By Binu Paul email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Feb 11, 2013 10:13 AM EST
Apple is reportedly testing a watch-like device powered by iOS in its Cupertino headquarters. The product in question could use Willow Glass, a new type of flexible glass that allows the device to have a curved touchscreen.
The watch would stand apart from the rest of smart watches in the market based on the company's understanding of how such glass can curve around the human body, The New York Times reported. The newspaper speculated that the Apple smartphone could perform a number of tasks such as mobile payments, access messages from users' smartphones or to monitor health and activity, and could be used for navigation.
Meanwhile, another report on The Wall Street Journal said the tech giant is apparently looking to explore a large product category beyond smartphones and tablets and has discussed the development of such a device with its major manufacturing partner Hon Hai Precision Industry, also known as Foxconn.
Citing unnamed people familiar with the Apple's explorations, The WSJ report said Foxconn has been working on a number of technologies that would be used to develop wearable device. "The Taiwan-based company has been working to address the challenges of making displays more power-efficient and working with chip manufacturers to strip down their products," the report said.
Wearable computing seems to be the next area of interest for tech titans such as Google and Apple. While Google is working on its Glass project and has shown prototypes of wraparound glasses that display digital information, Microsoft had presented a smart watch concept at the 2003 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Speculating on the major advancements that would come with Apple iWatch, Bruce Tognazzini, founder of Apple's Human Interface Group, said the device may possibly eliminate passwords on Apple devices, fix the embarrassing Apple maps and may prevent losing your iPhone. Elaborating on a wide range of ideas on the design and functionality of the iWatch, Tognazzini said the device can potentially serve as a fix for Apple Maps by utilizing crowd-sourced pressure data to create an altitude map of the world. Tognazzini does not work with Apple currently.
While some analysts strongly believe that smart watches will eventually replace smartphones entirely, others argue that they aren't yet useful enough to appeal to mainstream users.