Google will launch two flagship smartwatches early next year

Google will be launching two new flagship smartwatches in the first quarter of next year, according to Jeff Chang, product manager of Android Wear at Google. In an exclusive interview with The Verge, Chang said that the new watches will be the flagship Android Wear 2.0 devices and will be the first ones to launch with the new platform.

The new smartwatches had been rumored before, but Google confirmed the upcoming launch today as part of a larger effort to convince consumers that wearables — smartwatches specifically — are still in demand.

The new models will not have Google or Pixel branding, but will be branded by the company that is manufacturing them. Chang says that Google collaborated with the manufacturer — which he wouldn’t name, but said has produced Android Wear devices in the past — on the hardware design and software integration for the watches. He likened the partnership to Google’s Nexus smartphone program in terms of collaboration and goals.

Following the launch of the new devices, existing Android Wear watches will get the update to Android Wear 2.0. The new platform brings a number of new features, including standalone apps that don’t require a phone to work, support for Android Pay, and support for Google’s voice-controlled Assistant, which has already launched on the Pixel smartphones and Home speaker.

Not every existing Android Wear watch will be updated, but Google says most of the recent models will be. Certain features, such as Android Pay, require specific hardware, so not all models will support them. (Chang noted that the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition has NFC support and the new watches coming next year will have it, as well, but it is not a requirement for Android Wear partners at this time.)

Not every existing Android Wear watch will be updated…. that sounds pretty much like every other Android device out there.