Google is reportedly planning to launch two new flagship smartwatches come the first quarter of 2017. Jeff Chang, product manager of Android Wear at Google told The Verge that the new watches will be the flagship Android Wear 2.0 devices. He said both watches will be the first ones to launch with the new platform.
Rumors were making the rounds that Google was working on new smartwatches; but today’s confirmation shows that those stories were indeed true. The upcoming launch, according to the report, is a part of a larger effort to win over consumers that the demand for smartwatches in the market are still very high.
According to Chang, Google will collaborate with a manufacturing company to brand the smartwatches. Declining to name the manufacturer, he however, said that the company had produced Android Wear devices in the past. In terms of collaboration and goals, Chang likened the partnership to Google’s Nexus smartphone program. Consumers should, however, not expect the smartwatches to be branded in either Google or Pixel.
So what happens to existing Android Wear watches? Existing Android Wear watches, according to the report, will get the update to Android Wear 2.0. Of course, some new features will come along with the new platform, including, standalone apps that do not require a phone to work with, support for Google’s voice-controlled Assistant, and support for Android Pay.
Don’t get your hopes too high if you are using older version of existing Android Wear as Google said only the most recent ones will benefit from the upcoming update. Specifically, features such as Android Pay, which requires specific hardware; so not all models will support them.
On the benefits of working in collaboration with several partners on Android Wear, Chang said:
“We’ve enabled a lot of diversity with our hardware partners to target different types of consumers and preferences,” he says, before noting that Google is “quite optimistic” about the prospects of smartwatches. “This is a marathon, not a sprint. This category of product is here with us to stay.”
Apple and Samsung are dominant forces in the fast-growing smartwatch market, but Google has a way of making its presence felt once it’s able to get its acts together. With the launch of its two new flagship smartwatches expected in the first quarter of 2017, things are about to shake up. The consumers of course, are the better for it because there will definitely be more to choose from.