Google acquires Cronologics smartwatch OS startup, founded by ex-employees
The next version of Android Wear won’t come out until early 2017, but Google is still doing what it can to improve its wearable OS in the meantime. The company just acquired Cronologics, a smartwatch OS startup that created the Amazon Alexa-equipped CoWatch. According to an announcement on Cronologics’ website, those at the company will join the Android Wear team at Google to “help grow the portfolio of watches” running the system.
Cronologics dates to 2014 when Lan Roche, Leor Stern, and John Lagerling started the company; all three had previously worked at Google. Cronologics’ first device was the CoWatch, which was billed as the first smartwatch to incorporate Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. CoWatch users could speak to the device on their wrist, asking it to do things like call an Uber, order pizza, and a number of other things you can do using Alexa on an Amazon device like the Echo. As of today, the CoWatch Indiegogo campaign has raised nearly $300,000—but with the company now under the Google umbrella, the fate of the CoWatch is up in the air.
The biggest thing to note about the CoWatch in the midst of this acquisition is that it runs a “brand new Cronologics OS”—not Android Wear—and is fully compatible with Android and iOS devices. Judging by the promotional videos on the campaign website, the OS looks like a mix of Google’s and Apple’s wearable operating systems: interchangeable watchfaces, some with small complication-esque buttons that provide easy access to onboard apps; activity tracking software including a built-in heart rate monitor; voice commands; and more.
Android Wear watches already respond to the “OK Google” voice command and can provide answers to questions that can be looked up via the search engine. It’s possible that Google wants to use Cronologics’ expertise in integrating voice commands into wearables to flesh out that feature in Android Wear. It’s also likely that Google wants to examine Cronologics’ wearable OS and maybe incorporate some of its features into Android Wear.
But Cronologics’ statement is interesting, as it says it’s excited to “help grow the portfolio” of Android Wear-powered devices. The CoWatch did have a few impressive hardware features, including 8GB of storage, a super AMOLED display, a stainless steel body, and a 300mAh battery that could supposedly last up to 32 hours on a single charge. It’s possible that Google may want to build another smartwatch of its own in addition to getting more OEMs to buy into Android Wear for their wearable devices.
The details of Google’s acquisition of Cronologics have not been disclosed.