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A closer look at Google's gorgeous smartwatches

Google is finally ready to say what a smartwatch should look like. Earlier today, it gave a first peek at Android Wear, a version of its mobile operating system designed specifically for wearable devices. So far, Google has shown quite a bit of what shape the OS will take when it comes to watches in particular: it imagines Android Wear running on both square and circular displays, and it relies heavily on Google Now to augment the simple swipes that control it.

In Google's vision, a smartwatch is focused on a single task at once, but is often displaying two different things. Critical information is placed on the bottom of the screen, while a contextual background usually appears above it. In some cases, rich information appears in the background too: when using a map, Google Maps will appear in the background while route information is shown on the larger bottom portion of the display.

While Google has only shown Android Wear on concept devices, Motorola and LG both showed off what they say their first Android smartwatches will actually look like too. Altogether, it's a dramatically different look from recent smartwatches — even powerful ones like Samsung's Android-powered Galaxy Gear. And it's a huge shift from what we saw on earlier smartwatches like the Pebble. This is what Google wants the smartwatch to look like, and if hardware manufacturers can keep up with its ambitious vision, anyone who isn't making a watch this capable is going to have a lot to contend with.

Android Wear's first prototypes