The new smartwatch looks a lot like the first G Watch R and appears to have the same dimensions as its predecessor, but comes with a brushed metal finish, a premium leather band, and three crowns on the side, instead of just one.
According to the Audi executive, this is a G Watch running the next version of Android Wear and will make its debut at Mobile World Congress this March. We can’t confirm if it is a SIM-enabled watch, like some rumors suggest, but the version of Android Wear installed on it clearly has a full apps menu with a cascading menu of app icons that looks a lot like the new “Material Design” style of Android Lollipop. LG’s new Android phone interfaces mirror this look, so it could also be a design that’s modified by LG, but the executive did tell us that it was a new version of Wear. Either way, this watch had a working, and very pretty, apps menu for easier navigation — solving one of Android Wear’s biggest problems.
The watch also has an NFC chip inside it, which allowed Audi to use it as a virtual key fob. With a wave of your wrist on the side of a concept Audi car, its door magically opens. Audi hopes to use smartwatches and other wearables as a definitive way to unlock and customize vehicle functions for authorized drivers. Unlike a phone, it’s more difficult for someone to nab your watch off your wrist (but not impossible). Algorithms that can determine who you are based on things like heart rate could also help alleviate the fear of car theft.
The model we saw was equipped with a special Audi Android Wear watch face that showed some vital stats for a concept car.
We’ve reached out to LG to learn more about the supposed G Watch R2, but have not heard back yet. The company is also rumored to have a smartwatch based on WebOS in development this year. This was not that watch, but it looks like 2015 will be an interesting, very wearable year for LG.
Updated at 8:18pm on 1-07-2015 by Jeff: No one seems to know what’s going on with this device. An LG representative has informally denied that this is the next LG watch, and Android Central claims that it is running WebOS. This conflicts directly with what the Audi executive told us, but without any official confirmation, we do not know. Either way, the design appears to follow LG’s Android Lollipop interface style and we love the new menu structure. We’re still hoping that LG will reveal this watch, or one like it, at Mobile World Congress.