Google, Samsung compete for smart watch developers

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and partner Samsung Electronics collaborate on smartphones and tablets, but when it comes to smart watches, the two companies are going to be vying for developers.

lg g watch android wear smart watch

LG's Android Wear-powered G Watch is scheduled for release in the second quarter.

Google named Samsung as a partner for its Android Wear initiative for wearable computers on Tuesday, alongside Asus, HTC, LG Electronics and Motorola Mobile, which Google is in the process of selling to Lenovo for $2.91 billion. However, Samsung's latest Galaxy Gear watches run on the open-source, Linux-based Tizen operating system, not Android.

On Monday, Samsung published a Tizen Software Development Kit for its new Gear smart watches. The company's new Gear watches, called the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo, support Tizen; Android runs the first-generation Samsung Galaxy Gear. As the Wall Street Journal notes, the Tizen SDK comes with a wide range of functions for developers to exploit, including mapping, photo-taking, social media and fitness.

One of Google's key objectives with releasing Android Wear is to get developers to make apps that can work on watches and other wearables, and also to standardize their development, thus lowering the barrier to entry. "We designed Android Wear to bring a common user experience and a consistent developer platform to this new generation of devices," Austin Robison of Google's Android Wear team wrote in a company blog post. "We can't wait to see what you will build."

Developers can now download an Android Wear Developer Preview to make existing apps work with watches powered by Android Wear. Google has said developers should look out for additional developer resources and APIs soon.

As for Android Wear-powered devices, LG plans to release the G Watch in the second quarter, and Motorola's watch, the Moto 360, is expected to come out this summer.

IBB Consulting analyst Jefferson Wang told FierceWireless that the competition in smart watches really comes down to "who can build with the strongest ecosystem of developers, platform and manufacturers."

Wang said it made sense for Samsung to push Tizen to wearables first because it would be easier to crack that market with a new platform than a more mature market like smartphones. "They had to make that switch to try and make Tizen work," he said.

Presumably, Wang said, Samsung is working in parallel tracks with watches and is waiting to see which ecosystem will win out. "Samsung is large enough and talented enough to be able to hedge their bets and try both," he said.

For Google, Wang said, making Android Wear something that is familiar to developers will be key so that they can quickly develop apps for the platform.

For more:
- see this Google blog post
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Samsung blog post

Related Articles:
Google unveils Android Wear software for smart watches, other wearables
Samsung unveils Galaxy Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo smart watches, running Tizen
HTC banks on One smartphone successor and its first wearables for 2014 turnaround
Google buys Nest Labs for $3.2B to get foothold in Internet of Things
Gartner: Wearables, Internet of Things will hasten personalized data sharing
Wearables make a splash at CES 2014, but might not be ready for mass appeal

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