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It seems the smartwatch train is chugging along with no sign of stopping. We've been dropping rumors about Apple's drive to create one of the devices over the past several months, and now it looks as though Microsoft's ready to jump into the race. Indeed, based on a report in The Verge this morning, it's apparently much farther along than its rival over in Cupertino. Reportedly, the prototype's already moved from the company's Xbox team and into the hands of its Surface tablet developers.
Yet both companies appear to be experimenting with a single essential stage — specifically, the development of a type of glass that can handle the type of tumbles a smartwatch will likely endure. Microsoft's prototype reportedly uses "Oxynitride Aluminum," a transparent form of aluminum that's three times as strong as regular glass. Microsoft is also in the process of securing 1.5-inch sheets of the material for use as displays from various manufacturers.
According to the report, Microsoft's smartwatch will use a modified version of Windows 8 and feature removable wristbands. So far, we know that the available colors include black, white, gray, yellow and blue. It'll even feature LTE support for data connections and around six gigabytes of memory, which marks a significant improvement over current smartwatches like Pebble. Unlike Pebble, the Microsoft smartwatch won't need to be connected to another device via Bluetooth in order to work.
The truth is that we really don't know how far Apple is along in its developments of its own smartwatch, although clues abound that suggest it's taking the concept seriously. Not only has Apple filed for ownership of the name "iWatch" and left a paper trail that chronicles its own search for a proper display material, but it's also made some telling personnel decisions lately. Just yesterday the Financial Times reported (via MacRumors) that Apple is "aggressively" seeking employees to assist with the smartwatch project, and earlier we reported that Apple enlisted the former CEO of fashion giant Yves Saint Laurent — ostensibly to provide insight into the key role fashion will play in the design of the device.
By all accounts, unfortunately, we won't actually see the device until "late next year."
Windows watch concept image via Fortune.
Follow this article's writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.