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MetaWatch adds Bluetooth 4.0 support, iPhone compatibility in latest developer kit for $199

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MetaWatch Bluetooth 4.0
MetaWatch Bluetooth 4.0

Bolstered by the success of Pebble's Kickstarter campaign, it's starting to look like 2012 could finally be the year of the mainstream smartwatch — and the advent of Bluetooth 4.0 will likely be key to that success. Fossil spinoff MetaWatch debuted its Bluetooth 2.1-compatible digital and analog smartwatch developer kits last year, but the company is back today with a refreshed Bluetooth 4.0 version (in a digital model only this time) for the same $199 as the original.

Bluetooth 4.0 is critical because it incorporates Bluetooth Low Energy, a standard that consumes considerably less power to maintain a connection than other flavors of the protocol — and for a wristwatch, low power consumption and long battery life are particularly important. MetaWatch's latest model is also touting iPhone 4S support via BLE; previously, the platform only connected to Android devices in its Bluetooth 2.1 days.

The new model is available in traditional black and a new white version for $199, but beware — as before, the watch is being geared specifically at developers and tinkerers, and it could be a while yet before it's got the stability and feature set to appeal to a wider market.