Google kept its promise. Last week, Google exec Sundar Pichai announced at SXSW that Google would be releasing an Android SDK for wearables within two weeks, and it will indeed be released this week. In the meantime, Google has revealed Android Wear to the world, and it’s glorious—AND Google is actually making an effort to make sure Android Wear smartwatches don’t look like an old brick-sized 1980s-era cellphone strapped to your wrist.
Android Wear is an operating system designed specifically for wearables, so the possibilities could include everything from watches to clothing, but for now, Google is sticking with the obvious: smartwatches.
Android Wear looks eerily similar to Google Glass, minus the creep factor and the winky picture-taking (which also sounds creepy). Most of the features are voice driven, so you can receive texts and reply by speaking your message into the phone. Or you can activate different features by saying things like “okay, Google” (a la “Okay, Glass”) or “Reply,” etc. Android Wear comes with Google Now, so getting information on nearby restaurants, calling a taxi, making reservations, or sending a text can all be done with voice commands.
You can also use Android Wear to control and access other Android devices, like choosing a song from your playlist on your phone, or starting a movie on your TV.
The wearable OS is being marketed with the tagline “Information that moves with you,” and indeed, there is a lot of location- and movement-based technology going on here. Android Wear has GPS features that give you directions, let you know when you’re near your destination, how many minutes to your destination, and so on. And of course, there are fitness features as well, including summaries, speed, distance, time, and reminders.
Google is working with several CE manufacturers to produce a wide range of new smartwatches—some of which actually look pretty damn good. The list of manufacturers currently includes Motorola, LG, HTC, Asus, and Samsung. Google is also working with chip makers Broadcom, Imagination, Intel, Mediatek and Qualcomm. And to make the watches not crazy ugly, Google is working with fashion brands like the Fossil Group. Indeed, some of the watches in the promos look damn stylish—not like big ass phones on your wrist.
“We're always seeking new ways for technology to help people live their lives and this is just another step in that journey. Here’s to getting the most out of the many screens you use every day—whether in your car, in your pocket or, very soon, on your wrist,” wrote Sundar Pichai in a blog post.