Google launches Android smartwatches from Samsung, LG

Smartwatch smackdown

Just about everything from Internet TV to wearable technology is a battle between Apple and Google. And being first to strike on a product, doesn't necessarily mean you've won the war.

When it comes to smart wearable devices or wearables, Google is hoping to get the jump on Apple. The portal began offering two new smartwatches through the Google Play store earlier Monday.

A Samsung smartwatch, called Gear Live, runs on Android Wear, which is Google's new operating system for wearables. The watch also is voice activated. For example, you can say "OK Google" to send a message. The device sells for $199.

Attendees view new Samsung Electronics Co. Gear Live watches running the latest edition of Android software during the Google I/O Annual Developers Conference in San Francisco, California.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

A new LG G Watch, which sells for $229, is also powered by the Android Wear platform. Similar to Samsung's device, LG's smartwatch responds to spoken questions such as, "How many calories are in that apple?" and, "What's the score of that baseball game?"

Both wearable devices share many features and functions, and both will ship this week.

To operate both devices, consumers need a smartphone running on Android 4.3 or higher.

But there are important differences between the two wearables.

Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group says Samsung's watch has a better screen and more sensors. LG's watch, however, offers a longer battery life.

Inside both wearables, you will find Qualcomm processors as well as technology from ARM Holdings.

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James Bruce, the director of mobile marketing for ARM Holdings, says that while he's optimistic about the market for wearables, consumers have to feel like the watches are fun and fashionable. Otherwise, demand might not meet expectations.

And expectations for the wearables markets are huge. IDC estimates that more than 19 million wearables will ship in 2014, triple the number last year. By 2018, IDC predicts shipments will grow to about 112 million.

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And the conventional wisdom among analysts is that once Apple jumps into the space, their move would be the real game changer for the smartwatch market.

Apple's entry could happen as early as this fall. We'll have to wait and see what chipmakers are in the iWatch. Apple has not publicly commented on the timing or content of its potential iWatch product.

—By CNBC's Mark Berniker and Josh Lipton