- Antonio Villas-Boas / Business Insider
The first major update to Google’s smartwatch operating system, Android Wear, has been delayed until early 2017.
Android Wear 2.0, which was first announced at Google’s I/O conference in May, was supposed to launch this fall and introduce a bunch of new features to Android smartwatches, including standalone apps that run independently of the phone, new fitness tracking features, and an on-screen keyboard.
An early version of Android Wear 2.0 is available for developers who want to build apps for the platform.
But Google noted, at the bottom of a blog post for developers about the latest updates, that it will be holding back the final version of the software until next year.
“We’ve decided to continue the preview program into early 2017, at which point the first watches will receive Android Wear 2.0,” Google said in the post, without providing a reason for the change.
The delay means that Google and its partners will not be able to sell a new generation of Android Wear smartwatches during the all-important holiday season, even as Apple has just released a new version of its smartwatch.
It’s been a slow start for Android Wear, which launched two years ago. But the wearables category has been dominated by FitBit, Apple, and Garmin, according to research firm IDC.
Meanwhile, three of the top Android Wear watch manufacturers – LG, Motorola, and Huawei – said earlier this month that they do not plan to release new Android Wear devices this year. Huawei is said to be considering ditching Android Wear for Samsung’s Tizen, according to the Korea Herald.
Despite the lack of new major new hardware, a source familiar with Google’s plans for Android Wear told Business Insider that the product pipeline is still full, and new watches could launch in the coming months, perhaps around the same time Android Wear 2.0 is available to the public. And some fashion brands like Fossil and Michael Kors have recently released Android Wear watches, although they aren’t likely to have the same draw as smartwatches built by tech companies.