Reports of a Google smartwatch have been floating around since last year, but recently reignited after rumors surfaced that LG is building a watch for Google to introduce in time for I/O. Now Android Police claims to have gotten its hands on images of a potentially Motorola-crafted prototype that may have been abandoned in favor of a device from LG. I certainly hope it did, because this prototype is just plain ugly.
According to Android Police, this watch was going by the codename Gem but would have launched as a Nexus device dubbed Google Watch. It’s a fairly generic name, but then again, this is a fairly generic design. As you can see, there’s a square display with a Motorola logo at the bottom right corner and a capacitive Back button on the left. There’s also a rocker at the top, which, when seen in close up, shows a figure of someone running on one button and a microphone on the other.
Aside from the flip out USB connector at the end of the watch band, there really isn’t anything here we haven’t seen before. And to be quite honest, this really isn’t something we need to see again.
Think about it: This design looks strikingly similar to the MotoActv (below), which came out in 2011. The look of the smartwatch hasn’t evolved much since then, from the Pebble to the Samsung Gear 2. And while all of these watches manage to deliver some unique, desirable features, none of them actually look like something I would want to wear. And judging by the fact that smartwatch category still hasn’t truly taken off in the mainstream, I’m sure many other people agree.
I’m not against this form factor, but I am against wearing a big, bulky device on my wrist. So far, I’ve yet to wear a smartwatch (or activity tracker, for that matter) that comes anywhere close to being as comfortable or as stylish as my traditional watch of choice, a simple Timex Weekender. I understand that a smartwatch needs room for a screen, hardware to power it, and enough battery to keep it running. But even with all of the functionality in the world, I just don’t see the category reaching a wider audience until it can find a happy medium between usefulness and wearability.
Motorola touched on this at Mobile World Congress. Senior vice president of product Rick Osterloh revealed the company is working on a smartwatch, and that it “aim[s] to address consumer issues like style & battery life.”
The prototype above might deliver a better user experience than the Pebble — my current smartwatch of choice — but I still probably wouldn’t wear it in place of my traditional timepiece. I care about cool new technology, but I also care about what I look like, and quite frankly, I’m tired of removing bulky, unattractive devices before I go out in public.
Then again, prototypes are just that: prototypes. Even if Motorola did develop the watch above for Google at some point, it doesn’t mean that it’s the model we’ll ultimately see. I’m hoping it isn’t.