Google revealed its new line of Android Wear 2.0 at its I/O 2016 developer conference. The company called it “the most significant update to Android Wear” since the platform’s first launch two years ago. The new version will also include Google Assistant and be available on LG’s new line of smart watches as well as all currently supported Android Wear watches, over 20 wearables in total. But unlike Assistant on the Pixel or Google Home, Android Wear’s Assistant doesn’t talk back, it only uses text.
While integrating its Google Assistant into Android Wear 2.0 devices is a start, Google Assistant is still behind Amazon Alexa in this area. And the market for smart watches is still questionable. For instance, Apple Watch sales have been robust by industry standards, selling an estimated 14.7 million units to date. But Apple is predicted to have sold 71% fewer watches in last year’s third quarter compared to the same period in 2015. This decrease could indicate a product failing or that there is simply not enough demand for premium smart watches. Considering the simpler, cheaper Fitbit is the market leader taking 23% of the wearable market share, it could be the latter.
Consumers tend to see smart watches as a commodity not a necessity. They do certain things well, like activity tracking, mobile payments and notifications. But these are tasks that smart phones are also capable of. And according to The Verge’s recent review of the Android Wear 2.0’s new devices, Google has improved upon these capabilities. Yet the review still concludes with “Smartwatch and fitness enthusiasts both have a lot to like here. But Android Wear 2.0 and the Watch Sport and Watch Style don’t change the conversation around smartwatches and don’t really give a great reason for the unconverted to jump aboard.”