Android Wear, Google’s notification-oriented smartwatch platform, is widely expected to be officially revealed at Google I/O later this month. A week before Google’s annual developer event, a new video from Google Developers gives us our best look so far at how Android Wear will work in a finished product.
The video, narrated by Timothy Jordan, a Google Developer advocate, is targeted at persuading developers to make services for Google’s wearable device. While the Android Wear SDK is not yet available, the video goes into the basics of how to make apps for the watch when it eventually becomes available, with an emphasis on approaching the platform differently from the phone. “When considering which features of your service you’d like to make available on your wrist, consider this question: what couldn’t we do on the phone we can now do on the wrist.” Jordan said. “What now becomes possible to the user?”
As the video reveals, notifications from an Android phone (or a companion device) will automatically show up on the watch, and notifications with sound or vibration will also buzz on the Android Wear device. But there are a few new Wear-exclusive types of notification that require developer tinkering.
One of those kinds of notifications is what Google is calling Stacks, which appears to be the equivalent of threaded emails for the wrist. Another is Pages, which is the way for an app to display multiple pages of content on Android Wear for notifications that might not fit on the tiny screen. And Replies is self explanatory, which allows users to reply to notifications with their voice. These notification features appear to be handy, but it’s going to be very important to let users customize them so they do not become overwhelmed.
Another feature that the video confirms is an emphasis on voice messaging. Not only can users talk to an Android Wear device with the “OK Google” command, but Android Wear is going to speak to the user as well. “The wearable can talk to the user, think of this as a context stream,” Jordan said. “They are enhanced notifications that matter more because they’re in the right time and place.”
Two Android Wear devices have been announced: LG’s G Watch and Motorola’s Moto 360. Although we now have a pretty good idea of what the software will look like through developer builds and system dumps, and we’ve heard reliable rumors about device specifications, we still don’t know either the official release date or what either device will end up costing. Google’s I/O developer event starts on June 25 in San Francisco, and we’ll probably get the answers then.