The size of the group suggests that the so-called "iWatch" project has moved beyond test stages.
Apple's iPod Nano has already been adapted by some customers as a makeshift watch by adding a wristband. But an iWatch would be a significant advance, using new curved glass from Corning and presumably running Apple's iOS operating system, the same used in iPhones and iPads. (iPods, except for the iPod Touch, run a custom operating system.)
A smartwatch would be Apple's entry into the field of wearable computing—devices evocative of the old "Dick Tracy" comic strip, where phone calls and notifications arrive on a lightweight device, handling most mobile functions that don't require a large screen while staying connected to a phone or tablet that can stay in a pocket or purse.
Pebble, a gadget backed by prospective buyers of the device on crowdfunding site Kickstarter, has proven that there's considerable consumer interest in smartwatches.
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