IT'S ABOUT DAMN TIME says a grizzled, cigar-chewing, smartwatch wearer as they glance down at their tiny wrist-mounted screen to read that Qualcomm is finally making new chips for Google's Wear OS.
For some time, smartwatches rocking Wear OS, formerly known as Android Wear, were saddled with Qualcomm's Snapdragon Wear 2100 chipset, regardless of the brand of smartwatch they had strapped to their wrists.
No, there's nothing inherently wrong with the Snapdragon wear 2100, save for it's a bit long in the tooth now given it debuted back in February 2016. That's an age ago in tech terms, especially given Qualcomm knocks out smartphone chips at quite a lick; we get a new Snapdragon 8-something chip each year, which ends up in the latest OnePlus, Samsung Galaxy, or Pixel phones.
But Qualcomm's wearables director Pankaj Kedia told, er, Wareable that the chipmaker will announce an updated wearables-centric processor in the Autumn alongside a flagship smartwatch.
So there's hope for Wear OS users to get a core hardware platform that modernises their next smartwatch purchase. The new chipset will be especially notable because it will be designed for scratch for smartwatch uses, unlike the Snapdragon Wear 2100 chip which was basically a mobile bit of silicon reworked for wearable use.
"But when we go to generation three, it's designed from the ground up for a no-compromises smartwatch experience with dedicated chips that make your watch look pretty when you're not looking at it, that brings the best fitness and watch experience, and extends battery life," Kedia told Wareable.
A change in chip architecture and design could result in the next Snapdragon Wear paving the way for more battery-efficient smartwatches with more interesting or practical designs that boost the appeal of Wear OS devices without compromising on their connectivity or potential processing power.
Wear OS smartwatches haven been a resounding success in the face of the Apple Watch or Samsung Gear watches and their Tizen operating system. So an improved chipset could see Wear OS get improved with more software and hardware features and performance.
Given Google is going balls-deep with artificial intelligence in large swathes of its software, whatever the search giant does next with Wear OS AI is likely to be involved. µ
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