December 23, 2016
By John Stewart
Alphabet Inc.’s Google unit will launch two new smart watches in the first quarter of 2017 that will run on the new Android Wear 2.0 platform and will support Android Pay, Google’s mobile-payments service. Jeff Chang, product manager for Android Wear, announced the news in an interview with The Verge, a tech Web site.
A preview image of Google's Android Wear 2.0 smart watches.
After the launch of these two new models, most recent smart watches running on Android Wear will be able to upgrade to version 2.0, according to Google. Android Pay requires support for near-field communication, the protocol by which the devices can link to contactless point-of-sale terminals. But it does not require access to the phone’s secure element, as does, for example, the competing Apple Pay wallet. In the interview, Chang said that Android Wear 2.0 will work on both Android and iOS devices, though there will be some variation in how it performs on the two operating systems.
The new platform arrives at a time when the wearables market appears to be slowing down. The number of U.S. users of smart watches, fitness bands, and other chip-enhanced gear was expected to grow 60% this year, but researcher eMarketer has scaled that estimate back to 24.7%. The firm expects the total user count to reach 39.5 million in 2016, with even slower growth, at 17.6%, to 44.4 million next year.
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