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Qualcomm is designing new chipsets for Wear OS, which means smartwatches still have hope

The chipset in use in most Google Wear OS smartwatches today was developed in 2016.

  • Published: May 10, 2018 5:54 PM IST
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Smartwatches were a huge deal back in 2014 when the technology was new, but the concept hasn’t quite picked up as well as manufacturers may have hoped. While fitness trackers, the Samsung Gear series and the Apple Watch series still sell in big numbers, one platform that hasn’t done as well is Wear OS, formerly known as Android Wear. It’s the platform of choice for a lot of Android users, and direct software support from Google makes it an excellent option if you have an Android smartphone.

However, Wear OS requires special chipsets designed for smartwatches. One of the key manufacturers of these chipsets is Qualcomm, and its leading chipset for smartwatches is the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100. The chipset was developed in 2016, and hasn’t seen any significant updates since then. Qualcomm’s lack of attention on the field has caused the Wear OS platform to suffer a bit, and it’s been up to the software to keep up with the dated hardware at this point. The good news here is that Qualcomm is finally designing new chipsets for the Wear OS platform, which could give it fresh impetus in the fight against Samsung’s Tizen and Apple’s Watch OS platforms.

In an interview with Wareable, Pankaj Kedia, senior director of wearables at Qualcomm, said that new chipsets are due to launch later this year alongside a “lead smartwatch”. Additionally, various other Wear OS-powered smartwatches will be coming to the market by the end of year, which will be powered by the new wearable chipsets from Qualcomm. The chipsets will be designed from the ground up specifically for the smartwatch product segment, rather that as smartphone chipsets re-purposed for wearable use.

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All of the new chips will come with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi as standard. Fitness-focused chips will also sport GPS, while high-end options could also have LTE on-board. This will finally help the Wear OS platform effectively compete against the Samsung Gear series and the Apple Watch series, which are currently far ahead in terms of capabilities and innovation. The new chipsets will also help makes Wear OS watches smaller; they’re among the bulkiest smartwatches on the market today.

  • Published Date: May 10, 2018 5:54 PM IST