Android smartwatches suffer from short battery life and sluggish performance, due to outdated components and slow software updates. But that won’t be the case for kids’ smartwatches when companies start making gadgets powered by Qualcomm’s newly unveiled Snapdragon Wear 2500 CPU.
Your child’s Android watch will be likely be much faster and last longer than yours.
GPS kid trackers have been around for years, using a 2G or 3G connection to let you stay in touch with your child. Qualcomm’s new chip includes a 4G LTE modem to make the next generation of kids’ wearables more reliable for parents who want to be able to see where their children are at any given moment.
This chip is different from the next-gen CPU Qualcomm is rumored to be developing for full-fledged smartwatches running Google’s Wear OS. The 2500 is specifically designed for kid-focused features.
The new features built into this Snapdragon Wear processor include a low-power location-tracking; a version of Android Oreo designed for kids; 14 percent longer battery life than watches using Qualcomm’s older Snapdragon 2100 chip; voice assistant capabilities so kids can ask questions and get quick responses; a 5-megapixel camera for video calls; NFC for making payments at school; and sensors for gesture-based gaming and health-tracking.
“Kid watches are evolving into a messaging, entertainment, learning and fitness platform,” said Pankaj Kedia, Qualcomm’s senior director of wearables. “That is making 4G the name of the game.”
There are currently 10 or so smartwatches for kids that use Qualcomm’s last-gen 2100 chip, which marked Qualcomm's transition from 3G to 4G. Earlier watches, like the LG GizmoGadget on Verizon’s network in the U.S., relied on a 3G-based kid watch platform.
Kedia says Qualcomm expects the number of kids watches to grow with the rollout of Wear 2500, since those devices will become more powerful. Huawei will be the first company to make use of the 2500 with a new watch for kids, though no release date for that watch has been announced.
Each watchmaker will choose which Snapdragon Wear 2500 features to emphasize and how to give parents the controls they need to customize their child’s smartwatch. Qualcomm will release a development kit for hardware manufacturers in the fall.