Android Wear is finally being shipped out, but what exactly will the smartwatch do and will Apple be able to keep up -- or beat it? All those questions are swirling around the latest developments in the hotly contested tech market today.
Apple, long rumored to be planning an entry nicknamed the iWatch, appears to be moving forward with efforts to assemble a team of leaders from multiple luxury and health brands. Its most recent hire, CNBC and Reuters reported, was Vice President of Sales and Retail from the Swiss luxury watch company Tag Heuer, Patrick Pruniaux.
In February, a former employee of Philips Research, Roy J.E.M. Raymann, was hired to be an expert on sleep research. Previous Apple hires possibly linked to iWatch development and marketing plans include Angela Ahrendts, the former CEO of Burberry; former Yves-Saint Laurent chief, Paul Denveve; Senior Vice President of Levi's, Enrique Atienza; and former Nike designer Ben Shaffer.
Earlier reports said production on the new Apple smartwatch could start later this summer, with the device possibly ready for release this fall, possibly October, at the same time as the newest versions of the company's iPhone and iPad.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has never confirmed plans for an iWatch, but has repeatedly said to expect "exciting new categories" this year.
The first two smartwatches built on Android Wear are now available. The LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live -- announced at the Google I/O developers conference last month -- use Google's latest Android software to power features such as health tracking, navigation and voice-activated commands.
One key difference between the two wearables: Gear Live offers heart-rate tracking, while the LG G does not. CNET also reports that the Samsung Gear Live has the added benefit of more apps being available sooner rather than later. But CNET's review notes that the battery and its charger -- as well as a display that doesn't work well in direct sunlight -- might prove to be downsides for some consumers. CNET's review of the LG G also found room for improvement in a device it called "one of the first Google watches, but not the best."
Both watches run on the same platform and run the same software, reports Wired. When paired with your Android phone, the smartwatch face becomes the notification center for app notifications. Alerts, such as appointment reminders, will also appear on the watch, so users don't have to take their cellphone out of their pocket.
The watches also put Google Now easily at reach, so with an "OK Google" voice command a user can input reminders, receive weather notifications and a host of other commands straight to their wrist. TechCrunch notes that although the feature has been available for some time and does have its glitches, it's "one thing for that information to be available on your phone, but on your wrist, it suddenly becomes so much more accessible."
Far from the only two tech companies working on wearables, Google and Apple may soon have some more competition come this fall. Other companies are expected to get in on the wearable action, as CNET reported that Microsoft may enter the market this fall. Similar to the Samsung Galaxy Gear's functions, the rumored Microsoft wearable may go a step further -- making its software available on iOS and Android.