Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Google details 'Android Wear' wearables platform

It's official: On Tuesday, Google pulled the wraps off Android Wear, the modified version of its mobile Android operating system, which is a platform for wearables. It's unclear if Google will move this to its Google Glass product, as well, but the initial push, Google said in a blog post, is watches.

Consumers won't have to wait long for a device, either. LG will introduce its G Watch next quarter. Motorola teased a Moto 360 smartwatch, also powered by Android Wear, launching this summer in a form factor that is more like a regular watch than an Galaxy Gear.

Others have released smartwatches already, including Qualcomm, Sony, and Samsung have released them. Apple is rumored to be working on one. Samsung's first Galaxy Gear smartwatch was based on Android, but it switched to Tizen for its Galaxy Gear 2. As a hardware partner in the effort, along with LG, Asus, HTC, and Motorola, does this mean yet another 180 degree turn in Samsung smartwatch development?

In addition to its hardware partners, Google announced Broadcom, Imagination, Intel, MediaTek, and Qualcomm as chip partners. Interestingly, the Fossil Group said it would will bring Android Wear-powered watches to market later this year.

Android Wear will heavily leverage Google's Now voice-recognition technology, as you might expect. You will just say “Ok Google” to wake up your device, and then ask questions like "Where is the nearest BART station?" or "Where is the cheapest gas in the area?" You can also schedule an appointment, send a text, set an alarm or take a note, among other functions.

Exact date and pricing for these devices are unknown.

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