Smartwatches may not be massively popular devices, but Google isn’t giving up on them just yet. In fact, the company is working with a manufacturer to launch two new smartwatches in 2017.
Up until now, Google’s smartwatch strategy has been to develop Android Wear software and work with watch makers to get it on as many third-party devices as possible.
But we’ve been hearing rumors that Google was working on its own smartwatch hardware for months. It turns out that’s not exactly what’s happening. Instead, Google is working with an unnamed manufacturer to build the first two watches that will ship with Android Wear 2.0 software.
The Verge spoke with Google’s Android Wear product manager, who says the new watches are a collaboration between Google and a hardware maker, much like the company’s Nexus smartphones were… until Google dropped the Nexus line and started making its own Pixel phones.
Two key new features coming to Android Wear 2.0 are support for Google Assistant and Android Pay.
You don’t necessarily need one of the new watches to get Android Wear 2.0 though. The software update will be rolling out to a number of current Android Wear watches including the Huawei Watch,. LG G Watch Urbane, 2nd-gen Moto 360, and Asus ZenWatch 2 and 3… although not all new features will be available on every one of those watches, due to hardware requirements.
Google isn’t the only company still betting on smartwatches. Apple CEO Tim Cook claims the Apple Watch saw record sales at the start of the holiday season, and Samsung continues to push its own smartwatch platform with the Gear S line of watches running Tizen-based software.