SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA: South Korea's Samsung and LG have both launched smartwatches powered by Google's new Android Wear software as they jostle to lead an increasingly competitive market for wearable devices seen as the mobile industry's next growth booster.
Samsung's new Gear Live smartwatch is available for pre-order but will only be released in July. Image: Liliputting
Samsung's "Gear Live" and LG's "G Watch" - both powered by Android Wear - are the first devices to adopt the new Google software specifically designed for wearables.
G Watch - LG's first smartwatch - is equipped with Google's voice recognition service and can perform simple tasks including checking email, sending text messages and carrying out an online search at users' voice command.
The two devices cannot make phone calls by themselves but can be connected to many of the latest Android-based smartphones, the South Korean companies said in separate statements.
Samsung and LG are the world's top and fourth-largest smartphone manufacturers, respectively.
A typical smartwatch allows users to make calls, receive texts and e-mails, take photos and access apps.
LG's new G Watch is also available for pre-order. Image: Android News
G Watch is available for online pre-order in 12 countries including the United States, France and Japan and will go on sale in 27 more countries including Brazil and Russia by early July.
Gear Live is also available for online pre-order.
The launches come as global handset and software makers step up efforts to diversify from the saturated smartphone sector to wearable devices.
Samsung introduced its Android-based Galaxy Gear smartwatch last year but it was given a lukewarm reception by consumers.
The second edition, Gear II, was unveiled in February, based on Samsung's own Tizen softwear in a move to break free from its reliance on Google's Android platform.
Samsung's arch rival Apple is believed to be set to launch its own smartwatch soon, while Google is moving towards a wide consumer launch of its Google Glass later this year.
Chinese smartphone maker Huawei also unveiled a connected watch called TalkBand.
Global smartwatch sales are expected to grow this year by more than 500% from 1.9m units in 2013, according to the market researcher Strategic Analytics.
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