Tech giant Google is gearing up to launch Android Wear powered smartwatches in the first quarter of 2017. Product manager for Android Wear at Google, Jeff Chang told The Verge in an interview. These smartwatches will be the flagship for Android Wear 2.0 and will launch with the new version.
The news isn’t a surprise as rumours earlier pointed to Google working on two smartwatches. Chang also mentioned that the new watches won’t bear Google or Pixel branding but will have the branding of the manufacturer making it. This is somewhat similar to the Nexus program that Google was running before axing it for the Google Pixel. Google had done something similar when it launched Android Wear, with LG, Samsung, and Motorola being its launch partners back in 2014.
While Android Wear 2.0 will be exclusive to the new smartwatches, existing Android Wear devices will get an update soon. The new iteration of Android Wear will bring a lot of functionality updates like standalone apps which won’t need a phone to be paired to work, support for Android Pay and Google Assistant.
The Android Wear update will not bring all the features to existing devices. Android Pay, for instance, needs the smartwatch to have NFC. Hence, wearables without NFC won’t be compatible with Android Pay.
Google also confirmed that it will be launching the fifth and final developer preview of Android Wear 2.0 in January. The update will bring the highly sought after, Google Assistant to the wrist. These watches will work with Android and iOS, but there will be slight differences between the two.
The smartwatch segment in India hasn’t picked up as manufacturers expected. The Moto 360 has been one of the most sought after Android Wear device while the Asus Zenwatch 2 is currently the most value for money device. Asus also launched the Zenwatch 3 which will go on sale later this month. The Apple Watch, on the other hand, has managed to sell in respectable numbers. It’ll be interesting to see if the introduction of Wear 2.0 can jumpstart the wearable market.