Google contemplating making own smartwatch

iwatch2 1

Yesterday, Pebble Technology started shipping the first round of watches to its Kickstarter backers (a companion iOS app went live this morning). We also spotted a number of promising smartwatches at CES, like the iOS-friendly Cookoo, Casio’s G-Shock and lots more. Even Apple is rumored to be collaborating with Intel on an iWatch and now Google is apparently considering making one as well…

Business Insider has received this from a source briefed on the plans:

Google is actively exploring the idea of making its own smart watch. Specifically, it is looking at ways it might be able to market this device.

While the report stops short of going into details, we think we have a pretty good idea what Google could be working on.

Of course a Google smartwatch would run Android and it should be taken for granted that notifications would be one among its key selling points.

After all, Android did popularize the pull-down gesture that invokes the notification panel on mobile devices. These alerts have been integral to the Android experience from day one so that’s obviously going to be one an area of intense focus for Google’s smartwatch product.

Smartwatches like the Pebble will happily relay notifications for incoming messages, Google Talk and Google Voice alerts included. However, a Google-branded smartwatch presumably would take the Android integration to the next level.

Google Time concept
Google Time mockup by Adrian Maciburko.

Don’t forget Google’s Glass project that set the tongues wagging at last year’s Google I/O. If anything, it proved Google’s been researching wearable computing appliances  heavily.

Needles to say, the Google filing sent the Apple rumor machine into full swing. The Internet giant also owns a patent for a wearable device with a flip-up display.

Google smartwatch patent

In June 2011, Google poached Apple’s wearable computing expert Richard DeVaul, a PhD. scientist from MIT. 9to5Google reported that Richard at Apple “was rumored to be working with SVP of Industrial Design, Jonny Ive in Apple’s secret labs building the next big thing”.

More about that in this Computerworld article.

Putting two and two together, the real news would be if Google wasn’t working on an Android-driven smartwatch. It’s inevitably the logical step in the expansion of the Android ecosystem.

iPod nano wristband Phil Schiller

The million dollar question is whether Apple’s industrial design wizard Jony Ive is prototyping an iWatch in his Cupertino bunker? And if so, can the market sustain these niche products?

Wrapping up, what would such a rumor be without the inevitable Gene Munster endorsement?

Here’s your quote:

We believe that longer term (over the next 10+ years), wearable computers could eventually replace the iPhone and smartphones in general.

We believe technology could progress to a point where consumers have a tablet plus wearable computers, like watches or glasses, that enable simple things like voice calls, texting, quick searches, navigation, etc. through voice control.

I think a smartwatch from Apple is a good idea.