The company is starting with a familiar form factor: watches (no, wearable technology doesn’t have to involve light-flashing clothing). “Going well beyond the mere act of just telling you the time,” it says.
According to Google, Android Wear will support:
Useful information (“Android Wear shows you info and suggestions you need, right when you need them. The wide variety of Android applications means you’ll receive the latest posts and updates from your favourite social apps, chats from your preferred messaging apps, notifications from shopping, news and photography apps, and more”.)
Voice control (“Just say ‘Ok Google’ to ask questions, like how many calories are in an avocado, what time your flight leaves, and the score of the game. Or say ‘Ok Google’ to get stuff done, like calling a taxi, sending a text, making a restaurant reservation or setting an alarm.
Monitor health and fitness (“Real-time speed, distance and time information on your wrist for your run, cycle or walk.)
Multiscreen support (“Access and control other devices from your wrist. Just say ‘Ok Google’ to fire up a music playlist on your phone, or cast your favourite movie to your TV.”)
In terms of UI, Google says a new form factor deserves a new UI model and at the highest level this consists of two main elements: the “context stream”, to be swiped through, for suggestions; and “cue cards” for demands, i.e. unanticipated actions.
First out of the blocks is LG, with its Android Wear-based G Watch due to arrive in a few months.
For developers, there’s a new section on developer.android.com/wear focused on wearables.
Resources include a Developer Preview. Google says you will be able to tailor your existing app notifications for watches powered by Android Wear. Because Android for wearables works with Android’s rich notification system, many apps will already work well. More APIs and features for Android Wear devices are promised in coming months.
Google says it is working with several consumer electronics manufacturers in this area, including Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola and Samsung, as well as chip makers Broadcom, Imagination, Intel, Mediatek and Qualcomm.
Fashion brand Fossil Group is also mentioned to deliver watches powered by Android Wear later this year.