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Apple iWatch could be crucial for the 'smart home'

The Samsung Galaxy Gear launched two weeks ago to widespread derision. Venturebeat's Devindra Hardawar reviewed it as "relentlessly inessential", and Ars Technica compared it to the hardware equivalent of a troll's "First!" comment on a message board: a meaningless interjection that adds nothing.

If early indications are anything to go by, Apple's hotly-anticipated iWatch will be nothing like the Gear. Reports are coming in that the upcoming iWatch will be a fully-integrated model, designed as a portal for the expanding market of home automation.

Rather than the narrow scope of the Gear, analysts predict that the iWatch will allow users to control their home's thermostat, lights and entertainment system, as well as integrating with safety features like the nascent technology of smart smoke alarms.

Smartwatches have had a rocky start in the market. While the Pebble was met with initial enthusiasm and popularity, allowing users to read their texts, log personal fitness information, and control their music, recent forays into the smartwatch arena have been less quickly adopted.

Sony's Smartwatch 2 was only £100 at release, which made it instantly more attractive to customers in comparison to the Galaxy Gear, which came in at an eye-watering £299. However, lacking a camera, microphone and speaker, it represented a pared-down version of Samsung's still limited device.

Samsung's Galaxy Gear also suffered from compatibility issues. It only worked alongside the Note 3, although the Galaxy S4 was later introduced into the smartwatch fold.

With this handful of disappointing offerings, the industry is increasingly looking to Apple to weigh in on the debate. Speculation is rife that if Apple can pull off a successful smartwatch, the technology may become less of a niche product over the next couple of years.

Still, Apple is taking its time. As a company constantly fixated on design and the necessity of making each new device as fashionable and beautiful as possible, the Cupertino-based company isn't rushing anything.

Image: Yrving Torrealba