Some existing Android Wear devices will also get an upgrade to the new OS
Google is planning to launch two new Android Wear 2.0 smartwatches in the first quarter of 2017, the first devices to be fitted with the updated operating system.
Speaking to The Verge, Jeff Chang – product manager of Android Wear at Google – confirmed the upcoming launch will be part of a wider effort to get consumers interested in smartwatches again after sales dwindled in the second half of 2016.
Chang also revealed that the new devices will be branded by the manufacturer – which he declined to name but said the company has experience making Android Wear devices – so won’t feature any Google or Pixel branding.
The final developer version of Android Wear 2.0 will be released in January and introduces a number of new features, including Android Pay support, integration with Google’s voice-controlled Assistant and standalone apps that don’t need a phone nearby in order to work.
Several existing Android Wear watches will be upgraded to the new platform after the two new devices have been launched. These include: the Moto 360 Sport, LG Watch Urbane, Huawei Watch, Asus ZenWatch 3 and the Polar M600. Unfortunately for consumers, not every existing Android Wear watch will get the upgrade as certain new features require specific hardware that is not a current requirement for Android Wear partners.
Despite disappointing sales over the last few months, the smartwatch market is still expected to be a significant one. Garnet predicted that smartwatch sales will reach 322 million by the end of 2017, a significant increase from the 275 million sales predicted in 2016.
In comparison, the wearables market has shown no signs of slowing down over the last 12 months, as fitness bands have continued to outsell smartwatches. Garmin and Fitbit in particular have shown strong growth, with the latter recently acquiring a range of assets from Kickstarter-funded wearables firm Pebble to bolster its position in the market.
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