Its been a busy week as usual in the wearables industry and there are a few interesting developments worth noting. Developers working on vr content have a new opportunity from Google, Apple Watch users will soon be able to use voice commands on their smartwatches and FitBit is having to let go of some its staff. Check out the full details in our wearables news roundup below:
Google Opens Daydream to Developers
Google has now opened the development of Apps for its Daydream Virtual Reality headset to all developers. The company had previously worked with a select number of devs to create the initial wave of Daydream apps. Now Google is gearing up for an influx of more software options for its users.
The change in policy should see an influx and a variety of apps which should see the Daydream ecosystem start to grow. Virtual reality app developers will be keeping a close eye on developments here. And if you’re a Google Daydream owner, it’s certainly a step in the right direction for the platform.
SiriKit for 3rd Party Apps Comes to Apple Watch
Apple’s next software update for the Apple Watch is believed to finally allow users to talk to Siri via the smartwatch. Owners of the iPhone makers’ smartwatch will also be able to interact with third-party apps. In a report based on new developer documentation, TechCrunch reports that Apple Watch users will be able to call an Uber, or make purchases, for example.
The new update features a number of other enhancements, including a new muting system. The SiriKit for third-party apps will initially cover apps in messaging, photos, ride hailing, payments and making calls.
Adding Siri support is a step in the right direction for the Apple Watch. One of the biggest challenges smartwatches face is that our mobile phones, with their bigger screens, are still close at hand. With voice commands, taking certain actions will mean the smartphone can remain firmly tucked away more often in the future.
Fitbit Slims Down on Staff Size
The two news reports above show companies in the wearables market making moves to improve user engagement and wider consumer adoption of wearable tech. But the market is facing headwinds and many companies in the sector are struggling. Case in point, FitBit. The company is the market leader in fitness wearables but is cutting down on staff in order to stem its declining revenues.
FitBit will be shedding 110 members of staff globally, a figure that amounts to 6% of the company’s workforce. The fitness band maker predicts that the job cuts will save it $200m anually. The markets reacted strongly to the news, with FitBits shares plummeting to an all-time low of $6.33.
That new low share price is in contrast to a high of $30.50 on the company’s’ debut on the New York Stock Exchange 19 months ago. While the staff cull is sad news for those employs losing their jobs and for the wearables market FitBit is still looking to achieve up to $1.7bn of revenue this year.
The interest in wearables has cooled at the moment but the demand still remains. Going forward whats required is new, innovative products, and in the case of VR and AR, improved hardware and a healthy library of software and applications.