Adrian Maciburko

Google is reportedly building a smartwatch, too

Another day, another smartwatch rumor. After reports that Apple has a team of engineers building a connected wristwatch and Samsung confirmed its own smartwatch is in the works, Google is now reportedly busy preparing a similar device under its brand.

The Google smartwatch is being developed by the Android unit team, according to a Financial Times report, and not by X Lab, the experimental projects team behind the Google Glass connected eyewear. Google’s smartwatch would act as an extension of Android smartphones, but there’s no indication when such a device might launch.

Lending credence to the rumor is a patent for a smartwatch Google obtained last year. The design includes a processor, wireless transmitter, and a camera that will be used with a flip-up screen to display augmented reality information. The smartwatch would be location-aware and use a combination or the GPS and camera to show users relevant information about their surroundings.

Eyes on the watch

Last month, The New York Times and Bloomberg speculated an Apple smartwatch could go on sale relatively soon, as the company has a team of around 100 engineering sweating over details of a curved glass smartwatch that would have some iPhone and iPad functionality, as well as mobile payments and pedometer capabilities. Apple, as usual, did not confirm the reports.

Samsung, however, was not coy, confirming it is developing a smartwatch. “We’ve been preparing the watch product for so long,” Lee Young Hee, executive vice president of Samsung’s mobile business, told Bloomberg during an interview in Seoul this week. “We are working very hard to get ready for it. We are preparing products for the future, and the watch is definitely one of them.”

Details of Samsung’s connected wristwear are sketchy too, but images that surfaced on a message board indicate the device will be called the Galaxy Altius, with features such as a clock, music player, maps, and an email client, running on a custom version of Android. Samsung’s smartwatch efforts are separate from Google’s, according to the FT report.

With Apple, Samsung, and Google apparently working on connected wearable tech, this year could be the one such devices will become mainstream. Now that most smartphones feature voice controls and wireless technology, we have already seen relatively popular smartwatch examples from the likes of the Kickstarter-founded Pebble, which shipped some 25,000 units so far. However, the greatest challenge for such wearable devices will remain battery life, for both the smartwatch and the smartphone to which it connects. After all, would you want to have to charge your smartwatch every night, along with your smartphone?

Image credit: Android smartwatch concept by Adrian Maciburko

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