25
Feb
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A few days ago, we published a story about Google's possibly upcoming smartwatch. Current rumors suggest that the watch may be ready in time for Google I/O, and that it might be made by LG. We also mentioned that we had heard of a Motorola prototype previously - a prototype that may have been scrapped in favor of a new design from the manufacturer who made the Nexus 4 and 5.

We've decided to put a few of our cards on the table and give readers a peek at the Motorola prototype that never became a real product. According to our anonymous source, the device was allegedly going by the name Google Watch, with the official code name Gem, and fell into the Nexus category of devices. Whether a future watch will keep the codename Gem is uncertain.

It's important to note that what we are looking at here is a prototype, not a finished product. The photos we have are of a model believed to exist in 2013. It is likely that, had this become a real product, consumers would have seen significant hardware and software differences. First, let's look at the photos.

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What we can see in the first photo is most of the device - the rubberized band (which looks like it has a pin for detachment), a square display with a sizeable bottom bezel, a rocker of some sort up top, and a button on the lower left face of the device. There's also a capacitive back button on the front face, opposite a Motorola logo.

The second photo shows a brief snippet of a settings screen. This screen is presumably not final, as Date & Time are below the trigger for Developer Mode. We're not sure what "3 Bit mode Apps" is referring to, and without seeing any other parts of the interface it's hard to draw any conclusions. One possibility is that 3 Bit mode would allow apps to display in 8 colors, and that the rest of the interface would be monochrome. Again though, without seeing more it's impossible to say.

What we also see, though, is that the rocker buttons have symbols embossed on them. On the left is a running human figure, and on the right is what looks like a microphone icon. They're a bit hard to make, but here's the rocker enlarged:

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Again, without seeing the actual interface or testing out the watch for ourselves, it's hard to say how these would behave, but assuming one is a running man and the other is a microphone, it would make sense that one would put the device into fitness mode (whatever that may entail) and the other would trigger a voice Search. Google Now integration would (hopefully) be a given.

Here's one more image, showing (as a commenter rightly points out below) that the piece at the end of the band which snaps into the holes in the band flips out to reveal a USB connector, used for charging the device.

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If you find the blurrycam image hard to look at, I've made a basic drawing of the device:

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Motorola Mobility has confirmed via Twitter today that the manufacturer is working on a watch that will be available "this year."

Whether Motorola is continuing to develop this prototype or working on a completely new concept after leaving Google we can't be certain. But the fact that Motorola is evidently working on its own watch to debut this year may just lend some credibility to rumors that Google is now working with LG on its own watch effort.

Liam Spradlin
Liam loves Android, design, user experience, and travel. He doesn't love ill-proportioned letter forms, advertisements made entirely of stock photography, and writing biographical snippets.

  • taxi333

    fugly

    • http://rootzwiki.com/news Max M.

      Well, it was a prototype.

      • taxi333

        true that

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Prototypes usually are, especially very early ones.

      • http://google.com/+derekross Derek Ross

        Nice job ;)

      • Ben

        Alternatively: Smartwatches usually are.

        I don't think the Copenhagen watch looked this bad, even the earliest prototype.

    • mlj11

      But still better looking (in a classic Casio kinda way) than the Galaxy Gear imho...

    • Evan Penner

      It actually looks pretty good, screen cover and weird paint scheme aside.

    • g

      what are you all talking about ITS FANTASTIC!

  • http://www.thepixelpuse.com/ Aj Meadows

    Glad this didn't make it to market as-is (as-was?). It looks pretty chunky and unappealing. I'm hoping that Google's new attempt at a smartwatch reflects some of the industrial design cues seen in Glass. I actually really like the way Glass looks like it was designed by someone in the 60's thinking about what a device in the future of 2014 would look like. If it had some of those hard edges and curves, but translated into a watch form-factor, and built with premium materials, then I think Google could have a winner. If Moto sticks with this look for their upcoming wearable, I think they'll fade into obscurity like just about everything else that's not a Pebble. As is, it looks pretty generic.

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      Agreed. Glass has some great industrial design behind it. With the statements from Moto's MWC event today, I would expect (and hope) that Moto's watch will look much different from this. I would also hope Google would release something better looking. Luckily, this is supposed to be just a prototype, so we can still fantasize about a good-looking smartwatch eventually debuting.

      • http://www.thepixelpuse.com/ Aj Meadows

        I will say: HUGE props to you guys getting the scoop on this thing. You guys and EV Leaks are always the best at getting great stuff like this.

  • jstew182

    It looks like the clasp on the band has a hinge for it to fold down to charge via USB.

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      To me it looks like the part sticking up would stick into the holes on the band, but there's definitely more going on there than just that. Since the image is so low-res, I didn't want to make too wild a speculation, but the possibility you raise is certainly reasonable.

      • jstew182

        Yeah I was thinking the part sticking up is what clasped onto the other side of the strap too but it looks like it would fold back with the hinged part.

        • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

          You were right, actually! It does flip down to reveal a USB connector. We've updated the post with one more image showing that.

  • Amer Khaznadar

    What you're calling a button on the lower left looks to me like the cover of where the charger would be plugged.

    Also, as a Pebble owner, I think that the buttons on top are a good idea. I feel that they would be much easier to use than side buttons.

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      Your guess is as good as mine, since I haven't had the device in my own hands to investigate. To me though it seems like a button, simply because it sticks out so far that if it were a port cover it would easily jar loose. But the top-mounted buttons are an interesting idea, if a watch needs to have buttons.

  • power_pizza

    A watch would be a good place for LG to utilize it's flexible LCD tech.

    • Weress1057

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    • yahyoh

      *oled

      • power_pizza

        Oops. Thanks!

  • veRdiKt

    looks like an upgraded motoactv. i still rock it every day when im not wearing my tag.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

    I'm really curious about the locations of the buttons on top, and kinda by the button on the left side. All of those spots require you to cover the screen, at least partially, with your opposing hand to read them. Either that, of you've got to crane one arm or wrist into some pretty uncomfortable spots.

    To me, this strongly implies that the buttons were either meant to be used when the screen is off (eg. controlling music playback while running) or they have to dramatically change the mode of the watch (cannot be used for changing volume or basic navigation). Just some thoughts...

    • EH101

      I disagree. The left button most certainly can be used without covering the screen and without twisting your wrist(s) at all. If you are wearing a watch, do a pinch-like gesture near the bottom utilizing the sides and you should be able to see what I'm talking about. (using right hand: thumb on the button, finger[s] on the right)

      As for the rocker button you could easily use the right side without covering the screen, but definitely not the left side. Traditionally I see a rocker button as being used for volume and media controls, so I'd wager that was the initial plan for those. The rocker would be much more useful if it were below the screen, so I'm interested in seeing what other use case they came up with.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

        I'm not saying it's impossible to reach the button without covering the screen, but it's not the most comfortable access point. Consider how you have to hold your arm to have a good view of the watch (basically parallel to your chest, roughly 12 inches away, give or take). What angle do you have to move your right hand in to give your thumb good access to that button? It's not terrible, but it's not ergonomic. At the very least, I don't think it's something you'll want to do with any frequency.

        On the other hand (no pun intended), that button is perfectly placed for pressing it blindly; let's say, with your arm partially crossing your body with the other hand meeting it to press the button.

        Obviously, prototypes as they are, and given that this project has almost certainly been scrapped, we'll probably never know if this was just a short-term design for testing purposes or if there was a greater intention behind this.

    • CoreRooted

      Honestly, I think the Pebble has the buttons done perfectly. I can access everything I need to without covering the screen AND without strange arm/wrist movements. While the Pebble is lacking software-wise (I want MORE! lol), the hardware buttons work perfectly. If Google can do something similar with an Android based OS (or at least good integration), I'd buy it in a heartbeat.

  • Dee Norbert

    I want one button on/off the rest Google Now only voice commands please

    • CoreRooted

      I agree with everything except the voice commands. In any metropolitan area, voice commands would be hell if there is no other interface. Aside from that, yes please to everything else!

  • Rajvir Singh

    I think the Galaxy Fit looks great.. If only it was usable with all Android phones and had a downloadable S-Health/Fitness app..

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Or was compatible with existing popular fitness apps on all devices. Proprietary apps ftl.

    • Alex

      A screen that displays information vertically doesn't make much sense though.
      For more than a hundred years, watches have displayed information the other way.

  • http://rayshq.com/ Ray

    Although this may never come to be, I really like what I'm seeing. Hopefully Google does release a watch (worldwide) during I/O or sooner.

    I'm keen as to get a smart watch but I've been waiting to see what Google brings to the table first.

  • MyLeftNut

    The wording of this post is off. The comma and placement of "Made by Motorola Last Year" implies that we are seeing an early prototype of a watch that was developed last year. As in the actual watch and not the prototype was made last year and we are just now seeing what an earlier prototype looks like. Actually just getting rid of comma would make it a lot better.

    Just a thought.

  • Mystery Man

    Looks like my Nixon watch

  • Jack

    Looks like a MotoActiv, only crunchy.

    • ShoomKloom

      I had two for breakfast

  • http://tommydaniel.com Tommy Thompson

    This looks like it could have been the successor to the MotoActv.

  • coolscrotie

    doesn't look good design-wise in my opinion... Apple will definitely have something prettier and consequently more successful. This is not just about features, it's also about style.

    When approaching this design, they should go for this approach:
    "If our smartwatch was just a regular watch, would you want to wear it?"

    • ddpacino

      Pro.To.Type.

      • b

        this is totally in production ddpacino - and Ill be one of the first to buy one - LOVE IT!!!

        • ddpacino

          A Watch... not THIS watch.

    • https://play.google.com/store/search?q=kodiak+211 Google_Is_The_Higgs_Boson

      I agree, Apple will make something pretty... But Google will make something worth using, for a good price...

      • AbbyZFresh

        At the end of the day, look at the sales of Apple devices compared to Google's. Looks like more people prefer the pretty over function.

        • Amit

          Uh...look at the sales data please!

        • divebus

          I prefer Apple because it functions without screwing with it and everything works across the ecosystem. Pretty has nothing to do with it. Had to make a bunch of Android devices work for people. It's a relative train wreck, but many people are fine with it.

  • Knowles2

    Well it good that this was a prototype but I can understand while Google didn't proceed with the project or at least delayed it a little.

    Through being suspicious these leaks, plus the little twitter notice does make this look like a coordinated marketing effort on the part of Motorola,

  • Davis Hernandez

    no removable band? as a watch lover i dont like non.removable band watches, thats why for me the motoactv was so good, theres plenty of watches gaining dust because of unremovable bands that have rubberized straps and after a year or so they got damaged for daily use and pretty much unusable

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      It actually does look like it's removable. It's rubberized but it has what looks like a small pin for detachment.

      • Davis Hernandez

        but the band itself has the usb connector, so no replacements sadly :(

  • remister

    If anything, we shall see what Google I/O has in store for us this year. Time to save those pennies again.

  • Cael

    Looks way better than the Galaxy Gear...

  • Darkbotic

    I just want it to vibrate when receiving a call, message or any notification on my phone.
    I always miss calls and messages because I don't feel my phone vibrating on my pocket...

    P.S. I have a Nexus 4.

    • shadowx360

      Change your kernel. Stock kennel has vibration set to 70%

      • j goldwarf

        I don't think you have any idea what a kernel is...

        • Moe Howard

          I feel sorry for the dogs in the vibrating kennel. Kennel, kernel, my guess is he's a colonel.

    • impulse101

      Get a Pebble if that is all you want

  • Evan Penner

    A lot of the smartwatches out now have good hardware and look great, but the compatibility is terrible. I hope LG or Moto makes a watch that's based on Android and works with all Android phones.

  • Colin Kaminski

    Watches are just as much about fashion as they are about function. If Google wants this to sell, it needs to bring more functionality than the current smart watch offerings and look good as well.

    • theunknown

      I agree, IMO the current best smartwatch that provides a very good balance between form and function is the Pebble Steel.
      I am going to wait to see Google's offering and then decide between the two

      An ideal situation would be, Google acquiring Pebble and upgrading the steel.
      However I know that wont be possible since the Pebble does not use Android as the base OS

  • mechapathy

    Please be called the Nexus .5

  • fernando

    I think a lot of the left button, and i get a conclusion, its a headphone jack, maybe im crazy but maybe is for music on the Smartwatch like the Moto Actv on the past.. think about it maybe that's only a cover for the jack...

  • Aaron

    But I thought @evleaks said Motorola is working on something called "Quark X"? https://twitter.com/evleaks/status/438127534908391424

  • MeCampbell30

    Kill it with fire.

  • Kand Remand

    Dude that is like major cool that is for sure. Wow.
    ANon-VPN.com

  • http://www.raytheon.com/ Chuck Dick

    Apple, please steer this wayward industry away from lunacy.

    • skipperslog

      Lolz... no wonder Google Sold Motorolla.

      • John Malone

        The fun thing is that its Tim Cook trolling Google/Samsung. He says something about an iWatch and both Google/Samsung spend hundred of millions in development.

    • http://heguy.tumblr.com Kuhnaydeein

      I've been putting off buying anything watch related until Apple brings out whatever they've been working on. And the 'gear' was just another sedative that made waiting so much easier…

  • casper

    If this is the best they can do they should should stay out of the business of producing any type of consumer product.

  • SockRolid

    Dog. Butt. Ugly.
    Ever so appropriate.

  • Ben

    Here's what I don't get. Every stylish watch I've seen in the past decade has had mechanical hands, and had a round face. Every "smart watch" I've seen has a square, bitmapped face. Square, digital watches haven't been cool since early 1990's middle school lunchrooms.

    How exactly do they propose to make it stylish? Are they going to make it round and mechanical, or do they think they can predict (or redefine) fashion this year?

  • g

    I think its wonderful - Please move forward on this design... love it!!!!

  • Blue Sun

    What you stated was the button on the side of the device, I think, it is really the headphone jack. It looks very similar to my existing Motoactv headphone jack port.

  • sigaba
  • dieniggerdie

    Yawnsies

  • josh80

    Looks like something from the '90s.

  • Zimmerman

    I'm waiting for the watch with 7 day plus battery, heart rate monitoring, sleep pattern monitoring, distance traveled, wifi, android, a micro sim tray, and normal digital clock features such as timer and alarm clock. It has to be extremely slim and fashionable.

  • Simon Belmont

    Hoping to see a Google/Nexus watch at I/O this year. I've been holding off on buying a smartwatch because I wanted a Google sourced one.

    It'd be great to just throw voice commands at my watch via Google Now/Search. Can't wait.