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Google Announces Android Wear – The OS For Smartwatches

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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Google confirms it is working with a number of manufacturers to get first devices out soon

Google has confirmed the launch of Android Wear – a tweaked version of the company’s mobile operating system designed specifically for wearable technology devices.

In a company blog post, Google senior vice president of Android, Chrome and apps, Sundar Pichai, described how the new OS will allow the search engine giant to extend Android to a rapidly growing product sector, with smartwatches the company’s primary target.

“Most of us are rarely without our smartphones in hand,” Pichai wrote. “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.”

google android wear imageOK Google

Pichai listed LG, Asus, HTC, Motorola, and Samsung as hardware partners for Android Wear, along with Broadcom, Imagination, Intel, Mediatek and Qualcomm as chip partners, although details on specific products are yet to appear.

The new OS, which Pichai revealed two weeks ago at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, includes several new features designed specifically for wearable technology devices.

This includes the same always-listening experience seen in Google Glass, as well as the recently launched Moto X, meaning that whenever you need to do something with your watch, you just need to say “OK Google.” This feature can also be used to control other Android devices, meaning you could use it to start playing a music playlist on your phone, or to act as a Siri-esque question service. A video released by Google alongside the news shows users accessing apps such as Google Maps and Messages, but also using devices to track a taxi, monitor the amount of calories being burnt, and checking in for a flight.

Google is now opening up Android Wear to developers, with Pichai saying he is excited to see what apps are produced to take full advantage of the flexibility of wearable devices.

Interested companies can now download a ‘Developer Preview’ of Android Wear from Google’s developer site, which will allow them to tailor their existing app notifications for smartwatches powered by the new OS. There is no sign of a software development kit (SDK) for Android Wear, with Google simply saying it is ‘coming soon’.

“We’re always seeking new ways for technology to help people live their lives and this is just another step in that journey,” Pichai said. “Here’s to getting the most out of the many screens you use every day—whether in your car, in your pocket or, very soon, on your wrist.”

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