Development of a Meta smartwatch is on pause, Bloomberg reported Thursday, citing an anonymous “person with knowledge of the matter.”
Facebook’s parent company never confirmed it was making a smartwatch to rival the Apple Watch and Samsung’s Galaxy Watch. It also declined to comment on Bloomberg’s story. However, Bloomberg claimed that Meta has been working on a smartwatch, codenamed Milan, “for at least two years.”
The publication said Meta was aiming to release its smartwatch next spring for about $350, but workers “were told this week that the device is no longer on track for production.”
Bloomberg claims to have seen images and video of a Meta watch prototype that featured two cameras to compete with the Apple Watch’s zero. That dual-camera design—which purportedly included one 5MP camera south of the watch face and a 12MP one on the face’s backside facing the wearer’s arm—was apparently part of the problem, however.
According to Bloomberg’s source, the Meta watch’s back camera was for letting people take pictures of the outside world (after unstrapping it from their wrist, of course). But the camera “caused issues,” Bloomberg said, with electromyography, a technology Facebook has touted that uses sensors to turn wrist nerve signals into watch commands. Facebook has discussed the technology’s potential for uses like “clicking” by pinching and releasing your thumb and forefinger; virtual keyboards; and augmented reality (AR) access.
Bloomberg also pointed to economics likely playing a role in the Meta Watch getting shelved: Meta’s Q1 2022 April earnings call lowered expected 2022 expenses from $92–$97 billion to $90–$95 billion. Although Meta said it expected Reality Labs, which focuses on Meta’s AR/VR “metaverse” and was developing the smartwatch per Bloomberg, to be the second-largest 2022 expense growth driver (after Meta’s Family of Apps business). Meta told Reuters in May that Reality Labs would have to cancel and postpone some projects due to costs.
If you’ve been eager to wear a Meta product on your wrist, though, there’s still hope. Bloomberg claims that Meta will continue developing “multiple other wrist-worn devices” and may incorporate features from its smartwatch R&D into another product.
Those features, according to Bloomberg, include a removable watch face with a gold-colored case featuring two buttons and an eSIM slot; Spotify, WhatsApp, and Instagram Stories apps; apps for tracking activity, heart rate, and breathing; photos and calendar apps; and an 18-hour battery life.
According to Bloomberg, the would-be Apple Watch rival would have lacked an integrated app store, requiring wearers to use a Facebook account for management.
The first Meta watch prototype image (as seen above) was seemingly spotted in the Facebook View app for Ray-Ban Stories smartglasses in October. This was after a June 2021 report from The Verge claiming that Facebook (as the tech giant was called at the time) was developing a dual-camera smartwatch.