Google shapes development of two new smartwatches for early 2017

The smartwatch market is in a state of flux, but that's not stopping Google. The company is involved in the development of two flagship smartwatches in the first quarter of 2017, said Android Wear Product Manager Jeff Chang, in an interview with The Verge. These new devices will be the first to receive the Android Wear 2.0 operating system and the new features that come along with it.

New features coming to these watches include standalone apps that don't require a companion phone, and support for Google Assistant and Android Pay. Once the new watches roll out, Android Wear 2.0 will start making its way to most other Android Wear watches, though it's likely that older devices may not be eligible. Meanwhile, Android Pay requires that the watch has an NFC chip, but will work both Android handsets and iPhones, Chang confirmed.

According to Chang, these new devices won't be Google- or Pixel-branded, but will rather carry the logo of the manufacturer Google is working with. Google isn't ready yet to reveal with whom it has partnered, but did say that that the manufacturer has released Android Wear devices in the past. Along with these devices, Chang also said that we can look forward to more Android Wear 2.0 watches in 2017.

Sales of the Apple Watch, by far the most popular brand in the category, fell along with the rest of the market in 2016's third quarter. Kickstarter darling Pebble sold much of its intellectual property to fitness tracker company Fitbit just weeks ago. If Fitbit decides to push into the smartwatch category with its already-dominant brand, that could leave even less room for the Android Wear brand than it already has in Apple's shadow. Meanwhile, Lenovo-owned Motorola is stepping away from the smartwatch market for the time being, while Samsung is focusing on its home-grown Tizen OS.

Despite that, Chang is optimistic. "We've enabled a lot of diversity with our hardware partners to target different types of consumers and preferences," Chang said, adding that "this is a marathon, not a sprint. This category of product is here with us to stay."

Comments closed
    • christos_thski
    • 3 years ago

    I bought a Pebble, it was fine -though a bit underwhelming, I expected much more from the online community, but the apps were nothing to write home about- …. still, it had great battery life and did its part with notifications. Pebble shot that down very ungracefully when they sold their company to fitbit, with all that unpleasantness about not honoring existing warranties, not guaranteeing continuing functionality nor replacement parts etc…

    That left a bad taste in my mouth, though I managed to get a refund (not from pebble or their new owner, mind you)

    The rest of the smartwatches…. (all of them suffering from bad battery life)

    Well, there’s apple watch, which would tie in well with my smartphone ecosystem (I’ve got an iphone). Only the price is ridiculous, a good way towards getting an actual new iphone, and apple seems more inclined to kill off a product line rather than stoop to pricing it rationally

    Then there’s the tizen Samsung S2, which is by far the prettiest smartwatch I’ve come across, and I even like the crown control better. But it’s made by Samsung, a completely unreliable manufacturer who puts out shite for software. They’ve already shown their hand with promising “ios support next month” each and every month now for… a whole year

    And then there is the multitude of Android Gear watches, most of which are butt ugly, and those that are not… cost similarly to an apple watch..

    I used to be ENTHUSIASTIC about smartwatches (yeah… I’m that guy..hardly a majority among techies) and even I now think that they’re more trouble than they’re worth in each and every way. They’re just crap. Overpriced crap, at that.

    At this point in time I might have compromised with a bog standard traditional watch that simply… vibrates upon certain notifications and has better battery life…

    But the whole smartwatch hoolapallooja is one trend that I’ve gone from “wow that’s cool” to “waste of cash”. And I find that sentiment among many more friends of mine who were initially positive. Seeing how most techies were never that enamored with the idea to begin with, that bodes very badly for smartwatches.

    I wouldn’t spend more than 150 bucks for the absolute TOP smartwatch nowadays (ie an apple watch 2). Seeing how that’s not going to happen, it’s back to traditional timekeeping for me. I think Apple , Samsung and Google have really screwed the pooch on this…

    • Alexko
    • 3 years ago

    I don’t think smartwatches can make much sense until they get large, flexible displays that wrap around your wrist, so that you can actually do something with them.

    In the meantime, if I were Google, I’d keep refining the software and hardware, and coming up with new products, just to be ready when those displays are.

      • liquidsquid
      • 3 years ago

      For me, it is all about battery life. Inwont be interested until they last a week or more. I am surprised using ePaper like the Kindle isn’t in wide use for this application.

    • albundy
    • 3 years ago

    Earlier this year I’d figure I’d try one out, so I got a cheap LG G smartwatch used but in excellent condition for $30 on fleabay. from what i’ve experienced, Androidwear drains battery like there’s no tomorrow. It needs charging twice a day with coms on, and from what I’ve read, the newer models did not improve battery life. For me, its just a toy. Its fun, but very tedious to keep charging it.

    I loaded mine up with 2.5GB of music (they only give you 4GB of storage, and the OS takes up over 1GB of that. I have 2 apps on it, a 3rd party music player (google music forced me to buy my songs again if i wanted them synced to the watch, so I lol’ed and went with WearMedia) and a calc.

    AndroidWear wishlist:
    -Need USB 3.x Drive Mounting capabilities -BT transfer rates suck! it gets even worse if you have a camera mounted on your watch.
    -Needs much MUCH better battery life. Samsungs Tizen destroys it in this area.
    -Needs BT audio range adjustments. Not being able to stay consistently connected to BT earphones/headphones 2ft away is unacceptable.
    -larger storage capacities. 4GB doesnt cut it.

    • VincentHanna
    • 3 years ago

    This Xmas, I almost pulled the trigger on a smart watch for myself, but I couldn’t find what I wanted, even in the hand-crafted swiss made price levels.

    I don’t think that this is something that google can fix without producing an actual “pixel” watch… And even if they did, it would likely just be a fitbit clone with a better camera.

    • jihadjoe
    • 3 years ago

    I killed my Moto360’s battery by leaving it on the charging pod too long. Basically overnight on my desk while I sleep.

    I thought it would be smart enough to stop charging itself when full like a phone on a cable does, turns out that wasn’t the case.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 3 years ago

      Wow. Did Moto tell you that was normal? Seems like a defective product.

        • Gyromancer
        • 3 years ago

        That’s what I’m thinking. I leave mine on the charger overnight every single night, but nothing wrong with the battery. It can still go through two days without a charge if I don’t use it a ton.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 3 years ago

          I can’t come up with when they’d want you to charge it otherwise. Perhaps while you’re awake and when you’d want to be otherwise wearing it? Totally broken.

        • jihadjoe
        • 3 years ago

        Sorry if that was confusing, but not exactly a one charge and done, broken. It was broken over the course of doing this for a while.

        The first sign the something might be off was how hot the watch was to touch, even after it had been sitting at 100% for a while. I take it to mean it was continually charging even after topping up the battery.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 3 years ago

          even being “hot” to the touch sounds like a dumb device that’s either defective or poorly designed.

    • ronch
    • 3 years ago

    As someone who appreciates a good watch I just can’t take these smart watches seriously.

    Let gadgets be gadgets and let timepieces be timepieces.

      • EndlessWaves
      • 3 years ago

      Nobody seems to be doing decent non-smart digital watches either.

      You’ve got Ventura at snooty prices, the neat but flimsy Asian stuff like Sony’s FES and Tokyoflash and the promising but ultimately vapourware projects like the CST-01.

      Most of the solid but sensibly priced digital watches are rather old fashioned, featuring bezels thicker than the height of the font, or lots of unnecessary lines or little windows.

      Although I’m glad Timex made a WS4 successor that drops some of the more serious features (barometer, thermometer) in exchange for a lower price. If they make a non-rugged version with a thinner case and less room between the LCD and glass that could be a seriously attractive watch.

        • VincentHanna
        • 3 years ago

        If all you want is a nice digital watch, many of these smart watches on the market fit the bill, I’d say. As they say, it’s like taking a ferrari to the grocery store… but as I say, who cares! If you want to drive your ferarri to the grocery store, you do that.

        The watch-face itself is generally completely customizable, so all you’d be looking at is the aesthetics of the bands (which are generally also replaceable with 3rd party accessories.)

        So, in order from most expensive to least, have a gander at the
        [url=http://cdn.blessthisstuff.com/imagens/stuff/garmin-fenix-3-5.jpg<]Garmin Fenix 3[/url<] [url=https://cnet3.cbsistatic.com/img/zPgkEWTXOyBeBiCWxbqA_UZCPjk=/770x433/2015/10/28/d1f080d7-81d4-4cd1-be79-64f41cd5b702/microsoft-band-2015-03.jpg<] The Microsoft band 2 [/url<] [url=https://i.ytimg.com/vi/8jVqf4BrxZw/maxresdefault.jpg<] Any of the Fitbits [/url<] Each of these seems to meet the basic criteria of 1) being stylish, 2) Being digital, 3) Having a thin face with a glass/sapphire front... and most can go for a month on a single charge with the GPS and wifi stuff all disabled. Me, I'm happy with a $30 POS watch and a velcro watch band, so the value proposition is a little different.

      • CuttinHobo
      • 3 years ago

      But we get the opportunity to charge these things every couple days. Let’s see your Tag Heuer do THAT!

        • bhtooefr
        • 3 years ago

        Tag Heuer’s done an x86-based Android Wear smartwatch…

      • Laykun
      • 3 years ago

      That’s a very narrow point of view. I love my smart watch, it makes a great every day tool. There’s no reason something strapped to your wrist must be a time piece, and as a smart watch owner I just can’t take regular watches seriously due to their hobbled nature/lack of utility, they just seem to be designed to exist in a market fueled by pretentiousness and premium prices.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 3 years ago

    [quote<]These new devices will be the first to receive the Android Wear 2.0 operating system and the new features that come along with it.[/quote<] Congratulations, Google. You've already wasted the wearable market. For smart watches to catch on in huge quantities you need to rope in early adopters. Early adopters don't want left behind on features. That means everything needs to get updated at once. So good work, dumbasses.

      • ColeLT1
      • 3 years ago

      Congratulations, Google, you played yourself.

    • Neutronbeam
    • 3 years ago

    I think the smartwatch market is wearing thin.

      • CuttinHobo
      • 3 years ago

      Watch out – Neutronbeam is armed with wordplay and isn’t afraid to use it!

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