Google may be developing smartwatches of its own. Following a path similar to that of its Nexus smartphones and tablets, Google is designing two new wearables that probably will be manufactured by an OEM partner, according to reports. They likely won't arrive until the fall.
The two smartwatches are codenamed Angelfish and Swordfish, according to a report from Android Police. Both devices are believed to have circular displays. Citing "a reliable source," Android Police says one of the devices is bigger and sportier, while the other is smaller and less feature-rich. Angelfish is the larger of the two.
Angelfish may look similar to the Moto 360 or LG Urbane 2nd Edition and is quite big at 14mm thick and 43.5mm wide. The wearable will feature GPS and LTE connectivity for tracking workouts and syncing data without a nearby smartphone. Other potential features include a large battery, titanium coloring, and a heart-rate monitor.
Swordfish looks more like the Pebble Time Round, says Android Police, and is smaller at 10.6mm thick and 42mm wide. This wearable loses the LTE and GPS functions, and probably won't feature a heart rate monitor, either. The device will be available in three colors and is expected to be compatible with Google's MODE interchangeable watch bands.
The hardware features of Angelfish and Swordfish are not as interesting as the software features.
Both wearables will ship with Android Wear 2.0, which Google announced at its I/O developer conference in May. Android Wear 2.0 includes the watch face Complications API that can provide data from other apps, such as fitness information. Watch faces will include a greater degree of customization, as will messaging from wearables thanks to voice controls, handwriting recognition, and keyboards. Android Wear 2.0 devices will be able to automatically recognize activities such as running or biking. Perhaps most importantly, the platform adds support for standalone apps that can run independent from a mobile phone.
All Android Wear devices will have access to these functions, but Google's wearables will have a little something special: Google Assistant.
Android Police claims both watches will ship with the new Google Assistant on board, with support for Google's always-available voice search tool and contextual alerts. Google is working on a revised version of its Google Now product that will graduate to a more fully formed personal assistant later this year. The Assistant will be available in the Google Home product, but having it available on your wrist is far more valuable as far as I'm concerned.
The idea of Google-designed smartwatches is compelling but leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Google's Nexus-branded smartphones and tablets are popular among Android enthusiasts who value the constantly updated software more than the hardware. Google could hope to appeal to that same crowd with these new wearables. This approach may also show a lack of faith on Google's part in its existing hardware partners. Sales of Android watches haven't set the world on fire yet, and, in fact, still suffer from a general lack of visibility.
Google is expected to show off new Nexus hardware in the fall, most likely in September or October. It's possible Angelfish and Swordfish will be revealed at the same time.Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio