They won’t bear Google or Pixel branding, though.
Google said it wouldn’t sell its own in-house smartphones, then it introduced the Pixel. The search giant may be following a similar pattern with its wearables plan: following earlier rumors of a Google-branded Android Wear device, The Verge reported this week that the first Android Wear 2.0 devices will launch in the first quarter of 2017, and won’t have Google or Pixel branding.
That’s according to Jeff Chang, product manager of Android Wear, who told The Verge that the new devices are a collaboration between Google and a third-party manufacturer, similar to Google’s partnership with HTC for the original Nexus smartphone.
New innovations in Android Wear 2.0 will include standalone apps that don’t require a phone, The Verge reported, as well as support for both Android Pay and Google Assistant, the Amazon Alexa competitor that launched this month on the Google Home.
As with Android smartphones and tablets, not every Android wearable will get the update, because Google is not requiring manufacturers to roll it out, Chang explained. Android fragmentation has been a source of frustration for the company this year, and it was even contemplating shaming phone makers who don’t offer updates to the latest Android version.
Chang didn’t offer any details on specifications for the first Android Wear 2.0 devices, but he did say that there would be two of them, according to The Verge. That’s in line with a rumor that Android Police reported in July: a large, sporty version (codenamed “Angelfish”) is expected to include LTE, GPS, and a heart-rate monitor, while a smaller model (known as “Swordfish”) will act more as a fitness tracker.
Investing in new wearables isn’t a sure bet for Google, both because of the uncertainty of consumer demand as well as stiff competition from Samsung, Apple, and Fitbit, which recently acquired Pebble.