In just less than two weeks Google and LG are expected to reveal the two latest smartwatches running on Android Wear, named the LG Watch Sport and the LG Watch Style, which LG reportedly partnered with Google to design and produce. These are said to be the two Google smartwatches that had been rumored for much of last year, and it seems just about time that they finally make their debut as they could help give Android Wear a much needed boost. With a new pair of smartwatches for the Android Wear platform on the way coming from a prominent consumer electronics brand and one of the largest internet companies, are the LG Watch Sport and LG Watch Style just what Android Wear needs?
While there have been a few new smartwatches on Android Wear over the last three to six months, there hasn't really been a steady stream of Android Wear devices in the same capacity there was in 2015. If you think about it, 2015 was where Android Wear really seemed to be shining; it's popularity seemed up, the original Moto 360 was still available from various online retailers, the second Moto 360 was launched, the Huawei Watch was launched, and there were various other models from different manufacturers that were announced and launched as well. It seemed as if Android Wear was at an all time high, then 2016 hit and the year went by without much of a splash. This isn't to say that Android Wear had absolutely no presence at all, but it certainly didn't feel the same as it did one year prior. Now 2017 is here and there are a few newer smartwatch options already available in the Google Store that launched in the later part of last year, and there are others, like CASIO's Pro Trek model that was announced during CES last month, which are coming too, but it still seems that Android Wear has been in a slump for a little while and Google and LG's two new watches just may be able to pull the platform back to its former glory.
This won't all rest on the shoulders of the watches. Some of Android Wear's future success will depend on the platform itself. The Android Wear software version in its current state is by no means terrible, but it would be naive to think that it isn't lacking just a little bit. Luckily Google is intent on changing that and is also gearing up to release Android Wear 2.0 which is rumored to be launching alongside the two new watches from LG. These are also suspected of being the first two watches to run the software. Between the new software which is going to come with a handful of newer features as well as improvements, and the latest Android Wear smartwatches on the market, Android Wear seems like it's due for an upswing. Android Wear may already offer a decent enough experience as is, but it could be better, and that's what Android Wear 2.0 in general should do for the platform. Things like Android Pay will finally be supported making it possible for people to use the mobile payment system to pay for things without having to pull out their phones. Some form of Google Assistant should also be incorporated into the software once version 2.0 hits and that could be an immense improvement. Longer battery life is expected as well, and with the other larger features on the way, Android Wear will certainly start to feel more robust.
Of course none of this matters if the hardware isn't convincing enough for people to consider the platform, and this is where Google and LG have an opportunity. On the inside the LG Watch Sport and the LG Watch Style are fairly close to standard based on the rumors, with specs like 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage seemingly on offer. They're also likely to come powered by the Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor, which will certainly help them run more efficiently and likely a lot smoother as the CPU was designed specifically for wearables. On the outside, both watches will cater to a different group of consumer, and they both look decent and will likely capture the attention of those looking at smartwatches. LG's previous Android Wear watches have also been fairly popular, with the LG Watch R and LG Watch Urbane being two popular options that were well received, so these two new watches could be met with the same excitement once they launch. It's also worth considering that Android Wear may not be the biggest issue with why it hasn't been taking off like many people thought it would. The issue could be more with wearables in general which would make it more challenging for Google and LG to push Android Wear to a point where the majority of consumers pick up a watch. While the smartwatch market declined in Q3 of last year by 51.6% according to a report by IDC, wearables like fitness trackers are also having a little bit of a tough time with things.
Fitbit, the largest and most popular brand in the wearables market, recently confirmed that they missed their goal for the fourth quarter of last year. This doesn't exactly spell doom and gloom for the company in any capacity nor the wearables market, but it does showcase that wearables are still failing to grab the attention of most consumers. That being said, with new devices on the horizon from LG which is one of the largest mobile device brands, there is always a good chance that it could help to uplift the Android Wear platform in just the right way, but it'll have to do so with assistance from Google with the software side of things, because the LG Watch Sport and LG Watch Style could be the best hardware on the planet but people still won't be excited if the software isn't able to convince them that it has a place in their everyday life. If the Android Wear platform is going to excite the consumer, though, Android Wear 2.0 is the software version to do it as it's bringing with it some practical changes, features, and improvements that the software has been lacking.
Choice and affordability are important factors, too, and if the rumors are correct then the LG Watch Style will be on offer for $249, while the LG Watch Sport will be on offer for $349. These aren't exactly the cheapest prices for smartwatches, but they're pretty much on par with what most of the other Android Wear watches cost currently and have cost in the past, as many of them sat around $200-$400 which makes these fit somewhere in the middle. Not only that, but those that don't want to spend as much can simply opt for the LG Watch Style instead of the Sport and still get the same experience. Is Android Wear in any trouble? Maybe, if Google and their partners don't pick things up and find a way to grab the majority of average consumers who have yet to buy wearables, but there is still every opportunity for smartwatches and Android Wear to pick things up and forge on ahead so long as the platform feels more like an extension of a connected device and not a replacement. Whether or not Google and LG's new watches are just what Android Wear needs is still uncertain since the watches are not yet available, but they are shaping up to look decent in the design department, and they'll come with software that will give Android Wear a nice little boost.