Google has brought cellular connectivity between mobile phones and smartwatches running the Android Wear operating system, thus making it possible for people to make and pick up calls at say a shopping mall even when the phone is at home.
The first smartwatch to offer cellular support on Android Wear is the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE, which will roll out to customers worldwide, starting this month in the U.S. and South Korea. AT&T is already selling the device online with in-store sales scheduled for Friday. The smartwatch will also be available for preorder online through Verizon from Thursday.
LG said the device would be compatible with both Android and iOS smartphones, though it warned that cellular-enabled features would vary across the operating systems.
The cellular connectivity on Android Wear will likely address the need of a large number of users who are not keen to carry around both a smartphone and a smartwatch. The watches have traditionally supported Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections between the phone and the watch.
Samsung Electronics' Gear S smartwatch offers 3G cellular connectivity for calls and texting when away from the phone, besides Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. But the smartwatch runs on a Tizen-based wearable platform and not Google's Android Wear.
The Android Wear watch will now automatically switch to a cellular connection when the user is out of range of the phone on Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, wrote Peter Ludwig, product manager of Android Wear, in a blog post Wednesday.
"As long as your watch and phone are connected to a cellular network, you’ll be able to use your watch to send and receive messages, track fitness, get answers from Google, and run your favorite apps," he wrote. "And yes, you’ll even be able to make and take calls right from your watch, for when your hands are full, or your phone is elsewhere."
The LTE cellular Android Wear smartwatch from LG has a classic watch design, a 480 x 480 high resolution display, three buttons for quick access to shortcut settings, and a 570mAh battery, LG said. The watch AT&T is selling runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset and has internal memory storage of up to 4GB and 768MB RAM.