Google will release two new flagship smartwatches in the coming months that will arrive sporting the all-new Android Wear 2.0 operating system. The new watches are being designed and manufactured by an unnamed company outside of Google and will feature support for Android Pay and Google's voice-controlled Assistant.
The final developer preview of Android Wear 2.0 is due for release in January 2017, with the consumer rollout coming shortly thereafter. The updated OS brings a roster of new features to Google's smartwatch platform, including support for standalone devices and apps that work without having to be tethered to a smartphone. Android Wear 2.0 wearables will also be compatible with Google Assistant, the voice-controlled AI that launched on the Google Pixel this year.
Previous reports suggested that Google would launch two flagship smartwatches to mark the debut of Android Wear 2.0 in early 2017. These reports have now been confirmed by Android Wear product manager Jeff Chang, who said in an interview with the Verge that the devices are being manufactured by a company that has produced Android Wear devices in the past.
Chang is reported to have likened the collaboration to that of Google's Nexus programme, in that the devices will come sporting the branding of the manufacturing itself rather than Google's. He indicated that Google's smartwatch push was a long-term effort that would aim to build demand around smartwatches, which have yet to properly take off with consumers.
Android Wear 2.0 will also be coming to existing Google-based smartwatches, although this will mostly be limited to more recent devices and features like Android Pay will only be supported on those that meet certain hardware requirements, namely NFC.
"We've enabled a lot of diversity with our hardware partners to target different types of consumers and preferences," Chang said. "This is a marathon, not a sprint. This category of product is here with us to stay."