Following the rebranding of Android Wear earlier this year, it seemed Google was set on giving smartwatches another shot. But its annual developer conference, I/O, kicked off with little announced for the platform. Aside from improving its digital assistant on Wear OS, Google didn’t do anything with the user interface or features.
Qualcomm says there are a few new smartwatches launching later this year, though. The company told Warable that it’s developing an upgraded processor that’ll be inside products shipping in the fall.
Closer to the holidays when shopping rises significantly, Qualcomm revealed there will be a flagship smartwatch on the market. The brand behind it, however, wasn’t clarified. It could be Google, but more likely it’s LG with a smartwatch that resembles a traditional timepiece.
Wear OS won’t depend on just one product. Several partners are apparently preparing to release smartwatches when Qualcomm’s latest chip is official. Many of the smartwatches could come from fashion brands, but Google desperately needs technology brands to become involved in the platform again.
The new processor should enable partners to pick and choose their additional features. While the Snapdragon 400 and Snapdragon 2100 were made primarily for mobile devices, what’s in development is made specifically for wearables. Partners can opt for GPS or LTE with fewer issues, but Bluetooth and Wi-Fi will remain standard.
Battery life, meanwhile, should get a hefty boost since the processor is built for Wear OS only.
Google still needs to show us how Wear OS is different from Android Wear beyond its name, so maybe that’ll happen over summer or coincide with Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon debuting. The platform needs to be overhauled with customization similar to Android on phones and tablets. Until that happens, Wear OS will continue being the same across every smartwatch.
Assuming things remain on schedule for Qualcomm, there could be a big announcement made at IFA 2018 or shortly after. Wear OS could then be rebooted around October when the Mountain View-based company holds its hardware-focused event, introducing us to a Google-branded smartwatch.