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Google Smartwatch Could Be I/O 2013 Highlight After All, Gmail and Maps Updates Also Coming

With Google’s I/O conference closing in fast, trying to sum up all the rumors from the past week or so concerning possible San Francisco intros would take us… well, basically, the time left to the actual I/O event.

The recent rumor bonanza has starred everything from that mystical X Phone to a second-generation Nexus 7 and from Android 4.3 to 5.0, but one thing we’ve heard very little of has been the Google smartwatch that several tipsters indicated might be in the making not long ago.

Only a concept for now, but maybe soon…

Well, the extremely secretive watch is now back in the rumor mill, courtesy of what Android Authority describes as “sources close to Google”. I know, that’s extremely vague and suspicious, but the author of the story, Nate Swanner of AA, is not usually one to go all crazy with unverified reports.

And call me naïve if you will, but if the guy says the smartwatch is finally “in physical form” and has been showcased to a select group of Google executives in Berlin, Manchester and Mountain View, I tend to give him credence.

Of course, even if that’s all true, it doesn’t necessarily mean the gizmo will be shown to the world this week at I/O. In fact, I’m pretty certain the thing is not ready to enter actual production yet. But if Google chose to demo Project Glass for the first time at last year’s I/O even if the gadget was far from finished, why wouldn’t it do the same thing with the smartwatch?

One possible answer would be that Glass was seen like a game-changing device and an Android-based watch is a little less exciting. On the flipside, rumor has it Apple is prepping a gadget like this too, so it would probably be wise of Google to try to steal the spotlight from Cupertino.

All in all, if you ask me, there’s a good 50% chance we’ll be seeing this gizmo unveiled later this week, but unfortunately mum’s the word on its spec sheet. Not even the manufacturer’s name is known at this time, though chances are Google will look on the inside for help, meaning Motorola’s old hardware division will be in charge of the project.

In (somewhat) unrelated news, two slightly smaller, but also fairly important launches Google might be prepping for I/O are updates to Maps and Gmail for Android. The same unnamed, but trusted Android Authority source told the website the former app will finally some previous iOS-exclusive functions, which will however look “much prettier on Android”.

As for Gmail, the update will apparently be focused on gestures and full screen. A simple swipe from the left will be bringing up the mail account’s main menu, which will give you access to the inbox, sent messages, drafts and so on, while the bottom bar will disappear altogether. Sounds pretty neat, don’t you think?

Via [Android Authority]

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