The Apple Watch is, in essence, a teeny smartphone you strap onto your arm. As such, it’s possible to run programs on it like any other device armed with RAM, a processor, and a hard drive. One enterprising hacker going by the name Comex has set his sights on the Apple Watch and loaded it up with a web browser—and the results, as expected, aren’t exactly heartening.
The problem, of course, is that despite being a small computer, there’s something like a minimum threshold for a useable touchscreen. The Apple Watch is just too darned small to accommodate using thumbs or fingers to navigate the web.
Android Wear users can also browse the web, and no hacks are needed. The problem is the same, though, since most Android Wear devices’ screens are too small to use very well. Meanwhile, the Samsung Gear S, which is a bigger device in general and has its own SIM card, has an optimized web browser from Opera that runs on its Tizen operating system. I can’t say for sure whether or not browsing the web on a Gear S is any better than on any other wearable (I have my doubts), but having a browser that’s tailor made to the small display has got to help.
The real upshot of the Apple Watch browser, however, isn’t that users can browse the web, but rather that someone managed to hack the device to make it do his bidding. “This could be the firs step towards a ‘jailbreak’ of the Apple Watch,” explains a 9to5Mac post on the story, “although Comex makes no such promises to ever release the details of his hack.”
It was only a matter of time before someone started monkeying around with the Apple Watch. The real question will be whether or not someone finds a practical and helpful application for hacking into the wearable. For now, merely loading a less-than-functional web browser is nice, but it’s not really anything anybody’s going to run out and want to do on their own.