It’s been more than two years since Qualcomm last introduced a new smartwatch processor, and Android smartwatches have very much stalled (to a large extent, though certainly not exclusively) because of it. That’s going to change this year as Qualcomm introduces at least two new smartwatch chips. The first one is being announced today, but it isn’t the general-purpose chip we’ve been waiting for: instead, it’s meant just for kids’ watches.The new chip, the Snapdragon Wear 2500, is designed for what Qualcomm sees as an emerging market of smartwatches built around kid’s and parent’s needs. Pankaj Kedia, who leads wearables at Qualcomm, says these watches are meant to give kids the ability to keep learning and connecting with gadgets when they leave the house and find themselves in school, where they aren’t always beside a computer.
The Wear 2500 chip is around a third smaller than prior Wear chips and is supposed to provide slightly better battery life. The chip supports LTE, up to a 5-megapixel camera, location tracking, and plenty of other sensors.
Since it’s meant for kids, it sounds as though it’ll be a less powerful platform than whatever Wear chip Qualcomm is planning next, but Kedia wouldn’t clarify that point or why the 2500 couldn’t be used to make general-purpose watches. “I have a Tesla and a Porsche,” he said. “Both take me from point A to point B, but they’re designed for different use cases. Same kind of thing here.”
There’s one other interesting quirk to the Wear 2500 chip: it isn’t designed to support Wear OS, Google’s smartwatch platform. Instead, it’s meant to be paired with a custom version of Android that Qualcomm has built for kids’ watches. It’s called Android for Kids, and it sounds like it won’t support notifications or an app store; instead, manufacturers will preload it with the apps and games that they think kids and parents will want.