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Android Wear has disappointing birth, but 2015 will be better

Google’s smartwatch OS has endured a laboured start according to research firm Canalys, with a measly 720,000 devices shipped in 2014. But the future is still bright for Android Wear, despite some heavy incoming competition…

Although a slew of big-name Android Wear devices hit stores before the end of 2014, including the Samsung Gear Live and LG G Watch R, combined they sold well under a million units last year. That’s just 15% of the 4.6 million wearables shipped throughout 2014.

Analysts for the firm claim that poor battery life is the leading cause of people’s caution, while an absence of quality apps for the platform has also been cited as a cause for concern.

The lack of decent apps is a hard one to dispute right now, but it’s also a problem that’s already being fixed as new apps emerge every week. As for battery life, it’s guilty as charged. If people want a fitness device to track their motions, they’re better off going for a dedicated exercise wristband which lasts a week or two per charge, rather than a smartwatch which dies every night.

Canalys’ research also showed that Motorola’s Moto 360 is the current leading light in the world of Android Wear smartwatches, and also noted that LG’s G Watch R performed significantly better than the company’s original G Watch. From that, it’s all too obvious to suggest that people probably aren’t sold on bulky square watch faces, opting instead for a more traditional rounded design.

Pebble was outed as Android Wear’s biggest competitor during Canalys’ digging. The firm found that the device, which was originally funded by Kickstarter, shipped over 1 million units from its initial launch in 2013 through ‘til the end of 2014.

Things aren’t going to get any easier for Google. The company’s biggest rival, Apple, has its own Apple Watch coming out in April and whether the device is as afflicted with issues as reports claim or not, people will flock to buy it, simply because it’s an Apple product. HTC also has a proprietary watch on the horizon, if reports are correct, which could be the first to sport a flexible screen.

However, we’re more than confident that the upcoming crop of next-gen wearables will up Android Wear’s stake in the market. Sophomore efforts from the likes of Samsung and Motorola are expected to drop, sporting fresh, slender designs, while Asus is working on the ZenWatch 2 which could boast an incredible week of battery life between charges.

As hardware improves and progresses, so too will software. An influx of useful, intuitive and creative apps would do Google’s wearable OS a great service, but the platform needs to offer features that the likes of Apple Watch can’t to stay ahead of the competition.

Are you on the fence about Android Wear? What features or design aspects would tempt you to splash your cash? Let us know in the comments below.

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