Samsung is introducing Gear Live, a smartwatch that runs Google's new operating system for wearables, Android Wear. The Gear Live will be available to preorder from the Google Play Store later today for $199.99, and it'll be available to buy online and at Best Buy stores beginning July 7th. LG's previously announced G Watch will be available to order today for $229, also shipping on July 7th.
The Gear Live looks a lot like the Gear 2, and it even has the same 1.63" Super AMOLED display, dust and water resistance, and heart-rate sensor (though it's lacking a camera). Importantly, the Gear Live will be able to work with any Android phone running version 4.3 or higher — not just Samsung phones. LG's G Watch uses a Snapdragon 400 processor, has a 1.65-inch display, and meets the same level of dust and water resistance as the Gear Live.
Moto 360 still coming later this summer
Android Wear was unveiled as something of a surprise back in March. Since then, both LG and Motorola have been teasing photos and details of their first smartwatches to run it, though few hard details have been given. Motorola's watch, the Moto 360, is planned for release later this summer.
The Gear Live actually marks a return to Android smartwatches for Samsung. Last year, it released the Galaxy Gear, a smartwatch running a modified version of Android. But just half a year later, Samsung abandoned Android for the Tizen operating system when launching the Gear 2.
Making a watch for Android Wear is a seemingly wise decision though. Wear is specifically built to integrate with Android and will likely help to resolve many of the limitations that have plagued Samsung’s first two Wear watches. Not only might that mean less work for Samsung to do on the software front, but it should make the watch a lot more appealing to buyers too.
This sudden and quick push into smartwatches is no coincidence. The space has increasingly become a subject of interest following Pebble's smashing Kickstarter success. And beyond that, Apple is reported to be working on a smartwatch for release later this year — one that's believed to be able to measure aspects of its wearers' health too. That gives Google and others good reason to start getting out ahead. We should see soon how well the first round of Wear devices hold up.
Update June 25th, 2:50PM ET: this article has been updated to include additional information on pricing, availability, and specs of the Gear Live and G Watch.