Smart watches, smart wearables and other wearable technologies didn’t see much growth in 2016. Even with the announcement of Android Wear 2.0 at Google I/O, many manufacturers weren’t exactly keen on making wearables with the dropping device shipments. An emerging category of devices which was spearheaded by companies like Pebble has since become stagnant. However, while mainstream mobile device manufacturers such as Motorola, LG and Huawei have become silent the category saw an increase in adoption from long time watch makers such as FOSSIL and CASIO.
With many manufacturers putting follow-ups to their Android wear devices on hold for 2016, it comes as quite a surprise that ZTE is jumping onboard the Android wear bandwagon. CES 2017 saw the Chinese manufacturer confirm that it has ongoing work on an Android Wear devices which will launch later this year. While little else is known about the device, it has been learnt that ZTE will be partnering with one of the four major U.S. carriers (telcos) to sell the watch. The smartwatch will apparently come with standalone functionality and will be LTE enabled. These were hallmark features of the Android Wear 2.0 platform which Google announced at Google I/O 2016. In a bold claim, ZTE says that it will be able to deliver better battery life compared to similar devices in the market.
While shipments may have been lacklustre over 2016, the blame can’t be put solely on utility and design. The smart wearables platform and software such as Android Wear and even Apple’s WatchOS has found little use aside from being a secondary display for notifications and the like. Without a larger, more compelling proposition from the manufacturers and even platform developers, it’s hard to see consumers moving from a traditional watch to one which has a few more gimmicks.
ZTE may not be only one who has an Android Wear device in the works, rumours are rife with LG also working with Google to develop their next wearable.