Watch out Samsung (and you too, Pebble, Sony and the still unrealized Apple), your hold on the smartwatch market is about to get a lot less firm. Announced today, Google has released Android Wear, their platform for developing smartwatches, along with a preview of the Moto 360 smartwatch from Motorola.
While it's a safe bet that Google won't develop any branded hardware in-house, based on the videos above and below, it looks like wearables were a segment of tech that Google retained from their sale of Motorola.
A stark difference from the Tizen (open, Linux-based OS) running Galaxy Gear watches, we can see right off the bat a Google-heavy experience, touting:
- Useful information when you need it most: A large and compatible number of apps will really set these wearables apart, meaning that you'll be able to stay on top of posts and updates with instant notifications from most of your favorite apps.
- Straight answers to spoken questions: Using Google Now's "OK Google" command, you can ask questions about calories counts, flight information, sports scores, and more. Additionally, commands to set alarms, send texts, and the like are also supported.
- The ability to better monitor your health and fitness: Get fitness summaries with real-time speed, distance, and time tracking for walking, running, and cycling.
- Your key to a multiscreen world: With open APIs, the possibilities are nearly endless; give commands to launch music or cast movies and shows right from your watch to your phone or tablet.
Additionally, a glance at the developer preview provides insight into the guiding principles behind Google's tech:
Clear notifications for seamless transitioning between phone and watch.
Actionable items with intuitive design.
Scrollable pages to more easily digest information—instead of packing everything on one screen, swipe through them to get all the info.
Motorola is obviously on board, as are LG with their G Watch, but shortly after Google's announcement came one from an actual watch manufacturer. Fossil Group has announced that they're "working together with Google supporting the extension of Android into wearables with Android Wear."
And don't think that this announcement is limited to watches. Sure, they will likely be the first to market, but the development kit and its' principals are also aimed at other wearables, like fit bands and oh yeah, Google Glass.
Personally, I am more encouraged with today's announcement than I have been about the wearables market as a whole. The Galaxy Gear seemed too far removed from the interface I'm accustomed to with my phone and tablet. Add to that the limited physical design features, and I'm wasn't very impressed.
What we're seeing today are smartwatches that actually look like beautiful timepieces, not just a chunk of tech on my wrist.
The mesh of design and functionality that's coming our way is exciting, and if I may be so bold, I'm calling 2014 the year of the smartwatch.