Smartwatches have yet to really catch on, but Google is aiming to fix that with newfound interest in the area. The search giant will produce two flagship wearables during the first quarter of next year according to a report from the Verge.
Citing Android Wear product manager Jeff Chang, the report indicates Google will be dropping two in-house made smartwatches powered by the company’s new Android Wear 2.0 operating system. The long-rumored devices will be the first smartwatches to make use of the platform.The devices won’t bear the Google name, nor will the use the Pixel branding that appeared on the company’s latest smartphone. Instead, the devices will be branded with the name of the company that is manufacturing the devices. Chang didn’t disclose the manufacturer, but noted the company has had Android Wear devices in the past.
While the two Google-designed devices will be the first built for Android Wear 2.0, previous wearables will start getting an update to the latest version of the operating system after the new devices drop.
The upgraded platform will add several new features to the wearables, including Google’s voice-powered assistant, support for Android Pay and standalone apps that don’t require a connected device—though only models with compatible hardware will be able to make use of all of these upgrades.
Google’s expansion into the smartwatch territory is expected to continue, with more collaborators and companies building Android Wear 2.0 devices likely to be announced at CES and other trade shows throughout 2017.
Despite Google’s apparent interest in wearable devices, other manufacturers seem more tepid about continuing in the field. LG, Huawei and Motorola all opted not to launch a new Android Wear device during the back half of 2016, and Motorola appears entirely disinterested in launching a new watch with Android Wear 2.0 in 2017.
Smartwatch interest has generally been low from consumers as well. According to a report from the International Data Corporation (IDC), smartwatch purchases dropped 51 percent in the third quarter of 2016 compared to the same timeframe in 2015. IDC also found in another report Android Wear operating system owned just 15 percent of the market compared to Apple’s WatchOS holding 61 percent of all smartwatches.