Google Android Wear OS and smartwatches announced

google wristGoogle has announced a version of its Android operating system designed specifically for wearable devices.

The first release of Android Wear is designed for smartwatches and helps them follow voice commands.

Google said it was working with electronics firms, chip makers and fashion labels on producing wearable gadgets running Android Wear.

The search giant’s work on Android Wear builds on its experiences with Google Glass augmented spectacles.

One of the first Android Wear devices will be Motorola’s Moto 360 smart watch that will go on sale in the summer.

Google is also working with a number of current Android partners such as Asus, HTC, LG, and Samsung on wearables. LG’s first device with Android Wear will be called the G Watch, and it’s being produced in collaboration with Google just like the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 before it. The device will be available in the second quarter of this year.

What is notable is the fact that the designs of the Google Android Wear smartwatches aren’t clunky and actually look nice.

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Android Wear was announced via the official Google blog and marks a significant move for the company into the wearables sector.

In a blogpost Sundar Pichai, head of Android at Google, said the software would prove useful for gadgets that monitor key health parameters or which people use when they go running or cycling.

There are several key features that have been announced. Google says that you’ll be able to get “real-time speed, distance and time information on your wrist for your run, cycle or walk.”

Naturally, that means Google Maps will be built in so that you’ll be able to get directions directly from your wrist.

The company will also be using Google Now in the watches. Automatic, passive reminders will be sent to users via their smartwatch. The watches will also connect with Android smartphones so that you’ll be able to get all the notifications that you want from whatever apps you have installed on your phone.

google wearableIt could also lead to a class of devices that respond quickly to spoken commands including answering short questions, booking a taxi or sending a text without having to tap anything on a smartphone touchscreen.

Google said it was working on a new user interface for Android that reacted quickly, was driven by a person’s voice and which drew on contextual information, such as a user’s location, to be useful.

Software development kits which application developers can play with have also been released.

“We’re always seeking new ways for technology to help people live their lives and this is just another step in that journey,” wrote Mr Pichai.

The decision to move into wearables would obviously pitch Google into more intense competition with arch-rival Apple.

Has this turned you on or off to owning a smartwatch?

Are you eager to try the Google-powered wearables or are you still waiting to see what Apple’s iWatch has to offer?

Let me know in the comments or on the GN Facebook page.

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