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Google reportedly gearing up for 2014 Android smartwatch launch

Google has remained tight-lipped about plans to launch a branded smartwatch, but a new report tips another wearable gadget from the search giant by early 2014.

According to The Wall Street Journal, which cites people familiar with the matter, Google's smartwatch is in late-stage development, and could be ready for mass production "within months."

Powered by the Android mobile operating system, the device will reportedly integrate the Google Now personal assistant system, and is being built to reduce power consumption and eliminate the need for frequent charging.

Like Samsung's Galaxy Gear connected wristwatch, the yet-unnamed Google gadget will communicate with smartphones and tablets to sync information like travel schedules.

Rumours of a Google smartwatch emerged in March, around the time Samsung revealed plans for its own timepiece — which was, at the time, expected to rival Apple's still-unannounced "iWatch."

Google last year won a patent for a wristband device with a flip-up display, a camera, wireless connectivity, and a tactile user interface — the very definition of a smartwatch.

In late August, meanwhile, Google acquired wearable tech firm WIMM Labs. "WIMM Labs not only gives Google the talent and technology to build a smartwatch," the firm said at the time, "but actually an Android-based app platform tailored for consumers' wrists."

The devices have yet to catch on, though. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Pebble has rolled out new features, but must now compete with the likes of Samsung.

Its Galaxy Gear smartwatch launched earlier this month, with a hefty price tag and limited compatibility. Less than 30 days later, a leaked document reported that the Korean company's smartwatch had reached an "overall return rate" of more than 30 per cent.

With or without a connected watch, Google has already embraced wearable tech with Google Glass.