Samsung's next smartwatch, codenamed “Orbis,” could take a page from the Apple Watch with a rotating hardware element.
According to SamMobile's unnamed sources, Orbis will have a round watch face with a rotating bezel. This could allow users to scroll or zoom through certain apps instead of interacting through touch, and Samsung may launch an SDK so app makers can accommodate the bezel.
The general idea sounds similar to the “digital crown” on the side of Apple's upcoming Watch. Twisting the crown on the Apple Watch will let users zoom in on maps, expand the app list, scroll through message histories and more.
Orbis will reportedly have a crown-like button as well, though it won't twist. Instead, it'll function more like the power button on existing Samsung Gear watches, turning on the display with one tap and activating the S Voice virtual assistant with a double tap. Though it's not explicitly stated in SamMobile's report, it sounds like the watch will run Samsung's Tizen platform rather than Android Wear.
Signs of a round Samsung watch first surfaced last August, when SamMobile said the company was looking for an answer to Motorola's Moto 360 and LG's G Watch R smartwatches. Further evidence appeared in November, when Samsung was granted a patent that showed a round watch display with a rotating bezel. It's possible that Samsung will announce the watch at Mobile World Congress in February, making it the company's seventh smartwatch in a year and a half.
Why this matters: Apple made a big deal out of the digital crown when announcing the Apple Watch last September, saying it was key to allowing precise interaction on a wearable device. It seems Samsung has come up with its own spin on the idea, though it may be tricky to get developers on board after creating so many smartwatches built solely around touch.