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IT & Systems Management

Google's putting the finishing touches on a Google Now smartwatch, says WSJ

Lucky technophiles who get in on the next production round of Google Glass may soon be able to pick up a Googley wristwatch to go with it. A new report says Google is very close to producing its own Android-based smartwatch, following Samsung's roll out of the Galaxy Gear earlier in October. And unlike Samsung's multipurpose wrist rider, Google's watch will reportedly center around delivering Google Now updates.

It's not clear when Google's watch might show up, but The Wall Street Journal reports the search giant is in "late-stage development" of its wristwear. Google is currently talking to suppliers in Asia in the hopes of ramping up mass production in the coming months, the Journal said, based on discussions with "people familiar with the matter."

The Journal's report follows an earlier story from 9to5 Google that said the company was putting the finishing touches on a smartwatch design.

Driving design

There are few details about the purported Google smartwatch beyond the claim that Google Now will play a big role in its design. The Journal says Google is focused on making a smartwatch that is more useful than current products from companies like Samsung and Sony.

Google is also reportedly focusing on providing a device with great battery life that won't need frequent charging. During our review of Samsung's Galaxy Gear we found the device fell far short of Samsung's 25-hour battery life claim.

Google Now would certainly be a killer feature for a smartwatch (or any wearable technology, including Glass).

Google Now is all about timely notifications that deliver information just as you need it. That's harder to do with a smartphone that sits in your pocket for a big chunk of the day. A watch, however, can quickly light up when it's time to get moving to your next appointment, calculating your departure time based on local traffic conditions. At-a-glance notifications for upcoming flights, shipments headed to your house, and even sports scores (especially on Sundays during the fall) would also make more sense on a watch.

But are people still willing to invest their money in a wristwatch? The general popularity of watches has waned in recent years as smartphones became replacements for telling time and checking the date.

Smartwatches--especially ones featuring Google Now--could give people a reason to strap a tiny gadget to their arms. Short of Apple releasing a mythical iWatch, however, it's hard to imagine smartwatches going mainstream given their relatively high cost. Samsung's Galaxy Gear, for example, will likely remain a niche product since it's as expensive as a tablet at $300--and nearly a third of the Gears that are selling at Best Buy are rumored to have been returned .

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