Facebook (which is in the process of rebranding as Meta) has been rumoured to be working on a smartwatch for some time, but now Bloomberg (opens in new tab) has found the first picture of the wearable, carelessly left inside the code for the company’s Ray Ban Stories app.
While this may bear only a passing resemblance to the product that eventually ends up on peoples’ wrists, it’s an interesting insight into what the company is thinking.
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The rounded square face — I refuse to write “squircular (opens in new tab)” — feels slightly reminiscent of the Apple Watch, or some of Fitbit's smartwatches. But the most startling design choice is the presence of a cut-out for a camera, which is something Apple hasn’t included on its wearables, despite embracing it for every flagship phone since the iPhone X, up to the iPhone 13, and also the brand new MacBook Pro 2021.
While the screen isn’t turned on in the picture, it’s pretty clear that the notch is for a front-facing camera, something that no mainstream smartwatch currently offers. You can potentially see the appeal — a built-in camera would allow video calls from the wrist and possibly even some awkward photography — but whether Facebook with all of its privacy baggage is the company to kickstart that trend is another matter entirely.
That’s a pity, because an early report into Facebook’s plans (opens in new tab) point to a device that could shake up the quite samey world of smartwatches. Sources at the company claim that the device would in fact have two cameras, with one on the front for video calls and one on the back for regular photography.
Obviously you don’t need lots of close up pictures of your wrist, so the body could be removed from the strap to be used as a quick-access camera. Images and videos captured would then be shared with Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp.
On top of this, it would also apparently go big on fitness tracking to ensure it remained competitive with the Apple Watches and Fitbits of this world. But generally, it sounds like the company views it as a lifestyle product to join its recently unveiled Ray-Ban Stories smartglasses.
Whether or not the smartwatch takes off, it sounds like Facebook is in it for the long haul, with reports indicating the company already has plans for a second and third-generation version. Time will tell as to whether any make our list of the best smartwatches you can buy.