Might Google introduce a smartwatch tomorrow?

Google's mysterious 7/24 announcement will not be for a smartphone, but maybe it will introduce an Android smartwatch

It's official - Google Senior Vice President Sundar Pichai won’t be announcing the Motorola X in San Francisco on July 24 because last Friday, Google’s independent Motorola subsidiary sent invitations for the announcement of its next flagship smartphone, the Motorola X. It will take place next week on August 1 in New York. As anticipated, the invitations were independently branded by Motorola.

There is only speculation about the details of the “air-tight” July 24 announcement while every day more details about the August 1 Motorola X smartphone announcement surface. Last Friday, I ventured that Pichai would announce an updated version of the Nexus 7 tablet. Another Android tablet from Google is interesting, but not breathtaking. What could be breathtaking?

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An Android smartwatch. The date 7/24 would fit a promotional smartwatch theme, a mirror image of 24/7. An Android smartwatch would capitalize on interest of the press and public in wearable devices and appcessories, preempting the rumored Apple iWatch. An Android smartwatch could be brought to market quickly because it is not a moonshot product category like Google Glass that is in an early stage of definition. The smartwatch product category is well understood because it has been prototyped by a number of companies. Kickstarter alumni Pebble and MetaWatch launched generic iOS and Android smart watches a year ago. Consumer icon Sony also has introduced its version of the smartwatch.

A smartwatch would also explain two important features in the pending Android 4.3 release, Bluetooth LE (low energy) and a new notification service.

Considering that an Android smartwatch would need to be in constant communication with the wearer’s smarphone and vice versa, battery life is a big consideration. Bluetooth is already power-efficient, but when its constant drain is added to the power budget of an app like an Android smartwatch that is contextually aware of the user’s location and intent, Bluetooth LE with its 5-to-10-times power efficiency improvement is the right choice for both smartphone and smartwatch.

The Android Police reported the change to Android’s notification system by Kevin Barry of Tesla Coil Software. The change to the notification subsystem allows third-party apps to interact with Android notifications in the same way that a user would directly with his or her Android smartphone.

Android police listed some example use cases of the new notifications with an Anrdoid smartwatch, such as a “super simple way to archive the latest Gmail message, or pause music on your favorite music player.” But there is one noted problem. The permission level to use this function is limited to Google and its OEMs, which is counter-intuitive. Why provide access to notifications to app developers and then restrict them from it? It only makes sense if Google will release an Android framework for smartwatches and wearables (Google Glass) that interact with the new notification system.

Security around the 7/24 announcement is airtight. There isn’t any hard data or even leaked data to use in this prediction, except the 7/24 date and the leaked information about Android 4.3, which also would support an Android smartwatch announcement. If it is a smartwatch, it won’t be introduced in competition with other smartwatches, but more so as a framework to accelerate the development of apps for Android watches, wearables and appcessories.

Tomorrow's announcement and the Motorola X announcement will share a common theme. These are best-in-category products that Google will deliver not so much in competition with its partners, but as beacons of what is possible raising the bar for innovation and engineering.

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