With Android Wear 2.0 about to drop and a sporty New Balance-Casio one two at CES, things are looking up for Google's smartwatch platform.
For Tag, Fossil and Michael Kors it has allowed watchmaker and fashion brands to skip years of R&D and launch smartwatches with form factors that are true to their aesthetics and quality with bespoke watch faces and companion companion apps. Likewise sports and outdoors companies with existing watch ranges. Win win.
Read this: 50 gamechangers for 2017
We wrote in mid 2016 that you can categorise this new wave of Android Wear partners into sports and style. The first wave of Samsung, LG, Motorola and Sony didn't work out too well in terms of sales. Still, the latest is that LG and ZTE will be the next to come out with fresh Wear watches.
So who do we want to be the next to sign on? The below aren't exactly predictions for 2017 but something much purer than that: who we *want* to build Android Wear watches. Add yours via the comments.
Paul Lamkin - Editor in chief
Back in September, Stacey Burr, VP of wearable sports electronics at Adidas told me: "We're not going to see a new running watch from Adidas for a while." She did admit, however, that: "There will be some additional hardware in the future."
Could that mean an Adidas Android Wear smartwatch? I bloody hope so. I've been using the ageing miCoach Smart Run GPS running watch for years now. It's a beast. It's ugly as sin. But I love the miCoach Train and Run ecosystem it taps into. So I'd like to see Adidas follow what Polar did with the M600, i.e. launch a smartwatch that is very much a training watch first and an Android Wear smartwatch second. Sure, I want all the regular Wear features but I also want a solid, pre-loaded miCoach app placed front and centre.
I've had a soft spot for the German sports giant ever since I slipped on a pair of 'World Cup' football boots waaaaay back in 1988. Adidas has always been my go-to sports brand of choice and I've always loved the retro-looking Originals watch collection. Maybe I'm being greedy here but I'd like a watch that looks like this and also runs Google's wearable OS.
Sophie Charara - Features editor
I'm going to go with a somewhat obvious choice: Kate Spade. The New York based designer already has a line of connected trackers and hybrid smartwatches designed for women via Fossil Group. But unlike Michael Kors with the Access Dylan and Access Bradshaw, we didn't see a smartwatch with a screen as part of the range.
Now, a Kate Spade Android Wear watch will only work when the watch can be small and slim enough to not look out of place next to the dumb models. So perhaps these technical and design limitations are some of the reasons for the hold up. Either that or a screen was a no-no from the brand. (Ditto Skagen). We might even see a Kate Spade proper smartwatch as part of the 300 Fossil Group wearables due to launch this year.
What's nice about the Kate Spade wearables so far is that it has an aesthetic point of view in keeping with the existing accessories. It isn't just a clueless tech company's idea of what all women wear. Plus the digital watch faces design themselves with all the quirky details, colour schemes and patterns we've already seen make their way to the hybrids and trackers.
Kate Spade watches aren't all cat ears and pink glitter either, there's preppier and classier styles too, all of which are ripe for an Android Wear partnership that offers lots and lots of finishes, sizes and straps please.
Hugh Langley - US Editor
I'm going to cheat a bit and pick two.
That's because my first choice is a little unrealistic - but as someone who still mourns the FuelBand, I'd love to see Nike tackle Android Wear on a really good running watch. Sadly, Nike is shacked up with Apple and probably will be for the foreseeable future, so it's unlikely we'll see this happen any time soon.
But Nike's got a decent software platform and a history of teaming up with companies. Yeah, the Nike+ SportWatch was fugly when you put it next to today's crop of wearables, but the FuelBand proved it could apply great design to fitness tech competence.
And if that doesn't happen? I'll settle for Mondaine having a go. The watch maker has already put out a hybrid in the Helvetica 1 Smart, but I'd be interested to see its spin on a Android Wear timepiece. Mondaine's Simple Elegant watch is a firm favourite, though as Sophie said above, size is going to be limited by the technology. But if anyone's going to prove just how simple and elegant Android Wear can be...
Michael Sawh - Editor
When I think about the watches I used to love wearing I always go back to the first Timex I owned. It was a 1998 edition of the Expedition Indiglo. Yes, the illuminating screen was a little bit of a gimmick, but I loved it. It was rugged, but not too bulky and it got a serious amount of wearing time. I'm pretty sure if I dug it out again the light would still work as well as it did back then.
We've already seen Timex venture into the world of hybrid smartwatches with the Metropolitan+ and IQ+ Move and if it decided to go the full fat smartwatch route, I'd love to see it buddy up with Google and get it running Android Wear. It could be a great fit for its Expedition collection or something more sporty like the Timex Ironman watches.
The likes of Casio, Nixon and New Balance have already shown that you can merge great fitness or outdoor-focused hardware with Android Wear and still customise the experience to help it stand out from the Wear crowd. You could have some potentially great custom watches and maybe even Timex could find enough room to squeeze in that iconic backlight as well.
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