Google Announces First Android Wear Smartwatches

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LG’s G Watch and Samsung’s Gear Live will ship next month, while Moto 360 is expected by the end of the summer

Google has revealed the first three smartwatches running a specialised version of Android OS called Android Wear.

LG’s G Watch and Samsung’s Gear Live are now available for pre-order, with Google’s own Moto 360 expected to launch later this summer. The company has also released the Software Development Kit (SDK), allowing third-party developers to get familiar with the back-end of the new OS for the very first time.

The announcements were made on the first day of Google I/O annual developer conference, where David Singleton, director of engineering for Android, was showing off first apps from select partners including Eat24, which enables users to order a takeaway from their wrist, and Lyft which can help them order a taxi.

The software

Android Wear was originally announced in March. It reimagines Android as a lightweight OS based on ‘cards’ that enables wearable devices to do things like estimate journey times, monitor the amount of calories being burnt, or check in for a flight.

Android Wear sideAndroid Wear devices are designed to be controlled with voice commands, always listening for the owner to say “OK Google”, the same way Google Glass does. The devices are also time and location-aware, so they can display relevant information on a certain day, or when user enters a certain area.

The new smartwatches can vibrate when they display notifications from the smartphone, answer or reject calls, control other Android devices or be used as a headphone remote. They run familiar Google services including Maps, as well as new apps designed for the small screen on the wrist.

Apps appear on a wearable device automatically after being installed on a paired smartphone, and updates are also automatic. In addition to Eat24 and Lyft, applications already announced for the platform include PayPal, Soundwave, Pinterest and Allthecooks.

Android Wear integrates with Google’s just announced Android Auto and Android TV platforms. From today, independent developers can build their own apps using the just released SDK.

The hardware

LG’s G Watch is a rectangular device with a case made of stainless steel. It is dust and water-resistant, and doesn’t feature a single button, designed to be controlled exclusively by voice commands. The always-on 1.65-inch IPS display switches from monochrome to colour when a user interacts with it.

The smartwatch is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor clocking in at 1.2GHz, comes with 4GB of storage and 512MB of RAM. It will be available in two colours — Black Titan and White Gold, at a price of £169.Samsung Gear Live

“As one of the first to market with Android Wear, LG wanted to develop a product that functions as an essential companion device but most importantly, was simple to use,” said Jong-seok Park, president and CEO of LG Mobile. “We wanted a device that would be simple to learn and so intuitive that users wouldn’t even have to think about how to use its features. That’s what the LG G Watch is all about.”

Samsung’s Gear Live is once again rectangular, dust and water-resistant. It features a 1.63-inch Super AMOLED display, 1.2 GHz processor, 4GB of internal memory and 512MB of RAM. Unlike G Watch, it also includes a built-in heart rate monitor, and comes with a standard 22mm watch band which the users can replace if they need to.

Gear Live will be available in Black and Wine Red, priced at £159.

“It’s exciting to be working closely with Samsung on the launch of the Gear Live — with its all-day battery and vibrant display– to bring more smart wearables to the market,” said Sundar Pichai, head of Android and Chrome.

Both smartwatches will ship on 7 July, and will require to be paired with a smartphone running at least Android 4.3. Pichai previously said that Android Wear smartwatches from Asus and HTC are also on the way.

Android Wear

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Android Wear
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