Amidst Apple iWatch rumors and Google Glass sightings, it would appear that Google is actually working on its own smartwatch to be paired alongside connected Android devices. According to the Financial Times, Google’s Android arm will be the team working on the device, as opposed to the X Lab division, which handled Google Glass development.
The wearable computer market is heating up quite rapidly. Alongside Google’s Glass project, a number of smaller OEMs have launched Bluetooth-connected smart watches to work as a companion to the smartphone.
Fossil has a well-crafted MetaWatch, InPulse has the hot-selling Pebble smartwatch, and there are even a handful of quantified self devices that measure your daily activity. There’s the Nike FuelBand, the Jawbone UP, and the Basis to name a few. Add to that an Apple competitor in the iWatch, and a Samsung smartwatch to boot, and it only makes sense that Google has a watch in the works.
Google Glass takes wearable computing a step beyond the basic wrist watch. However, the rate of adoption will almost certainly be lower than that of a watch or a smartphone since the experience is such a huge change in the way we interact with digital content and our world. A smart watch, on the other hand, would feel a lot more like using a really small smartphone, and that familiarity makes the watch a great bridge between smartphones and computational headsets.
Google didn’t comment on the speculation.
However, there’s a patent owned by Google and filed in 2011 for a “smart watch” with a “flip-up display.” It would appear that the patent also provides for a touchscreen experience.
The question isn’t really if Google will build a smart watch. As small OEMs and big competitors around it flood the market with wearable smartwatches, Google will likely need to join the fight. However, it’s unclear what exactly that will look like? Does a flip-up display look like a flip phone?
From the patent filing, the “flip-up display” seems to work like a digital pocket watch, showing two displays when open and a single display on top when closed.
However, just because Google filed this patent, it doesn’t mean that Google’s Android smartwatch will look anything like it.
On the software side, Google has already proven that it can develop for new forms of computing, such as Google Glass. Even some of its already-released apps like Google Now and Field Trip seem like they would fit in swimmingly with a smart watch. Plus, we can’t forget that the acquisition of Motorola has left Google with a rather sizable hardware team.