Google's First Android Wear 2.0 Smartwatches Arriving Q1 2017 Without Pixel Branding

Are smartwatches going out of style? Google does not think so, and to help prove it to consumers, the Mountain View outfit plans to launch a pair of flagship smartwatch models running its upcoming Android Wear 2.0 platform sometime in the first quarter of next year. The smartwatches will be the first ones to feature the updated platform, according to Jeff Chang, product manager of Android Wear at Google.

Though Google will be making a push to convince consumers that wearables are still relevant, and specifically smartwatches, the two flagship models it has planned will not bear its own branding or carry the Pixel label. Instead, they will sport the manufacturer's branding. Google is not ready to share which company is building the devices, saying only that it is a manufacturer it has worked with in the past.


According to Android Police and the "reliable source" it spoke with, one of the two smartwatches will be larger and sportier than the other and have more features, such as LTE connectivity, GPS, and a heart rate monitor. It will resemble the Moto 360 and LG's Urbane 2nd Edition LTE, though it will not be a carbon copy of either one. The larger model will have visible lugs, a smooth housing shape that curves where the watch meets the body, and a large circular crown button flanked by buttons on either side (three buttons total).

The smaller smartwatch is said to more closely the Pebble Time Round, at least in its basic shape (it won't share the same large screen bezel or button arrangement). It will have a single button that is similar to the crown on the Apple Watch.

After launching the two flagship smartwatches, other models will begin receiving the Android Wear 2.0 update, though not every existing Android Wear device will get upgraded. Android Wear 2.0 will bring about several new features, things such as standalone apps that work without needing a phone, Android Pay support, and Google's voice controlled Assistant.

Google is facing an uphill battle in the smartwatch category, and the company knows it. According to recent data by IDC, smartwatch sales plunged 51 percent in third quarter, dropping from 5.6 million units shipped in the same quarter a year earlier to just 2.7 million units.