Google unveils Android Wear software for smart watches, other wearables

As expected, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) released a specific version of its Android mobile software designed for wearable computing, called Android Wear, putting the company firmly in support of wearables like smart watches. LG Electronics and Motorola Mobile have confirmed they will release watches running the new software.

motorola moto 360 smartwatch android wear

Motorola will release its Android Wear-powered Moto 360 smart watch this summer.

Sundar Pichai, Google's senior vice president of Android and Chrome, wrote in a company blog post that Android Wear is starting with watches. "We're only at the beginning; we've barely scratched the surface of what's possible with mobile technology," he wrote. "That's why we're so excited about wearables--they understand the context of the world around you, and you can interact with them simply and efficiently, with just a glance or a spoken word."

Pichai wrote that Android Wear "shows you info and suggestions you need, right when you need them." This, Google said, will let devices send users the latest posts and updates from social networking apps, chats from messaging apps, notifications from shopping, news and photography apps and other notifications. The software uses the "OK Google" command, which is the activation prompt for Google's own Touchless Control service.

Android Wear is also integrating with health and fitness apps, and can also let users access and control services and content on their phones and TVs.

By standardizing how sensors from wearables send information to and interface with Android, Google is aiming to make it more palatable for developers to make wearables running the platform.

Source: Google

Google's isn't alone in targeting wearables, of course. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is rumored to be working on wearable computing designs, perhaps with a focus on fitness. According to a recent 9to5Mac report, Apple's focus on healthcare and fitness tracking will be manifested in an iOS application codenamed Healthbook. The app will have categories for bloodwork, heart rate, hydration, blood pressure, physical activity, nutrition, blood sugar, sleep, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation and weight. Apple is widely believed to be working on its own smart watch, which could interact with the Healthbook app.

Other vendors that have already released smart watches include Samsung, Sony and Huawei.

As for Google's new Android Wear, developers can now download an Android Wear Developer Preview to make existing apps work with watches powered by Android Wear. Pichai said developers should "look out for more developer resources and APIs coming soon." Google is working with several large OEMs and partners for Android Wear, including Asus, HTC, LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics and Motorola Mobile, which Google is in the process of selling to Lenovo for $2.91 billion.

Google is also working with chipset makers Broadcom, Imagination, Intel, MediaTek and Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), as well as fashion brands like the Fossil Group "to bring you watches powered by Android Wear later this year."

Indeed, Motorola and LG announced that they will make watches running Android Wear. LG's will be called the G Watch, and, according to Engadget, it is expected to be released sometime in the second quarter. "The opportunity to work with Google on LG G Watch was the perfect chance for LG to really pull out all stops in both design and engineering," Dr. Jong-seok Park, CEO of LG's Mobile Communications division, said in a statement. "We're confident that a well-designed device has the potential to take the smart wearable market by storm."

Motorola's watch will be called the Moto 360, and Motorola said that "all the core components are technically brand new," but it's unclear what functionality it will have. Motorola said its watch will be available in a "variety of styles globally" this summer.

For more:
- see this Google blog post
- see this The Verge article
- see this separate The Verge article
- see this Pocket-Lint article

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Google to release SDK to get Android into 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
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