Google may have just figured out smartwatches--and other wearables, too. The somewhat mysterious wearables SDK that Google’s Sundar Pichai mentioned briefly just days ago isn’t coming until later this year, but Google did announce a rather important precursor with Android Wear.
Essentially, Android Wear is a unique UI, and it’s actually an extension of Android rather than a whole new OS. And it looks spot-on in terms of what people seem to want in a smartwatch--it’s clean, bright, simple, and designed specifically for that tiny watch form factor.
Motorola Moto 360
At a glance and/or with a simple flick, you can see the time of day, check the weather, peek at the news, and more. You can also receive messages and social media updates, view calendar events, and use voice commands.
There are also health and fitness monitoring capabilities, and Android Wear lets you control other devices such as your phone or TV from your wrist.
There’s already a Developer Preview available, but we’ll have to wait until later this year for the full Android Wear SDK. A number of partners are slated to participate with Android Wear, including ASUS, Samsung, LG, Intel, Motorola, HTC, and Fossil.
In fact, Motorola has already announced an Android Wear device with the Moto 360, which is coming this summer. Judging from the promo video, there’s not a product ready to launch yet--maybe there’s a prototype--but Motorola is definitely looking to create a classy, iconic, eminently wearable timepiece here that it’s designed just for tech nerds.
One of the biggest problems with smartwatch adoption is that few, if any, have been so compelling that the average person feels he must have it. Google looks like it’s getting a lot closer to that place with Android Wear, and it certainly will once devs get cranking with the SDK, but what’s perhaps the best part about Android Wear is that it’s not tied to any one device. The imaginations and engineering prowess of a variety of companies will propel the platform forward.
What’s more, smartwatches are just the beginning. There’s a reason that Google didn’t call this a “smartwatch SDK” or “Android Smartwatch”; the company (which if you’ll recall also makes a notable wearable called Google Glass) has its sights set on an entire ecosystem of wearable devices.