Google seems to be quite in rush to increase its hardware game. This is great news for smartwatch aficionados, as this means Google is coming out with a new smartwatch with brand new features!
First it was the Pixel, and now reports suggest that Google is silently working on as many as two smartwatches. Much like how third-party OEMs use its wearable platform to launch up to two versions of a smart wearable — take the Moto 360 and Moto 360 Sport for instance — and much like how it itself is in the habit of launching two phones (in one go) Google’s move to launch two smartwatches isn’t very surprising.
What is surprising is how very quickly Google is joining the hardware bandwagon and how it is being so very gung-ho about it. It’s trying to pull an Apple for the first time, and Apple needs to continue pleasing their customers in this ever-competitive market of wearable technology. Of course, Google is yet to make its reported smartwatches official but, at least we know what will definitely be in the store whenever the Pixel watch(es) — or whatever Google decides to call it — comes out.
Android Wear 2.0 — Can it Take on WatchOS?
Google’s Pixel smartwatch will be the harbinger of its freshly-baked rendition of Android Wear, aka version 2.0, and at risk of judging by the book by its cover, the update has lots in store. Heck, the update could bring Apple’s WatchOS to shame, primarily because it would (for the first time) allow iPhone users to buy and use watches based on Wear 2.0.
This is because Wear 2.0 will finally allow for stand-alone apps that can be downloaded, installed, and used on watches based on the OS (through a Multi-APK delivery method) without requiring compulsory tethering with compatible phones. Previous versions of Wear did not support this functionality. This means, most apps wouldn’t require to be installed on an Android phone first for access. Wear 2.0’s stand-alone apps wouldn’t necessarily be mirroring their versions on compatible phones, which also means, users will be able to interact with most of these apps independent of the phone.
In simple terms, no matter which phone you have — Android or iOS — Wear 2.0-based smartwatches would be compatible with it by default. The Watch Series 2, in contradiction, is only compatible with iOS-based devices. The biggest takeaway from Android Wear 2.0, without a doubt, is the fact that watches based on it would invariably be compatible with Apple’s iPhone.
In addition, Android Wear 2.0 will also include a stand-alone Play Store to browse and download apps directly to a watch. If that wasn’t enough, Android Wear 2.0 will be supporting lots and lots of new watch face widgets. Interestingly, Google is also calling them Complications now.
Moreover, Google Assistant would most likely play a crucial role, in some way or the other, considering how Google seems to be giving it lot of mileage this year.
Will Pixel Damage Apple’s Sales?
Google’s new Pixel and Pixel XL phones sound alarm bells for Apple’s iPhone, as also all other OEMs that depend on it for Android OS. This is because, Google joining the (premium) hardware race means its phones will always hold an edge as far as software updates are concerned. Moreover, since Google will be responsible for both hardware and software side of things, its phones (the Pixel and Pixel XL) will be at the end of the day better optimised than phones that include custom third-party skins based on Android.
The same fate awaits the Pixel Watch as well. Now, Google has been relatively slow in pushing out updates for Android Wear, but this could change with Wear 2.0 as its hardware will depend on it. Now that it will be making its own watch, it is only obvious it would want its software to be fine-tuned as well.
The Google smartwatches, codenamed Angelfish and Swordfish, will reportedly be unveiled sometime in Q1 2017. That’s possibly one reason why Google stalled the release of Android Wear 2.0 to early 2017.
Of the two smartwatches, the Angelfish is said to be the bigger and more feature rich version, while the Swordfish will reportedly be the smaller, and more minimalistic version.
The Angelfish would be the high-end rugged smartwatch, with a larger crown button and smaller shoulder buttons above and below it. It’s said to be thicker and chunkier with full-on standalone capabilities including LTE connectivity, GPS, and heart rate sensor.
The Swordfish on the other hand would be the smaller and more affordable offering with support for custom Google Mode Android Wear watch bands. It is said to have only the crown button and come sans LTE, GPS or a heart rate sensor.