Microsoft’s Xbox Watch doesn’t want to stay hidden forever despite being canceled abruptly while in development. Late last year there were pictures of the Xbox Watch posted online, and now we’re getting another look at the now-dead smartwatch. It gives us an idea of what the hardware and software would’ve been like had Microsoft kept working on the product for a release.
Apps live on the smartwatch appears to be limited to just four — Workout, GPS, Settings, and USB Debugger. So the unit here, which was leaked by an anonymous Twitter user, was likely a very early prototype. Microsoft was obviously in no position to ask third-party partners to create custom apps for a smartwatch that wasn’t available or even ready to be tested on.
Other features from previous reports included a 1.5-inch display, removable bands, a Kinect sensor, and accessories to work with an Xbox console.
Microsoft doesn’t currently have a smartwatch on the market; however, for years it wanted to get into the conversation and fight against products like the Apple Watch and Samsung’s Gear. But those efforts have been put on hold.
The company released the Band in 2014 followed by a successor in 2015. Those, however, were more of an activity tracker than a smartwatch. And before the Band debuted, Nokia was also working with Microsoft on a modern smartwatch that also got canceled. There appears to be no plans to make a new push in wearables as the company is focused on Windows, Surface, Xbox for hardware at the moment.
It’s also probably a good idea that the Xbox Watch was canceled. The wearables industry has definitely lost its appeal in recent years, and few brands have sustained long-term success.
Anyone who’s loyal to Microsoft will have to look elsewhere for a smartwatch, and the Apple Watch and Gear S3 Sport are certainly good options. Maybe down the road Microsoft will put its Surface engineers to work and create a high-end smartwatch that enters the race competitively.