Google is reportedly developing two new Android smartwatches with integrated Google Assistant services that would be sold under Nexus nameplates sometime after the company’s latest upcoming smartphones are released.
The rumors, which came from a source who is familiar with the development work, were reported July 6 by AndroidPolice and described a larger, sportier and feature-filled watch with LTE, GPS and heart rate capabilities and a smaller version that leaves out GPS and LTE services. Both devices reportedly have round displays.
Both watches will include integrated support for Google Assistant and its contextual alerts, though few specific details were available, the report continued.
Presently, smartwatches that run on Google’s Android Wear get features and functions desired by the makers of those devices. In creating and building its own smartwatches, Google could have direct control over those capabilities and could custom tailor its products the way it wants to market them to consumers.
The reports are just rumors and could certainly change by the time any such devices are ever released.
In June, reports began circulating that smartphones designed by Google itself could hit the world market by the end of 2016, according to an earlier eWEEK story. Such a development would give the company more control and oversight of its hugely popular Android mobile operating system and help it take on Apple more directly in the smartphone wars. The reports were based on a June 26 story by The (London) Telegraph, which reported that Google will be more firmly moving into the hardware race.
Google has offered Android handsets in the past through arrangements with manufacturers such as HTC, Huawei and others, but those handsets were designed by those companies and carried Google Nexus nameplates, without Google’s own designs. Google has not previously designed and built its own phones.
Android smartphones continued to gain market share in the first quarter of 2016 in the United States, five key European countries and China, compared with a year ago, according to a May report by analyst firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. The figures showed Android phones holding 65.5 percent of the U.S. market in the first quarter, up from 58.1 percent a year prior. Apple iOS smartphones made up 31.6 percent of the market in the first quarter, down from 36.5 percent a year prior. Windows phones captured 2.7 percent of the market in the first quarter, down from 4.3 percent in 2015.
By Google having its own hardware lines in the marketplace, the company would be able to better control its Android software, its Google search engine and its Google Play app store.
Google is working on related projects at the same time, including its planned Project Ara modular smartphones, which are likely to be released sometime in 2017, according to a May eWEEK story. The customizable smartphones will feature swappable modules for different functions, such as those that let users add a high-resolution camera or an additional speaker to their phones. Google began work on Project Ara in 2013. The Ara phone will consist of a baseplate or frame with a preintegrated display, CPU, graphics processing unit, sensors and all the functionality of a standard smartphone, as well as slots for six modules.
In March, a Google Nexus handset, the Nexus 5X, debuted as the second phone being sold for use with Google’s Project Fi mobile phone services, which start at $20 a month. The Nexus 5X smartphone is made by LG for use with Google’s Project Fi inexpensive monthly wireless service plans. The Nexus 5X is priced at $349 for a 16GB model or $399 for a 32GB model.
Project Fi came out in April 2014 under what was then an invitation-only system. Project Fi phone services recently opened to all users who buy or provide a compatible Nexus smartphone that will work with the service. So far, the Nexus 6P by Huawei, the new Nexus 5X and the earlier Nexus 6 are the only three smartphones that will work with Project Fi’s network. Users pay $20 per month for cellular access, plus data fees of $10 per GB only for the data that is consumed each month. The monthly access fee also includes unlimited talk and texting, WiFi tethering and international coverage in more than 120 countries.