Google is gearing up to challenge the existing smartwatch market with the launch of two new flagship devices.
Jeff Chang, product manager of Google's Android Wear, told the Verge that Google's new smartwatches will arrive in the first quarter of 2017. According to the report, the devices will be the first equipped with Android Wear 2.0, which in turn will roll out on other recently-launched models throughout the year.
The new operating system reportedly includes a number of new features, including apps that do not require smartphone tethering, support for Android Pay and compatibility with Google Assistant, which is already a feature on the Google Pixel smartphone.
While the upcoming smartwatches will be branded by the company manufacturing them (which remains unknown) and not Google, they clearly represent the tech giant's vision of a consumer market in which smartwatches are actually in demand.
Right now, Apple has a firm hold on the market and will continue to for the next few years, but Android Wear devices will "quickly catch up as emerging markets begin to adopt the technology," according to an analysis report from Business Insider.
Apple may have the more recognizable brand when it comes to smartwatches, but Google is doing its best to thwart the competition's dominance. The Verge report also notes that Android Wear 2.0 will work with iOS devices and even allow Android Pay function on iOS. That could be a blow for Apple, which has its own smart-pay service, Apple Pay.
Google has one final, but significant advantage: the variety of Android Wear devices available. "We've enabled a lot of diversity with our hardware partners to target different types of consumers and preferences," Chang told the Verge. That diversity could eventually level the playing field for Google. We'll have to see if Apple has a response in the coming years.