Google announced Tuesday morning that it is bringing its signature smartphone operating system Android to smart watches. The reveal came in the midst of a torrent of smart watch news this week (yes, strangers talking to their wrists in the supermarket seems inevitable at this point), so let's take a moment to break down the specifics.
Google revealed Android Wear on its official blog Tuesday, writing, "We’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s possible with mobile technology. That’s why we’re so excited about wearables." The company plans to bring the Android OS currently at home on smartphones to a variety of wearable devices, but it's beginning with the obvious and "most familiar": watches. A device that can go "well beyond the mere act of just telling you the time," smart watches running Android will let you control other Android devices, and also run apps from the Android catalogue.
Here's Google's commercial for Wear, which shows an Android watch doing things like route tracking on Google maps, giving beach updates and sports scores, and identifying songs.
The best part? Activating an Android watch will only take a simple "OK Google" voice command. So you can expect to hear people addressing Google in public right alongside the people talking to Glass. Unfortunately, there isn't a go-to name like "Glassholes" for smart watch users.
Google's developer preview gives a closer look at how Android will actually operate on a smart watch, showing screen transitions and speech-to-text messages.
Google's OS needs a device to run on, of course. First up is Motorola's venture into the wearables market: the Moto 360. Motorola's smart watch will operate on Android, bringing with it all the features Google outlined, but the biggest draw will be its design.
Unlike other smart watches, the Moto 360 will be round, like the analog watches of yore. "When we started to think about what we should do in terms of the design of the watch, we really went back in time," Motorola's CVP of Consumer Experience Design Jim Wicks said. So it'll look just like your grandfather's watch, but this one can sext.
The Moto 360 will be available this summer, and according to Motorola's blog, will work by "telling you what you need to know before you know you need it." That's kind of a creepy way to put it.
LG G Watch
Also getting in on the smart watch game is LG, with its G Watch. Not as much is known about the LG's smart watch as the Moto 360. The G Watch will also run on Android Wear, but instead of a round face, it will look more like the smart watches we've come to expect:
Samsung Galaxy Gear
Just a bit ahead of the Google news, Samsung announced Monday the release of an update for its own smart watch OS, Tizen. In an attempt to keep up with Android Wear, Samsung will open Tizen to third-party app developers, hoping to make its wearables competitive with Motorola and LG's Google-powered devices by upping the different things you can do with it. Samsung was the first to break into the smart watch game with the Galaxy Gear, but now the worry is that it might be left behind in the smart watch arms race.