Swatch is developing its own operating system for an all-new smartwatch intended to compete directly with Apple Watch and Android Wear, according to company CEO Nick Hayek (via Bloomberg). The new smartwatch will be an addition to the Tissot brand, a subsidiary of The Swatch Group, and is set to launch towards the end of 2018.
With its debut so far out, details remain scarce on both the watch itself and the Swatch-made user interface, but Hayek mentioned that the technology will require less battery power and will "protect data better." According to Hayek, the company's strategy will give Swatch the chance to become a worthy competitor to Apple and Samsung wearables because of its focus on a beefy battery which wouldn't require users to charge the watch every day, or every other day, like Apple Watch.
Swatch’s approach will work better because it’s trying to “think small” as one of the biggest problem for wearable devices is battery drainage, Hayek said, speaking at the Biel, Switzerland headquarters of Omega, another of 18 brands that Swatch produces.
“There’s a possibility for wearables to develop as a consumer product, but you have to miniaturize and have an independent operating system,” the CEO said.
Luca Solca, an analyst who follows the luxury watch industry, pointed out that Swatch's own-made OS could be the company's first mistake. “People use smartwatches expecting to use the same apps they have on their mobiles," Solca explained. "A proprietary operating system defeats the object.” Swatch said it is willing to give its OS to third parties for the creation of apps, and about half of the parties interested originate from small companies in Silicon Valley who "don’t want to be dependent on Android and iOS."
The Tissot brand is set to launch its first smartwatch (seen in the image above), called the Tissot Smart Touch. The watch was announced a year ago and was set to launch in 2016, but it never appeared for users to order. When it does, Smart Touch will be a solar-powered wearable able to connect to iOS and Android smartphones, and include abilities like leading users to lost keys.
The Smart Touch will also include accessories like a standalone weather station that connects to the wearable and offers "hyper local weather information" like temperature, humidity, and air quality. With a debut so far out, it's unclear whether Swatch's new smartwatch will include any of the Smart Touch's features, or even what it might look like.
Although some smart wearable companies, like Fitbit, are facing troubled waters in the market, Apple Watch has become a "magnificent success" for Apple thanks to a boost in holiday sales in 2016. If the Swatch smartwatch debuts in late 2018, it would likely enter the market as a competitor to the Apple Watch Series 4.
Right now, rumors are understandably focused on the 2017 Apple Watch Series 3, with some suggesting the line's first major form factor change, and others theorizing that the wearable will see yet another iterative update this year with feature additions including cellular connectivity and the expected under-the-hood performance enhancements.