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Google, Nokia smart watches rumored, as Samsung ponders Gear refresh

Nokia and Google are rumored to be working on their own smart watch devices for release in the near future, while a representative from Samsung has reportedly admitted that his company's latest offering in that field could use some improvement.

Leaked photos supposedly showing part of a Nokia smart watch. Image via CTech.

Google is widely believed to be working on its own smart watch, a belief bolstered by the recent revelation that the search giant bought a smart watch maker last year. Now Android Police's Artem Russakovskii has noted on his Google+ page reports that Google's smart watch will see release this year.

Russakovskii believes that the device will be part of Google's line of Nexus devices, which run a pure version of Android without the user interface "skins" that other manufacturers typically put over Google's mobile platform. While noting that the rumor is unverifiable, Russakovskii says that the device is codenamed "Gem," and that it will debut later this month alongside the newest Nexus devices and the latest version of Android, KitKat.

As Google is thought to be prepping its own offering for an increasingly crowded smart watch segment, images have emerged showing what is said to be the main body component for a Nokia smart watch. The images showed up in September on CTech a Chinese blog site known for leaking pre-release hardware. They show portions of a watch face with Nokia branding and little else. The component shown has irregular spacing in the holes where a watch band would connect, meaning that it could be either a prototype or a fake.

The component appears to be composed of the same polycarbonate material Nokia uses in its Lumia line of Windows Phone devices. It also seems to have a curved underbody of the sort expected for a device meant to be worn on the wrist.

Nokia is in the midst of a long turnaround following several years of declining sales and revenues. Caught unprepared for the rise of Samsung and Apple, Nokia eventually joined with Microsoft on the Windows Phone platform, but the firm has still struggled to carve out a significant market share. Microsoft eventually bought Nokia in early September, and the software giant was already believed to be working on its own smart watch device, so the future of the alleged Nokia device — if it is indeed real — is uncertain.

Offerings from Google and Nokia would enter an arena already populated by Sony, Pebble, and others. The largest player in the growing smart watch segment would be Samsung, which recently released its Galaxy Gear device to largely negative reviews. Samsung is already rumored to be working on a follow-up to the device, one that would address the widespread criticisms that plagued the first version.

The South Korean tech giant is believed to have rushed production of Gear this year, following rumors that Apple was preparing to release its own "iWatch" in the near future. Samsung's device had reportedly already been in development since 2011, but the rushed process this year may have led to many of the flaws that caused so many poor reviews.

Speaking with The Korea Times, an unnamed Samsung official admitted that Gear was a subpar offering, saying that the company could do better.

“We’ve acknowledged that our Gear lacks something special. With more investment for user interface and user experience, Samsung devices will be better in terms of customer satisfaction,” the official said.