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Will 2014 be the year of the smartwatch?

Friday, April 11th 2014 by Richard Murphy
Will 2014 be the year of the smartwatch?
With Android wearables from LG and Motorola on the horizon, is the smartwatch finally about to take off?

It's become passe to predict the smartwatch will be the technology world's next big thing. Year after year, Apple surprises the world by not launching the iWatch, while other entrants such as the Samsung Galaxy Gear fall far short of setting the market on fire.

After all, what do we really need wrist-mounted devices for? Manufacturers seem to think fitness tracking tools will be a key selling point, but this is obviously a niche application. As for answering calls and reading text messages, aren't smartphones convenient enough?

However, there seems to have been genuine evidence this past week that device makers are planning a new smartwatch offensive. Perhaps this time they'll win over the buying public?

Firstly, wearable devices quite literally made the primetime on Friday (4 March) when hip-hop renaissance man Will.i.am appeared on Alan Carr: Chatty Man sporting a smartwatch of his own design. Apparently the singer and entrepreneur's device is a fully-fledged phone replacement, so he's taken a different tack to Samsung – the Gear series only work alongside compatible Galaxy devices.

Later in the week, LG confirmed to Pocket Lint that its first Android Wear-powered G Watch will be coming to the UK sooner rather than later. The South Korean manufacturer expects Britons will get their hands on the wearable device before July and they'll pay less than £180 for the privilege. It won't be the first Android-powered smartwatch on the market, but might be the first time we get hands-on experience with Google's new wearable-specific branch of the operating system. There's no word yet when Motorola's Android Wear smartwatch, the Moto 360, will hit shelves.

Finally, we learned this week that after years in which it existed only as a rumour, Apple is finally gearing up to ship the so-called iWatch. This is according to Chinese supply chain sources, who told the Economic Daily News they'd be delivering components from August for a third-quarter release window.

Will Cupertino's involvement in the smartwatch game finally blow the market open? A new Apple product never fails to whip the public into a frenzy, but can the company convince us a smartwatch is what we need?

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