Android Wear 2.0 out soon, ahead of two new smartwatch releases

12 Jan 2017

Image: francemora/Shutterstock

Two Google smartwatches are expected in the next couple of months and, with the company releasing Android Wear 2.0 in February, could the industry actually wake up?

Just before Christmas, Google revealed plans for two new smartwatches in the early months of 2017, neither of which would have Google or Pixel branding.

The manufacturer wasn’t named, though the relationship is likened to Google’s Nexus smartphone programme. Now that developers have been tipped off about an imminent Android Wear 2.0 release, things are kicking off.

As reported by Android Police, the notice sent to developers “lists any apps they have that are using the legacy APK installation mechanism”.

The February release of Wear 2.0 will see an on-watch Play Store, which supports stand-alone apps that don’t need a phone companion.

Developers with apps using a legacy embedded APK mechanism have been warned to update their products ASAP.

The releases have the potential to breathe new life into the industry, though smartwatches don’t appear to be the answer.

Although the market has improved year-on-year, up a modest 3pc, Apple – the obvious proponent of smartwatches over trackers – has seen its market share fall through the floorboards.

Despite this, the number of companies showing off their wearable wares at CES this year actually rose.

According to The Irish Times, that doesn’t include only fitness trackers and smartwatches; there are sleep trackers, health-focused wearables and other sensors entering the mix.

“If it moves, the motto appears to be, put a tracker on it. And if it doesn’t move, put a tracker on it to find out why, and what it’s actually doing,” reads the report.

For Google, releasing two products is quite a gamble, considering that Fitbit’s limited fitness tracker remains the dominant form in the market.

“It’s still early days, but we’re already seeing a notable shift in the market,” said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC, last December. “Where smartwatches were once expected to take the lead, basic wearables now reign supreme.”

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic