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image of the nano watch

Is the Google Smartwatch next in line?

Is this the time of the smartwatch? Apple, Samsung and now Google seems to think so. Word on the street is that Google is developing a smartwatch via its Android division, says the Financial Times.

Steven Norris: grumpy curmudgeon
Steven Norris is a born writer, living in Tamboerskloof, Cape Town and educated in the ways of graphic design but destined to follow in the footsteps of... More

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Here’s the skinny: Google went ahead and filed a smartwatch patent in 2011. The documents detail an “interactive user experience” plus a “dual flip-up screen” setup. This was two years ago. Meanwhile, Samsung has announced its plans to develop a version of the smartwatch possibly to get a head start on everyone else.

Wearable technology is huge, it’s the “next big thing” that snuck up on us with nary a realisation. Apple heralded the smartwatch concept early though, with the introduction of a wrist-strap for it’s hipster friendly iPod Nano’s.

image of the nano watch
One of the first, and popular smartwatches

More Google smartwatch info: mind-bending projects such as Google Glass are being developed in the “X Lab” division, while the Android unit tinkers away on the smartwatch, which is seen as an “extension of current smartphones”. Concurrently, the watch may only operate correctly when it is paired with an Android device. Kind of like the old PlayBook and BlackBerry relationship, where one device would not function correctly without the other. With a Google smartwatch being reliant on an Android device for full functionality, the casual smartwatch buyer may be crippled by indecision. Grab a competing product that operates as a self-reliant unit, or snap up the (most likely) cheaper Google smartwatch and suffer if we happen to own an iPhone or BlackBerry.

Opening the doors

An Android smartwatch opens up a whole new bag of possibilities, but we’re specifically thinking about Google Now, arguably the best mobile app ever developed. Google Now is a software predictor which plans our lives after it wines and dines us. Google Now tells you how long it takes to get home, the score of your favorite sport and actually understands your search habits, given enough time. Built into a wearable screen, Google Now could become the most important software of all time. Yes.

Wireless technology has practically reached a speed saturation point now, with Bluetooth 3.0 at a healthy 24MB per second transfer rate. For the sake of a smartwatch, this is more than enough. A smartwatch won’t be for watching HD films, it’ll be for quickly checking texts, listening to music and voice dialing. Anything more and we begin to push the limits of wearable functionality. Let’s not even go into battery life. It’s a watch for goodness sakes, it needs to last weeks without a recharge. If the Google smartwatch, or any wearable device for that matter doesn’t at least have a battery life of ten days or more, issues will arise.

Overcomplicating an admittedly simple device is the beggining of the end. But it’s too early to speculate as we’re currently waiting for at least one smartwatch to hit the market. And our best guess is that Samsung will be first, Apple second (“we perfected it”) and Google last when the smoke clears.

Finally, the source of the story, a “person briefed on the project” indicates that there is no launch date for the Google smartwatch. We’ll be waiting patiently for the next update.

Image: Nano via Ubergizmo.com