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Nexus "Gem" Smartwatch May Be Announced with KitKat

Image: Intomobile

Google is reportedly scheduled to launch a Nexus-branded smartwatch, codenamed "Gem", alongside the LG Nexus 5 and Android 4.4 "KitKat" later this month. This device will supposedly rely heavily on Google Now, meaning it could possibly use the same Motorola X8 compute system found in the Moto X, or Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 (if it fits within a watch form factor) SoC with voice activation functionality baked right in.

Of course, to save battery, the Google Now functionality may be limited to a physical button mounted on the side, or a possible touchpad. A smartwatch patent filed by Google was published back in May revealing a watch form factor with a touchpad mounted above and below the display. These touchpads may be removable, and support Google Glass style tapping, pinching and stretching finger gestures so that users aren't tapping directly on the screen.

The display design itself suggests that the size will be large enough to correctly display Google Now/Glass Cards. The wristband will supposedly include a voltage line, a data line and a clock line. The base, coupled with the wristband, will include a housing, an SoC that will communicate with the data and clock lines, and a wireless transceiver for connecting to wireless networks. The battery will also be located in the base next to the SoC.

The patent also suggests that the smartwatch can be put into sleep mode simply by taking it off the user's wrist. There's also an indication that a wired connection can be made to an auxiliary device (like a desktop PC) via parts of the clasp mechanism that could be used to form a plug or a miniUSB-style port. This device will also supposedly pack Bluetooth Low Power for connecting to smartphones and tablets.

There's speculation that Motorola may actually be manufacturing Google's smartwatch given its experience with the MOTOACTIV. An actual physical model was supposedly making the rounds back in May, showing up in at least three Google offices including Berlin, Manchester and Mountain View. The device is supposedly an alternative to Glass, providing the same functionality save for the camera.

As a comparison, the MOTOACTIV sells for around $260 USD on Amazon, and sports a TI OMAP3630 SoC clocked at 600 MHz, 256 MB of RAM, 8 GB of internal storage, Wireless N and Bluetooth 4 connectivity, and a 1.6-inch capacitive multitouch LDC display (220 x 176). The bundle includes the device, a sports wrist strap, a wall charger, stereo headphones with a mic, a belt clip and a USB cable. The OS of choice is likely Android.

The question now is, will Google call this device the "Nexus Gem"? Even more, will it be compatible with most Android smartphones, or does Google have plans to limit its availability to Nexus devices? Taking Samsung's "Galaxy Gear" route doesn't seem like a path Google would take if it plans to dominate the smartwatch market, but who knows at this point: it's all rumor and speculation anyway.