Get ready for the summer of smartwatches

The years of speculation, wishful thinking and predictions are over. The smartwatch is finally here.

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Google won't have the only major smartwatch operating system on the market.

A report published on the Forbes website this week says Microsoft is working on a new smartwatch that could be on the market as early as this summer. The watch would have sensors for health monitoring and it would sync with Android phones, iPhones and Windows Phones.

Cross-platform compatibility would make the Microsoft smartwatch vastly more compatible than any of Samsung's smartwatches.

There are lots of other exciting things happening in the smartwatch category. For example, a startup called Kairos is working on a mechanical watch with a crystal that turns into a smartwatch screen when notifications come in. It's now available for pre-order for delivery by the end of the year. It's not clear how closely the final product will match the absolutely stunning model shown in the promotional video. But the concept is promising.

Also: Samsung is reportedly working on a smartwatch with a built-in phone, possibly called the Gear Solo. It wouldn't need a Bluetooth connection to a smartphone because the phone feature is built in. Reports say Samsung is talking to U.S. and European carriers about distribution and support.

What might happen this summer

Most Apple watchers expect Apple to introduce a smartwatch, which could be called the iWatch. Apple has hired a range of professionals who would be necessary for developing a smartwatch, including fashion types, battery experts, medical sensor specialists and more.

Rumors are rumors, and they can't be taken too seriously. But a rumor surfaced this week that Apple's iWatch will have a round face like the Moto 360 and that it will go into production this summer. It's possible that Apple could even announce the iWatch on Monday at its Worldwide Developers Conference.

All rumors about the specific attributes of the Apple iWatch are unreliable. However, many points of evidence strongly suggest that Apple is working on some kind of smartwatch. And an Apple watch would very likely be accompanied by a strong developer program and would win many app developers.

Why smartwatches are important

A very big thing is about to happen. After halting semiprogress over the past decade, a massive change will take place. All or most of the big mobile operating system companies -- the big mobile app ecosystem cultivators -- will unleash their platforms and programs and products.

Think of the smartphone market before apps and after. Night and day. Things will be the same in the smartwatch market: Apps will change everything, and in ways that are impossible to imagine.

Smartwatches are a big deal because they could change human behavior and culture. The ubiquity of smartphones has nearly killed the cultural habit of people wearing wristwatches. The smartwatch revolution will bring back the wristwatch. And it will start the wearable computing revolution, too.

It all starts this summer. And it's about time.

This article, "Get Ready for the Summer of Smartwatches," was originally published on

Mike Elgan writes about technology and tech culture. You can contact Mike and learn more about him at You can also see more articles by Mike Elgan on

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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