Details of Google's smartwatch development have emerged, along with photos of an old Motorola-made prototype, and whispers that the final version could be unveiled at Google IO 2014 in June. Chatter of the company's ongoing research into wearables other than its Glass head-worn computer has continued for the past twelve months or so, though most recently have suggested the company will make Google Now its focus on the wrist by delivering timely and contextually-relevant information from a connected smartphone.
According to CNET sources, LG is the possible manufacturer of the smartwatch, with Google leading the design and development process. That would be similar to how the Nexus phone scheme works, and another possibility is that LG could be one of several hardware partners, all using a new "wearable OS" that could be revealed as soon as March.
Meanwhile, images of what's said to be the "Google Gem", a prototype watch built for the company by Google, have leaked, courtesy of Android Police. Not headed to production - and likely used by Google internally to test its OS handiwork - the Gem is believed to date from some point in 2013.
Full specifications are unknown, beyond what the hardware itself tells. The watch has a small square display, a rocker or double-button above, and a capacitive button underneath, by the Motorola logo.
Going by magnified images of the rocker itself, it could have icons for a running man and for a microphone. That has led to suggestions that fitness and Google Now voice recognition would be the two primary purposes for the smartwatch, getting dedicated shortcuts.
Meanwhile, a final image shows a clever USB charging/syncing plug integrated into the watch's strap.
Motorola confirmed yesterday at Mobile World Congress that it was working on a smartwatch for release sometime in 2014, though it's unclear whether that builds on this Gem prototype or a different design. Meanwhile, Samsung made its second play for the smartwatch market, unveiling the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo which work with the company's Galaxy range of phones.