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Google Android Wear: Everything You Need to Know

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 6 comments

Google's Android OS is coming to smartwatches. Here's everything there is to know about Android Wear!

What is it?

The first generation Galaxy Gear gave us a little taste of Android on our wrists, but Google is taking things in a whole different direction with Android Wear, a dedicated Android build for wearable devices.

Android Wear is for all wearables, but Google is focusing on smartwatches for the moment. With Android Wear on your wrist you’ll get information and suggestions based on the time and your location as well as updates from Facebook, Twitter, instant messages, notifications, and news. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a smartwatch if it couldn’t also monitor your exercise and health, so Android Wear enables that functionality too, giving real-time speed, distance and time for running, cycling or walking.

Similar to Google Glass or Google Now, Android Wear answers questions that start with the prompt, "OK Google." No more taking out your phone to send a text, set an alarm, make a reservation, or call a cab! This same prompt is also used to complete numerous other actions, like pulling up playlists or casting content to your TV.

What does it look like?

It's Android, but it's not Android like you have on your phone. The watch form factor is very different to that of a smartphone, so it stands to reason that the Android on your wrist not quite match the Android in your pocket in terms of user interface.

Google has designed a whole new UI for Android Wear, putting Google Now front and center and highlighting contextual information and voice activated functionality. The idea is to make all the information you might need at any point during the day easily accessible, so weather, meetings, travel times, and updates are just a swipe away, and directions, recommendations, and messaging are all easily executed via speech. Check the video below for an idea of how Google sees watches running Android Wear fitting into your life:

Android Wear

Who is making it?

Google's got the software, but it's useless without hardware. Today, LG and Motorola announced their own watches. The former is the G Watch, and LG is promising it will be a low barrier to entry for developers, so hopefully that means it will be cheap. Other than mentioning that it worked closely with Google on the development of the device, LG didn’t offer much details on hardware and specifications, promising those details would be unveiled in the coming months.

Motorola’s offering is round and dubbed the Moto 360. It looks unlike any of the smartwatches we’ve seen over the last year or so and is very sleek. Again, not a whole lot of specifics on specs, but those will come a little bit closer to launch.

Moto 360

Fossil has also made its intentions known, releasing a statement saying it’s working with Google to support the extension of Android via Android Wear. Though Fossil didn’t dish details, this show of support is proof that Android Wear appeals to both fashion and technology companies. Google also mentioned it’s working with HTC, Asus, and Samsung as well as chip makers Broadcom, Imagination, Intel, Mediatek, and Qualcomm.

Developers will also obviously play a big role in Android Wear, and Google is expecting devs to really run with the wearables idea and create new experiences unique to the smartwatch form factor. A preview SDK is being released this week. This will allow developers of Android apps to extend their experience to the smartwatch and will ensure a healthy number of Android Wear-friendly apps when launch rolls around.

Android Wear Developer Preview

When can I have it?

Not yet is the short answer. LG says it will release more information about its watch 'in the coming months' while Motorola is targeting a summer 2014 launch. Based on that timeline, we're expecting Google I/O to focus on Android Wear and with perhaps some more information about the above devices thrown in for good measure. Google I/O is the last week of June so mark your calendars!

Follow Jane McEntegart @JaneMcEntegart. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

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  • 0 Hide
    bustapr , March 18, 2014 3:27 PM
    seems like a neat idea and a good direction for google to take with their os and expand their business with in an area of large public interest, but Im not really interested yet. Unless they make one of those watches with battery life that lasts a few weeks and doesnt noticably change temperature after a few minutes use, I wont be interested. I hope the fonts can be modified because the default(?) font on the time is too small.
  • 0 Hide
    knowom , March 18, 2014 7:51 PM
    The title of this article is interesting if you take it out of context it a bit and yet fairly accurate. Google Android - Wear everything you need to know ;)  Sounds like a slogan to me I mean what can't you Google search for honestly?You sort of wear your phone in your pocket like a wallet which you can shop from or android watch on your wrist or Google glasses on your face.
  • -2 Hide
    somebodyspecial , March 19, 2014 2:42 AM
    I don't see how these will sell well. Everyone already carries a phone with far more power and functionality, so what is the point? You're duplicating what I can already do in a crappier mode here and on a device I wouldn't even want to read as much as my already hated cellphone...LOL. Anything under 5in today isn't even in my vocabulary. In tablets anything under 13in is no longer in my vocab :) 
  • 0 Hide
    klarkmdb , March 19, 2014 4:01 AM
    Ahhh, i smell skynet. It's a theory... but it always starts with that.
  • -1 Hide
    daekar , March 19, 2014 10:11 AM
    Still trying to figure out who these companies think are going to buy these devices, because it sure isn't anyone I know.
  • 0 Hide
    Reaver192 , March 20, 2014 4:47 AM
    I live a relatively busy life style and travel allot for work. I am constantly bothered by meaningless information and alerts on my phone, but I have to check them all because it could always be a sale and in sales you almost always want to close a deal while the customer still has the urge to purchase fresh on there mind. The smart watch if fashionable could not only make my life easier so I don't have to reach for my LG G2 for every little sound it makes, but if someone included a heart rate monitor and distance tracker in one I would drop tons on it. My movodo can go back in my drawer if a smart watch can do all that and look half as good. In fact I would pay far more than the asking prices I have seen for existing tech if it included the extra functionality.