This week, we have been mostly talking about Apple and Fitbit. Why? Because it was time for these two wearable tech giants to talk numbers. Specifically, Q1 earnings. I'm not going to go into great deal about the figures, so go read Sophie's great #Trending column which breaks down the money talk.
Long story short, Fitbit is not losing as much money as it was previously and Apple's wearable business equates to a Fortune 500 company and its Watch is now outselling Fitbit. Let's not forget about Garmin either, which is still making dough since its bigger foray into wearables as well.
Away from the cash chat, Fitbit was also in the headlines at the beginning of the week for its hotly anticipated smartwatch that has not been delayed according to CEO James Park, despite recent speculation that the Fitbit smartwatch is having production problems with the hardware and software. We got to see our first renders of what are said to be of the company's debut watch, which is codenamed Project Higgs. It's fair to say team Wareable was not all that impressed by this Blaze and Surge mash-up.
Hmm, that looks familiar...
We also got our first look at the Fitbit headphones, but what was more interesting than these Bluetooth in-ears was details that Fitbit had reportedly spoken to Spotify about adding music streaming support to its smartwatch, but for whatever reason it didn't happen. Maybe it has something to do with Spotify's designs to make its own wearable.
Fitbit then handed the baton over to Apple with two rather big stories about its smartwatch. The first was the news that the Cupertino company is going to extend warranties for the first generation Apple Watch. That's because some Watch owners have reported battery swelling that has been damaging connections and the Watch display. Okay, now that is not good is it?
Hey, where's my apps gone?
Then there was the whole Apple Watch app yanking as Google, Amazon and eBay's Watch apps went missing in action. In fact, they disappeared a few weeks ago, but it was only just now noticed.
While Google says its Maps app is not gone for good, Amazon's looks less likely to return to the App Store any time soon. Once again, it brings up that debate about whether smartwatch owners are actually even using apps that much, and our US editor Hugh thinks the vanishing apps are actually a good thing. Oh, one last thing, it looks increasingly likely that Apple's big surprise at its WWDC event in June is going to be a Siri-powered smart speaker. Late to the party, yes, but our US reporter Husain thinks Apple can catch up to Google Home and Amazon Echo and I'd be inclined to agree with him on that.
Okay, so let's talk about all things that are not Apple and Fitbit. I normally leave our resident VR experts in the team (that's Sophie and Hugh) to talk about all things Rift, Gear VR or Vive related, but there are a couple of interesting announcements that have come from HTC which have piqued my interest. After announcing a real-time eye tracking add-on it's now looking at other ways to improve the existing headset by introducing a new headstrap. Before you question why I'd even get remotely excited about a new headstrap, this one has integrated headphones. For anyone that's had to put on a Vive headset and then a big pair of cans knows, this is a big deal and is going to help cut down on the bulk and the wires.
Favourite features of the week
- Hey, where's all the smartwatch innovation?Where do smartwatches still need to get to & who might take us there?
- One love: Opening up for wearable innovationSuunto and Sensoria want to help others building life-changing wearables
- Going inside San Jose State's VR incubatorFrom virtual classrooms to games to more
- Style your smartwatch with Spring/Summer 17 trendsA dose of catwalk fashion for smartwatch fans
- Apple's AR mixed reality moves exploredWe build the case that the Cupertino company is working on AR and VR
In other news, two years after raising the crowdfunding cash, Friday Labs is shipping its smart lock. I've never backed a crowdfunding campaign but I've certainly come close to doing it. What has prevented me from doing it is that you just don't know how that money is going to be spent and how much more work needs to be carried out on these projects. Kickstarter is doing a much better job of clarifying the status of campaigns, and it's a key question we ask in our weekly Crowdfund This column. Just ask anyone that's backed the Blocks modular smartwatch or the Bragi Dash headphones; it takes time to make a good product or even make the product at all.
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