Google gave a developer’s tour of Android Wear at I/O, its smartwatch platform. It won’t substitute your smartphone, but it is Google Now for the wrist, with a heavy emphasis on managing an Android devices and serving convenient notifications.
At Google’s annual I/O developer’s conference in San Francisco, Director of Android Engineering David Singleton gave first long look of Android Wear, which was first announced in the past spring.
The importance of the preview was on how developers should make apps for Google’s new wearable accessory platform. Android Wear is visualized as a compliment to an Android phone, and developers can use the same tools that they use for Android phones/tablets. “We want a seamless experience on these screens,” SVP Sundar Pichai said. “We’re making everything contextually aware and voice enabled.”
As expected, Android Wear is a lot similar to Google Now on the wrist. Using the hot term “OK Google” to trigger an action, you can talk to your smartwatch and set reminders for later. Like Google Now, the smartwatch can display QR codes, which can be utilized as a boarding pass. And obviously, Android Wear has a deep emphasis on context-aware notifications.
Singleton demonstrated a few scenarios while showing off Android Wear on the LG G Watch. It has a always-on display. When waking up, a Android Wear user could swipe through cards on the smartwatch that shows the weather, travel time to work, and a package notification; mainly, everything the user needs to know to start her day. Android Wear is heavily dependent on location based alerts, which are already available on Android phones, but also make a lot of logic on the wrist.
On receiving the call, user can swipe up on Android Wear to send a SMS response, or accept or reject the call. If you don’t want any notifications, there’s a Do Not Disturb mode triggered by swiping down from the top of the watch screen. The Android Wear devices should also be able to play and pause music, control an Android TV, and basically act like a suitable remote control for an Android device.
Later, we got a glance at the Moto 360, which is an Android Wear device with a circular screen. One of the early apps for it is Eat24, which allows users to order a pizza — or other takeout — from their smartwatch.
Google also announced Google Fit, fitness tracking service meant to compete with Apple’s Healthkit.Some of the initial partners supporting Google Fit include Adidas, Basis, Nike, RunKeeper, and Withings. Google will release an SDK in the coming weeks so developers can integrate Google Fit into their Android apps.
One of the biggest shocker surrounding Android Wear is that it won’t have its own app store. Instead, traditional Android apps could add wearable functions to their already existing apps on Google Play. When installing an Android app on the phone, Google Play will automatically install and update the associated smartwatch app.
The LG G Watch and Samsung’s Android Wear device — now labeled Samsung Gear Live are available on Google Play.They are priced at 14,999₹ and 15,900₹ respectively. The Moto 360 will be available “later this summer.”
Overall, Android Wear is largely what we thought it was: an system heavily dependent on contextual information for getting Google Now onto the wrist, heavily dependent on contextual information. “People check their Android phones an average of 125 times every day,” Singleton said. Android Wear is looking to cut that number down. Android Wear preview: Is this the answer to Apple"s Healthkit?