Google’s Smartwatch

Google Watch Design

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Apparently, Angelfish is the larger watch on the left, and has a bigger display, button and lugs compared to its sibling. The other watch is Swordfish, and appears to be significantly smaller than Angelfish. It also has a cleaner, more minimalist design and a much thinner strap. And on the matter of straps, Android Police reckons that Google’s MODE Android Wear won’t work with Angelfish.

Regarding dimensions, Android Police puts the Angelfish at 14mm thick, with a case diameter of 43.5mm – that’s smaller than the largest Moto 360 (46mm), but bigger than the largest Apple Watch (42mm). The Swordfish, meanwhile, has a more traditional 42mm diameter, and is purported to be 10.6mm thick – that’s 0.8mm than the Moto 360.

So far, we’ve only heard that Angelfish will ship in a dark matte grey colour called “Titanium”. Meanwhile, Swordfish is expected to debut in three different colours: silver, titanium and rose gold.

The final interesting titbit is that neither of the watches appears to suffer from a “flat tyre” on the display. That’s good news, as the dead pixel space that featured on the Moto 360 was highly controversial, and initially blighted all hopes of having an attractive, round-faced smartwatch. Thankfully, Google hasn’t made the same mistake.

Unfortunately, we should point out that these images aren’t entirely authentic. To protect its source, Android Police had to recreate the source material, which means the devices depicted may not be entirely accurate.

It’s also worth mentioning that these watch designs were from an early prototype stage, so there’s every chance that one, or both, of the watches may look completely different – and possibly may never even launch.

GOOGLE  WATCH SPECIFICATION: SNAPDRAGON

According to Android Police, Angelfish will be a “full-on” standalone smartwatch. That’s because it features more capable hardware, including a 4G/LTE modem, GPS, and a heart-rate sensor. And Swordfish, by comparison, will miss out on some (or maybe all) of those features.

There’s little else we know for certain, but we can take a guess and say that the Google Pixel Watch will probably feature one of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear chips. After all, Google Pixel has shown no reluctance towards using Qualcomm chips in its smartphones, including the new Google Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, both of which featured the top-end Snapdragon 821 system-on-a-chip (SoC).

Right now, Qualcomm has two different Snapdragon chips for wearables. Back in February, the company launched the Snapdragon Wear range with the Snapdragon Wear 2100. It’s already featured in a couple of devices, including the Asus ZenWatch 3 and Fossil’s new Q smartwatches.

Then, in May, Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon Wear 1100, which features a Cat.1 modem, plus support for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and audio input. There’s also built-in iZat location tech that will let a wearable work out position, velocity and time.

The Snapdragon Wear 1100 is generally seen as a fitness tracker solution, while the Snapdragon Wear 2100 is a bit more advanced, and could show up in smartwatches and other, more complex wearable devices.

For the record, both chips are built on a 28nm process and support 4G connections. But while the SW1100 only supports a simple 2D user interface, the SW2100 can handle displays with a resolution of up to 640 x 480 pixels at 60 frames per second. The SW2100 also supports faster LPDDR3 RAM (compared to the SW1100’s LPDDR2), and features four Cortex-A7 cores and an Adreno 304 GPU (with support for OpenGL ES 3.0). By contrast, the SW100 has a single Cortex-A7 core and a fixed-function GPU.

If the Google Pixel Watch exists, we’d expect it to run on the Snapdragon Wear 2100. However, there’s a very good chance that Qualcomm could announce a new Snapdragon Wear chip this year. Stay tuned.

We also shouldn’t count out Samsung. The South Korean giant’s chip-making arm recently began mass-producing the new Exynos 7 Dual 7270, a processor built for wearables. Samsung says that the new chip will let device makers build “ultra-slim” smartwatches, and confirmed that the chip supports 4G/LTE connections. Perhaps most excitingly, the Exynos 7270 is built using Samsung’s 14nm FinFET manufacturing process, which means it could be significantly less power hungry, and potentially more powerful than the Snapdragon Wear 2100.

GOOGLE PIXEL WATCH SOFTWARE: ANDROID WEAR 2.0

As we mentioned earlier, Blass and Android Police both expect the Google Pixel Watch to run on Google’s upcoming Android Wear 2.0. The original Android Wear software launched way back in March 2014, but the smartwatch market has come a long way since then.

At Google I/O 2016, Google announced Android Wear 2.0, introducing new features such as standalone apps, handwriting recognition, a keyboard, a dark background for OLED watch displays (to save battery) and a new circular UI. The software is only available in preview right now, and only supports a handful of watches. It’s expected that the full version will go live to consumers this year.

According to Android Police, the Angelfish smartwatch will support standalone apps (courtesy of Android Wear 2.0) i.e. it won’t need a nearby smartphone to provide processing power for software, unlike the original iteration of the Apple Watch. It’s not clear whether the Swordfish smartwatch will be similarly capable.

Android Police also reckons that the new watch(es) will be Google Assistant enabled. That’s Google’s virtual assistant, an extension of Google Now that allows for two-way conversation, just like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Microsoft’s Cortana. Google Assistant is already available via the Google Allo messenger app or the Google Home smart speaker, if you want to try it out.

And finally, Google has informed developers that they should have their apps ready for the new OS by “early February 2017”, which suggests that a full consumer launch of the software may be imminent.

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