Google has finally joined the smartwatch game after dabbling in wearable tech with the controversial Google Glass. Just over a day ago, the tech giant teased Android Wear, a mobile operating system built specifically for wearable devices.
Up till now, the wearables game has seen a boom specifically in smartwatches and fitness trackers, with the smartwatch wholly dominated by the Pebble. Samsung’s GALAXY Gear, to some extent, provided some limited competition although the Korean’s first effort didn’t quite live up to its hype. The Gear ran a custom form of Android and featured some limited functionality and connectivity.
The smartwatch re-imagined
With Android Wear, Google will provide a true blue smartwatch platform for developers and vendors to work on. There isn’t a whole lot of details at this point, but Google seems to have the entire thing sussed out based on its concept video.
The concept of Android Wear is simple: focus on a single task at once, while displaying two different things.
Important information appear at the bottom of the screen, while a contextual background or rich info appears in the background. Thanks to the gargantuan Android ecosystem of apps, you’ll be receiving the latest posts and updates from your social networks, chats from messaging apps, notifications from shopping and news, and more.
Like Google Glass, Android Wear centres around Google Now. Similar on your Android smartphone or tablet, simply say, “OK Google” to perform voice searches. You can also control other functions of the device via voice.
Health and fitness will also be an important focus of Android Wear, where apps can give you real-time speed, distance and time information while you’re exercising or moving about.
Slew of hardware to follow
It’s a refreshing and dramatically different look at the smartwatch experience. Motorola and LG showed off their first Android smartwatches – Motorola 360 and LG G Watch.
The Motorola 360 is especially interesting – it deceivingly does not resemble the smartwatch as we know it. In fact it’s probably the most elegant looking smartwatch out there thus far.
Google has released a Developer Preview of Android Wear so developers can tailor existing app notifications for watches, powered by Android Wear.
Google is reportedly already working with ASUS, HTC, LG, Motorola and Samsung, Broadcom, Imagination, Intel, Mediatek and Qualcomm, as well as fashion brands like Fossil Group, to bring Android Wear-powered watches to the market this year.
Things are looking extremely interesting and I’m genuinely excited about the platform and upcoming smartwatches.