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Google reveals Android Wear initiative, opens up developer preview

updated 01:36 pm EDT, Tue March 18, 2014

Wearable device operating system to first arrive on smart watches

Google has announced its operating system software for wearable devices, called Android Wear. Hinted at during a South by Southwest interview by head of Android and Chrome Sundar Pichai, the software will allow hardware producers to build devices, such as smart watches, with the platform claimed to offer many of the functions typically associated with smart devices, but with a Google twist.

Devices running Android Wear will be able to provide the user an interface with Android applications, such as notifications and live updates from fitness apps for speed, distance, and time. Google Voice Search will let users set appointments and ask questions from their wrist, just as it offers on smartphones, while Google Now-style notifications will warn the user of suggestions they may need at that moment in time, such as a warning about jellyfish if the wearer is at a beach. It is also suggested Android Wear could be used to control apps on other devices, like navigating through a playlist on a nearby smartphone or controlling Chromecast.

As part of the unveiling, Google's added a section on the Android Developer website dedicated to Android Wear. Developers can download a preview, allowing them to work on tailoring existing app notifications so they will work with Android Wear, with Pichai advising in a blog post that more developer resources and APIs will be on the way.

So far, Google is said to be working with Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola, and Samsung on devices, as well as with Broadcom, Imagination, Intel, Mediatek, and Qualcomm, and fashion brands including the Fossil Group, to release Android Wear-powered smart watches later this year.

While the extent of Google's work with the companies is unknown, there have already been some movements in the product category. Samsung and Qualcomm already have some experience with smart watches, with the Gear and the Toq respectively, though Samsung moved away from Android and into Tizen with its recent releases.

A report in late February claimed Google was working on a smart watch with LG, though it was not clear if the watch is a Nexus-style Google device or one that would remain LG branded. LG has since teased the fruits of its labors in a simultaneous announcement for the G Watch.

by MacNN Staff



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