Google finally dipped its toe into the smartwatch pool this week. The company introduced its Android Wear platform, giving hardware partners a base set of software for building new Android wearables. LG and Motorola quickly announced their products would be coming soon with the latter even having a live YouTube video interview to discuss the design process.
So what is Android Wear? Essentially, its a smartwatch interface built largely around Google Now. That means it will provide contextual information at a glance; something I’ve wanted since last year. For some that may not be enough: Certain folks like having a wide variety of smartphone apps on their wrist or would prefer their smartwatch double as a phone for voice calls or to take pictures. Those features may come to some Android Wear devices but it looks like the initial batch will keep the experience simple and focus mainly on combining strong design with Google Now.
You can see that in the software itself, which is available in a developer preview. This video by Dom Esposito shows what to expect, at least in this preview version of Android Wear:
In terms of actual devices, the LG G Watch and Motorola Moto 360 are on the way. LG says it expects to offer the G Watch in the second quarter of this year while the Moto 360 is expected this summer. Looking at the two you can see one huge difference: The G Watch is rectangular while the Moto 360 is round: Unique for a smartwatch but obviously very common in the watch-wearing world.
While LG hasn’t shared many details, Motorola held a live video interview this week with Motorola’s head of Consumer Experience Design, Jim Wicks. He didn’t provide a close up look at the Moto 360, but was interacting with one on his wrist. He also shared a few details about the watch that weren’t initially provided. For example, the round face is roughly 46 millimeters in diameter and the face will auto-rotate so you can wear it on either wrist.
As a big fan and heavy user of Google Now, I’m looking forward to the Android Wear devices. Google’s massive amount of user data is something no other company can match with a wearable, which could be a blessing and a curse. On the plus side — and the reason I use the services — is the value of useful information at just the right time and place. On the other hand, those who don’t use Google services because they don’t want to give information about themselves to the company won’t benefit from Android Wear smartwatches and will likely pass on the products.