INTERNET GIANT Google reaffirmed its focus on wearable technology with the unveiling of Android Wear on Tuesday, a version of its mobile operating system designed specifically for smartwatch devices.
Google's Android Wear Developer Preview is available now, and Google has announced a number of key features that it is looking to bring to smartwatches.
Sundar Pichai, SVP of Android said in a blog post, "Most of us are rarely without our smartphones in hand. These powerful supercomputers keep us connected to the world and the people we love. But we're only at the beginning; we've barely scratched the surface of what's possible with mobile technology. That's why we're so excited about wearables - they understand the context of the world around you, and you can interact with them simply and efficiently, with just a glance or a spoken word.
"Today we're announcing Android Wear, a project that extends Android to wearables. And we're starting with the most familiar wearable - watches," he added.
Fitness is a key feature of the Android Wear, with Google saying that health and fitness apps will be able to give smartwatch wearers "real-time speed, distance and time information on your wrist for your run, cycle or walk." Android Wear pulls in contextual updates too, much like Google Now, allowing users to see "the latest posts and updates from your favorite social apps, chats from your preferred messaging apps, notifications from shopping, news and photography apps, and more".
Voice commands are also included, with Google boasting that by barking "OK Google" at your wrist, you'll be able to carry out tasks such as calling a taxi, sending a text, making a restaurant reservation or setting an alarm. Users will be able to use this feature to control other devices too, such as an Android smartphone or tablet.
Google explained, "Just say 'OK Google' to fire up a music playlist on your phone, or cast your favorite movie to your TV. There's a lot of possibilities here so we're eager to see what developers build."
Google said that it will launch the Android Wear SDK later in the year. It also said that it is working with Android partners including Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola, and Samsung on wearables, with rumours claiming that the firm will also launch its own smartwatch.
LG has been quick to announce that it will be among the first to launch an Android smartwatch, saying that it is working closely with Google to launch the "LG G Watch" in the second quarter. Motorola too has announced that it will be releasing the Moto 360' smartwatch later in the year, which will feature a "round face and a premium finish."
The INQUIRER is running a debate this week on the rise of the Internet of Things that is powering wearable technology development. We'd like to hear your views on whether the Internet of Things will kill privacy, or whether user data collected by smart devices will be adequately protected. You can vote for or against these propositions here. µ