Wearable Tech

Google could be set to release a smartwatch

Android Wear smartwatches

Android Wear smartwatches  (Google)

First a Google phone, now a smartwatch?

In the wake of a successful rollout of the first branded Google phone, the Pixel, the Silicon Valley tech giant may be readying a smartwatch via a partnership with LG.   

A fresh report from tech reporter Evan Blass says the “Nexus-style” partnership will yield the first Android Wear 2.0 device, to be announced February 9. (Nexus phones – which Google has no plans to continue after the release of its Pixel phones in October – were co-branded devices typically created in partnership with Asian phone suppliers such as LG, Huawei, and HTC.)

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The upshot, this will be a LG branded smartwatch with joint
Google marketing, according to Blass. So, closer to the Nexus model, which was marketed by Google but the primary branding was the device maker. 

The report is based on “marketing material” shared with VentureBeat, where Blass works. Google did not respond to a request for comment. 

The rumor was first reported last summer by Android Police.

A smartwatch with cellular connectivity

The circular Android Wear 2.0 watch will reportedly go on sale immediately after the announcement. Watch specs include a larger “flagship” model with a higher-capacity battery, more RAM, GPS, NFC (near-field communication) for Android Pay, heart rate sensor, and cellular connectivity (3G/LTE) built in.

That latter feature would be an important distinction from the Apple Watch Series 2, which relies on the iPhone for cellular connectivity. Watches with cellular connectivity, like the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition and Samsung Gear S3 frontier model, allow you to get email and texts without being tethered to a phone.

LG’s Watch Urbane 2nd Edition -- which has classic wristwatch styling -- has been available from Verizon and AT&T since last year. Verizon’s ad copy states that you can text or call from your watch using your current smartphone number.

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Both of the rumored Google watches, including the lower-end model, have 4GB of storage, OLED displays, water and dust resistance, Apple iOS compatibility, and a digital crown (for navigating features on the watch), like the Apple Watch, according to the report.   

Importantly, the watches come with Google Assistant, a highly-refined intelligent personal assistant that Google introduced on its Pixel phones.

Google’s entry into the market with a smartwatch running Android Wear 2.0, Google's next Android operating system for smartwatches and wearables, could engender another heavyweight brawl with arch-rival Apple, the current smartwatch market leader.

Samsung is ranked No. 3 in the global smartwatch market but uses its own Tizen operating system, not Android Wear.