This year is shaping up to be the year of wearable devices, and more specifically, the year of the smartwatch, with every major smartphone maker constantly rumoured to be making their own device, and some already well entrenched in the space.
Although there are many smartwatches already on the market, there are two major players that everyone seems to be waiting for. With the constant rumours surrounding a possible “iWatch”, it seemed Apple may be gearing up to take a major step into the wearables game, but now, Google may have beat them to the punch.
Google announced yesterday that it was releasing a developer preview of Android Wear, an extension to Android specifically designed to run on wearables, and included some video previews of devices running “Wear” in action. The announcement also stated that Google are already working with a selection of electronics manufacturers such as LG, Motorola and Samsung, as well as fashion brands like Fossil.
Most smartwatches require a connection to a phone or tablet to provide a lot of their functionality, such as Pebble, one of the most popular smartwatches around today. Pebble also includes standalone apps and an app store to add functionality in the Find out more about upgrading your browser here… No relation of the tuber-like Jerusalem artichoke, the globe artichoke is considered to be the ‘true’ artichoke and is the bud of a large member of the thistle family. same way a smartphone does and it mostly does a good job, but is severely limited by the fact that apps on the connected device have to be specifically designed to interface with the watch, meaning that most apps simply don’t work.
Samsung’s Galaxy Gear line of watches is yet to prove itself as a good alternative to Pebble and others. With a built in camera and the ability to make phone calls directly from the watch, it has more standalone features, but this makes it more expensive than the Pebble, and also has a large detriment on battery life. There’s also the requirement that the connection must be to a Samsung phone.
Android Wear takes a different approach to both of these and is based around Google’s personal assistant software Google Now combined with Android’s built in notifications. When connected to an existing Android device, Wear will display all of its notifications and allow users to take action on them on the connected device without ever touching it. Along with Google Now providing an endless list of voice actions, this provides a wide feature set already. Any app that already uses notifications will automatically work with Android Wear and minimal work is required to optimise the experience further.
This means that your music player, which already displays a notification with media controls, can now be controlled from Android Wear. However, this is just the beginning, and Google promises that once Android Wear is officially launched, there will be more ways to add functionality through connected apps.
Top this all off with announcements from both LG and Motorola about incoming smartwatches with Android Wear, Google are looking to be moving very quickly indeed to conquer the wearable market. If Motorola’s stunning looking Moto 360 is anything to go by, they may just have a chance.