Google announces Android Wear operating system

By Rachel Hand topicIcon Internet News

Wearable Android

Google has unveiled a new extension of its popular Android operating system, designed for wearable technology.

In a blog post yesterday, Google explained the first wearable devices to see the new software will be watches - "the most familiar wearable". The first smartwatches using the OS - the Motorola Moto 360, and the LG G Watch - are set for release later this year.

Some of the features of Android Wear will include integration with apps, to enable social notifications, messaging and news updates, or the use of fitness apps using a range of sensors.

Meanwhile, devices using Android Wear can also access and control other devices, such as smartphones and smart TVs, for a "multiscreen world". Of course, Android Wear will also feature voice command similar to Google Glass - users can call, text, use apps or search Google using the trigger phrase "Ok, Google".

The video accompanying the blog post shows people using their smartwatches to plan journeys, book taxis, reply to messages, monitor calories burnt, and check sports scores.

Sundar Pichai, Google SVP of Android, Chrome and Apps, commented:

"We're always seeking new ways for technology to help people live their lives and this is just another step in that journey. 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."

The wearable revolution

It was widely believed that Apple would release a smartwatch this year, following comments from CEO Tim Cook - however, it seems Google has beaten them to it.

The developer preview for Android Wear is available now, enabling app developers to tailor their notifications to wearable devices. However, in the coming months Google will be launching software development resources, paving the way for the first wave of apps designed specifically for smartwatches.

Natalie Booth, head of search at theEword, commented: "Wearable tech has been seen as the 'next big thing' by a lot of companies for a while, but success will of course depend on the quality of the user experience, and whether the devices offer something sufficiently different to a smartphone to justify users shelling out. It will be especially interesting to see what kind of apps are released, and perhaps one day, how marketers adapt to the new platform."