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Google teases Android Wear for smartwatches

Google teases Android Wear for smartwatches

The Moto 360 is to be joined by the LG G Watch as launch devices for Google's freshly-unveiled Android Wear smartwatch platform.

Google has officially thrown its hat into the smartwatch ring, announcing the impending launch of a new Android fork dubbed Android Wear and launch devices from partners Motorola and LG.

The concept of having a watch that does more than tell the time isn't a new one. From the calculator watch craze of the 90s through to unsuccessful attempts by companies like Timex, Fossil, Palm and Microsoft to replace the personal digital assistant - now supplanted by the smartphone - with a wrist-borne equivalent, history is littered with failures. Recently, however, technology has progressed to the point where it's just about possible to have a truly smart device on your wrist - as proven by the success of the Pebble Kickstarter project and renewed interest from companies like Sony and Samsung.

Now, Google has confirmed rumours that it too is looking to the smartwatch market with avarice, announcing a fork of its Linux-based Android operating system that will form the heart of a new generation of wearables. Dubbed Android Wear - for obvious reasons - the operating system is specifically tailored to bring a subset of Android functionality to the small screens required of a wristwatch. As well as the ability to tell the time, Android Wear devices will function as sports watches with full GPS-based tracking, timing and mapping, and can connect to Android smartphones and tablets to forward notifications from applications like email clients, social networking packages and the dialler.

Its biggest feature, however, comes from its integration with Google Now. Like the implementation in the latest Android 4.4 KitKat build, Google Now on Android Wear is voice-activated: simply say 'OK, Google' and the system will perform actions - like sending a text message, launching an app or setting a calendar entry - or web searches based on your vocal instructions, with the results relayed on the smartwatch's display.

Google has promised devices from numerous partner companies including Fossil, which is clearly not put off by its previous failures to enter the smartwatch market in partnership with Palm and Microsoft, and launch devices from Motorola and LG dubbed the Moto 360 and G Watch respectively. Both devices are expected to launch in the second quarter of this year, but pricing and formal availability are not yet provided. Intel has also indicated that it is working with Google on Android Wear, suggesting that at least one of the impending devices is powered by the company's latest Quark processor.

If you're curious as to the platform's capabilities in the meantime Google has released a teaser video based on the Moto G, reproduced below.

18 Comments

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tonyd223 19th March 2014, 12:52 Quote
That Motorola looks sweet - but I'm used to just looking at my wrist, not had to press a button to see the time since, what, 1977?
Nexxo 19th March 2014, 13:49 Quote
If it has a compass function, it will basically have movement/acceleration sensors built in. It could be programmed to recognise you lifting your arm and flicking your wrist to look at the watch.

I've played with the Motorola Aura --I know that they're capable of making a lovely round LCD screen and lovely stainless steel gadgets. So want.
tonyd223 19th March 2014, 14:02 Quote
One of my Casio Pro Trek's has that flick thing for auto back light - good idea tho...
edzieba 19th March 2014, 14:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonyd223
That Motorola looks sweet - but I'm used to just looking at my wrist, not had to press a button to see the time since, what, 1977?
Help, my left arm's drifted off into the sunset! How am I going to operate my smartwatch now?!
SMIFFYDUDE 19th March 2014, 15:16 Quote
Looks like a gimmicky sales flop in the making. No one I know wears a normal watch in the first place they just use their phone to check the time.
ChaosDefinesOrder 19th March 2014, 15:37 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SMIFFYDUDE
Looks like a gimmicky sales flop in the making. No one I know wears a normal watch in the first place they just use their phone to check the time.

In principle I agree with you, and I am one of those people nowadays since my watch ran out battery and I can't be arsed to replace it for the phone reason, however it is irritating to dig phone out of pocket whenever I want to just check the time (which I need to do often given that I have NO internal sense of time at all!)
Guinevere 19th March 2014, 15:50 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SMIFFYDUDE
Looks like a gimmicky sales flop in the making.

Alternatively it'll help enter in a new era of connecting us to our devices and our digital lives. Some people have smart phones. Some people have watches. Some people have running watches. Some people have fitness bands. Some people have navigation devices. Some people have heart rate monitors. Some people have glucose monitors. Some people have blood pressure monitors. Some people have location trackers. Some people have emergency alert buttons.... there's lots of devices out there.

And soon some people will also have a new range of 'smart watches'. Not everyone, I don't think anyone is claiming that everyone wants one or will buy one.

But don't be too upset. You're not the first person to predict the death of a technology prematurely.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Olson, president Digital Equipment Corp (1977)
There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.
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Originally Posted by Robert Metcalf, 3Com founder. Invented ethernet, 1995
I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse.
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Originally Posted by Steve Ballmer, 2007
There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sir William Preece, chief engineer, British Post Office, 1876
The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943
I think there is a world market for maybe five computers
Quote:
Originally Posted by Darryl Zanuck, 20th Century Fox, 1946
Television won't be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.
Corky42 19th March 2014, 16:09 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Article
Google Now on Android Wear is voice-activated: simply say 'OK, Google' and the system will perform actions
OK, Google. Stop tracking me and serving up adverts based on what shops i go into.
wuyanxu 19th March 2014, 16:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SMIFFYDUDE
Looks like a gimmicky sales flop in the making. No one I know wears a normal watch in the first place they just use their phone to check the time.
I was like that in 2007 up to last year, then I grew up and got an awesome automatic chronometer, now I wear it most of the time, and feel naked without it.

A good timepiece is more than a watch, it's a style symbol and valuable piece of information for your daily life.



For this smart watch business, I'm with Tony. The dial should not be optional screensaver, it needs to be visible all the time. I would rather have a timepiece with the interactive smart screen in the middle, like most car's instrument cluster these days. The main job of car instruments is to tell the speed, thus the speedometer should be at a fixed location and always visible, same with a watch's ability to tell time.
RedFlames 19th March 2014, 16:38 Quote
Agreed with 'watch first, smart thingy second'... It should also work, as a watch at least, if it can't connect to the device[s] it's paired with...

Would I buy/wear one? probably not... but I don't wear a regular watch either...
Lenderz 19th March 2014, 16:41 Quote
A nice mechanical is much better in my opinion, the watch won't do anything that your smart phone won't, why have two devices doing the same job, a good quality mechanical automatic is a much better buy.

I'm not really sure who this is for.
rollo 19th March 2014, 17:18 Quote
Still have 0 intrest in a Smartwatch till the battery can actually live more than 24hrs. What good is a watch that needs daily charging.

Also not a fan of it from the looks of it, Big clunky most of them are.
Sloth 19th March 2014, 21:04 Quote
While skeptical at first, the more I think about this the more open I am to the idea. The various navigation features in particular could be great to have on your wrist. Just depends on the actually capability, and the reliance on having a linked smartphone for these features.

That link to a smartphone is my biggest complaint with the device. If I've got my smartphone in my pocket why bother with using the watch to do everything? It seems like an oddly expensive way of eliminating the slight hassle of reaching into your pocket.
Nexxo 19th March 2014, 22:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by rollo
Still have 0 intrest in a Smartwatch till the battery can actually live more than 24hrs. What good is a watch that needs daily charging.

Where do you put your watch at night? Surely you don't sleep with it? Of course not, it goes on the nightstand. When it's a posh, expensive one it may even go on a stand. Now imagine that stand is a wireless charger. Job done.

As for its uses: in clinical sessions my phone is on silent (vibrate), but it would be damn handy to be able to tell with a casual glance at a watch whether the call is urgent, or whether the next client has cancelled (my NHS Outlook calendar is updated all the time by my secretary). In meetings it is an unobtrusive way of keeping informed of calls, emails, messages.

As you strap on the watch in the morning it could tell you the weather, commute time based on current traffic conditions (I have Nokia Here Drive on my Windows Phone doing this, and it's pretty nifty), and updates to my diary or emails since I last looked yesterday.

Fitness freaks can think of more applications. People who travel a lot may be reminded of their travel schedule and details (your diary says you're having a meeting in London this morning. Your GPS says you're in Birmingham. Your email confirms you bought train tickets on the TrainLine.com. I can now remind you of your train departure time, tell you what platform it's leaving from, warn you about delays and cancellations. If you book a taxi to the station (number here, based on your contacts or a local Google), expect travel time to take 20 mins. in current traffic. I'll remind you to collect the tickets when GPS says you've arrived at the station). The watch can show boarding pass codes. Etc.
Guinevere 19th March 2014, 23:41 Quote
People quite fairly are sceptical of the the battery life, the size and whether there's a need for a smart watch when we all have smart phones.

I already have a 'smarter than normal' watch that is both clunky and has 'limited' battery life. It's a garmin Forerunner that I bought for trail runs in all conditions. 20hrs of GPS battery life (longer than my phone) and 100% waterproof so I can use it when I hit a water obstacle. I get alerts on my pace, heart rate and when I need to change course.

It's my 'how am I doing?' and 'get me home if I get lost in the hills' device and thus works as a lovely backup to my phone. I'll put up with the clunk because it's a lot more convenient and appropriate than my phone.

A lot of people could very good use out of a phone connected wrist device. It's SO EARLY DAYS when it comes to smart watches. It's virtually impossible to guess how we'll be using them in years to come.

And of course next years models will be slimmer and lighter with longer running batteries. Like duh!
NIHILO 20th March 2014, 00:01 Quote
This is something I want to happen, and im glad to see google is getting on top of it.

Ever since I saw Samsungs latest entry I have wanted one. Only thing that has stopped me from buying one was the fact it only worked with Samsung phones despit them being android, and the fact that Sony's entry seems limited feature-wise compared to Samsungs smartwatch(I currently have the Sony Xperia ZL).
Xlog 20th March 2014, 01:19 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo
Where do you put your watch at night? Surely you don't sleep with it? Of course not, it goes on the nightstand. When it's a posh, expensive one it may even go on a stand. Now imagine that stand is a wireless charger. Job done.

I sleep with my watch on my wrist, why wouldn't I?
Also, I doubt wireless charging can be incorporated in a wrist watch, at least not in a metal one.
Nexxo 20th March 2014, 08:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xlog
I sleep with my watch on my wrist, why wouldn't I?
Also, I doubt wireless charging can be incorporated in a wrist watch, at least not in a metal one.

Also sleep with your socks on? :p (I just think it would be really uncomfortable).

As long as the watch has a non-metal (sapphire? Ceramic?) back, it would be possible. My two Junghans watches have a ceramic housing. Tougher than metal: scratch proof, non-magnetic, light.
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