Google releasing two Android Wear devices in coming months

23 Dec 2016

Image: boonchoke/Shutterstock

Google’s decision to hold back its Android Wear 2.0 device until 2017 means that two devices will get released in the next few months, according to the company.

The wearables market is a little confusing. It exploded onto the scene with Fitbit trackers, offering all the basics like heart, sleep and step monitoring upon its release a few years ago.

Since then, little has changed. Various companies have tried to drag the industry along, with Apple showing the strongest intent to add more bells and whistles to the standard wrist wearable.

However, stagnation is a look that the industry can’t quite shake at the moment, especially after Pebble was snapped up by Fitbit for just $40m earlier this year.

Google, though, thinks there’s still room to grow. Jeff Chang, product manager of Android Wear at Google, told The Verge that two devices will be released in the first few months of 2017.

According to the report, the new models will not have Google or Pixel branding, but will be branded by the company that is manufacturing them.

The manufacturer has not been named, though the relationship is likened to Google’s Nexus smartphone programme.

The new 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.

Apple shipped 1.1m units in Q3 2016, a drop of 2.8m devices, as its market share went from 17.5pc down to less than 5pc. While fitness wearables rise gradually, smartwatches fall fast.

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

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic