Google set for renewed smartwatch push - Mobile World Live

Google set for renewed smartwatch push

26 JUN 2018

Speculation about Google’s mooted Google Pixel smartwatch picked up pace, as the search giant looks set to redouble its efforts in the nascent wearables market later this year.

Google’s Android Wear/Wear OS efforts to date have relied on hardware from third parties, and it picked up support from a number of top-tier players from the mobile device industry (including Huawei and LG) and from fashion/watches (Fossil and Tag Heuer, for example).

However, as with its Pixel smartphones (and previous Nexus devices), it is now reported to be planning a watch in-house, which is likely to demonstrate the potential of the platform. It will debut alongside the next-generation Pixel smartphones and Pixel Buds earphones later this year.

Previous reports suggested Google is working with Qualcomm on several devices, possibly including different sizes, with and without LTE connectivity. Mooted features include GPS, voice (via VoLTE) and heart rate sensing with the ability to detect stress.

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi will be standard. NFC, to enable mobile payments, is also a possibility.

Wearable reported Pankaj Kedia, Qualcomm’s wearable head, said the company’s next-generation silicon is “designed from the ground-up for a no compromises smartwatch experience with dedicated chips that make your watch look pretty when you’re not looking at it, that bring the best fitness and watch experience, and extend battery life”.

Indeed, battery life is an important feature for next-generation smartwatches. The challenge is devices manage background functions, where there is a trade-off between enabling apps to function and shutting-off power-hungry software.

Potential features
Of course, Qualcomm will not only offer its chips to Google for a Pixel Watch, but it would certainly make sense for the chip company to work with Google to offer a halo product, showcasing the features available using next-generation hardware.

A Pixel watch platform is likely to see Google Assistant positioned front-and-centre, possibly with the addition of always-on listening. The ability to control other connected devices, voice output (via speakers or Bluetooth headphones) and on-screen contextual follow-up suggestions are among the mooted features.

Improved fitness functions – a key use case for wearables – are also mooted. These could include automatic awareness of recent workouts, suggested workouts and other insights derived from wearable devices.

CNET also suggested Google may be able to win Samsung back to the Android wearable fold, after the South Korean vendor switched to its own Tizen platform some time ago.

4G kids smartwatch chip
This week, Qualcomm announced its Snapdragon Wear 2500 platform, which targets the “4G connected kids watch” market.

It is said to offer a “robust foundation with extended battery life, an integrated sensor hub with pre-optimised algorithms, low-power location tracking, and the company’s fifth-generation 4G LTE modem”.

According to the vendor there are “more than 10” 4G kids watches available commercially now using Snapdragon Wear 2100.

Anthony Murray, GM of voice & music and wearables at Qualcomm, said: “With this next generation Snapdragon Wear 2500 platform, we are supporting new performance and features that customers will be able to use to create even more fun features and compelling use cases for these connected 4G kid watches and with our dedicated kid watch platform we aim to deliver a robust foundation that supports a rich and engaging experience for children.”

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Steve Costello

Steve works across all of Mobile World Live’s channels and played a lead role in the launch and ongoing success of our apps and devices services. He has been a journalist...More

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