After months of falling smartphone sales, HTC looks ready to try its hand at the smartwatch game in an effort to boost revenue. Bloomberg reported on Thursday that HTC is working on multiple wearable devices including reworking of a currently available Qualcomm watch, a new one built around Google Now and a music-playing bracelet. The company plans to show off at least one of these at next week’s Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona.
The first may not be shown publicly, but instead, HTC is expected to demonstrate it to carriers. Bloomberg’s sources say the smartwatch is based on Qualcomm’s Toq; a limited edition reference design watch. I reviewed the Toq in December and while I found some great technology advances in the product — the low-power color screen and wireless charger — the software and user interface could stand some improvements.
I’m more intrigued by the second HTC wearable that Bloomberg’s sources mention: A watch that’s built on Google Now, Google’s contextual personal assistant software. Last August I explained why I want Google Now on my wrist:
“Pretend such a watch exists. You’re walking around downtown when a reminder pops up because you’re near a food market. “Buy milk” your watch says. The watch knows you’re walking around and warns you of an upcoming weather change: Better get inside. Your next appointment pops up as a reminder, just in time for you attend. A little while later, the watch says “Your spouse just left work and will be home in 35 minutes” followed by a reminder to leave work a little early because there’s traffic on the way home. You get the idea.”
Instead of turning the smartwatch into a small second screen for the phone — the approach that Sony, Samsung and others have taken — offloading the contextual useful information at a glance is what Google Now can bring to the wrist.
It’s a smart play by HTC if indeed that’s what it is doing, although I have to wonder what happens if Google does the same at some point.
There appears to be plenty of time to figure that out, however. HTC isn’t expected to debut any smartwatches until the 2014 holiday season. That leaves time for HTC and other companies to tweak their wearable device plans in this rapidly growing segment.