hands-on experience with the Sony SmartWatch and has found it to be surprisingly useful, even though Sony’s implementation requires a smartphone to give the device any functionality. The addition of an RSS widget and calculator widgets among other applets has made for a positive experience, although it can be somewhat sluggish.
Former Apple designer ‘Tog’ recently speculated that Apple could be well into the development of a smartwatch and outlined his vision for how Apple’s device might work. He sees such a device as acting a smart ‘key’ for other iDevices, eliminating the need to use a passcode, while also being able to use Siri to remotely control a users device. In Tog’s vision, it could also be used to enhance Apple’s map data by the inclusion of an altimeter and GPS module. With pressure mounting on Apple to launch another category defining device, Tog believes that the technology is there for Apple to leverage.