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It's about time.
Last fall, when Apple introduced its holiday device lineup, many people hoped (myself included) the company would update the sixth generation iPod Nano so that it would be more than just a small media player and become a full-on smartwatch. The sixth-gen iPod Nano was small, square, and could be worn like a watch with the right accessory. It could play music, slideshows, audiobooks, podcasts, as well as tune in an FM radio station, log workouts, and, of course, show the time.
To graduate from glorified media player to true smartwatch, the sixth-gen iPod Nano needed just a few more features, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS. It also needed some apps to make it play nicely with the iPhone.
Instead, Apple canned the form factor altogether. The seventh-generation iPod Nano is an entirely new product that would not be used as anything other than a media player. Many people were disappointed (again, myself included), seeing their Apple-made smartwatch dreams go up in a puff of smoke.
Here we are five months later, and today's reports from the Times and Journal, thin though they are, have revived those dreams. The sources for these stories, who are of course the anonymous type, say Apple has been working with Foxconn, its manufacturing partner, on the watch. Other than "curved glass" and "iOS," there's not much to go on. Apple has hired people who have backgrounds in sensors and related technology. And display and glass technologies have improved by leaps and bounds in recent years.
Apple declined to comment on both stories, and of course has not hinted that any such product is under development. The only thing Apple has said about the future is that its product pipeline is "chock full of exciting stuff."
Apple could make waves in the smartwatch category because the competition is thin. Pebble is the smart(ish)watch of the day, thanks to its Kickstarter back story. It recently began shipping last month. Sony and Motorola also both have smartwatches that work in conjunction with their Android smartphones. Given the popularity of Apple's iPhone, a smartwatch that could easily sync with it and do things such as show messages or missed calls, could be a killer accessory.
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