Google Smartwatch Expected With KitKat OS Upgrade - InformationWeek

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Google Smartwatch Expected With KitKat OS Upgrade

Google's forthcoming Android update may find a home beyond phones, tablets and TVs.

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Google is reportedly preparing to introduce an Android-powered smartwatch in conjunction with launch of the next version of its Android operating system, dubbed "KitKat."

Earlier this month, Android Police's Artem Russakovskii said Google's rumored smartwatch, codenamed "Gem," had yet to be confirmed. On Monday, Seth Weintraub at 9to5Google said he'd heard about a Google smartwatch from another source.

Google did not respond to a request for comment, but there's reason to regard these reports as likely. Google last year quietly acquired smartwatch maker WIMM Labs. Also, Google has a smartwatch patent. There's clearly interest in smartwatch technology within the company.

[ How does Sony's new smartwatch stack up against Samsung's Galaxy Gear? See Sony Challenges Samsung With SmartWatch 2. ]

What's more, Samsung and Sony are both selling Android-powered smartwatches, and similar devices are expected from Apple, Dell and Microsoft. And that's not to mention smaller companies like Pebble that hope to make it big with smartwatches.

A Google smartwatch appears to be inevitable.

Android 4.4 KitKat remains largely an unknown quantity, though Google hints at broader device compatibility in its KitKat teaser: "It's our goal with Android KitKat to make an amazing Android experience available for everybody," the company's website states. The search ads that currently show up for the query "Android KitKat" insist the update is coming soon.

Google revealed one upcoming change in KitKat through a post on its Android Developers Blog on Monday. In Android 4.4, developers will gain official API support for creating SMS apps and will be able to offer Android device users the ability to select their default SMS app. Previously, Android developers who built SMS apps did so by relying on APIs that had not been made public. The post indicates that Google will soon provide the SDK components necessary to test SMS apps adapted to Android 4.4.

Android 4.4 is also expected to introduce a new app launcher called Google Experience that brings interface changes and integrates Google Now, the company's predictive search assistant. The goal may be to provide some cross-platform design consistency with the Chrome app launcher introduced last month.

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