Google strengthens Android Wear as it braces for the iWatch attack
Since announcing its Android Wear OS for wearables back in June, Google has not really said much about the operating system nor given us any ideas on future updates. However in a recent interview with CNet, a company official revealed that a series updates are indeed in the works to further strengthen the platform.
Android Wear is currently used on three smartwatches, the Samsung Gear Live, the LG G Watch and the Moto 360, which is set to launch tomorrow. Some upcoming wearables are also said to feature the OS, and Google believes that more and more consumers will be adopting wearables, simply because as curious human beings, we like to know what’s going on all the time.
Android engineering director David Singleton and VP of Android engineering Hiroshi Lockheimer were present at CNet’s interview, and revealed that the company is preparing several updates which will be available before the end of the year.
“One of the things we’re going to be able to do is add the ability for these devices to start working with some of the other devices you might wear on your body,” Singleton said. “We’ll have an update coming that allows you to pair a Bluetooth headset with your watch. And that means you can play music stored on your watch directly on your Bluetooth headset.”
Besides support for Bluetooth headsets, there are also plans to integrate GPS functionality, a move that will perhaps allow smartwatch owners to rely even less on their smartphones. GPS support could aid the likes of runners, who will be able to simply leave their smartphones at home and have all their running data synced up with the apps on their phones when they get home.
The Android Wear development pair also highlighted that the combination of fitness and communications functions is what makes customers dependent on their wearables. This is perhaps why fitness tracking is always touted as such a major feature on many of the latest upcoming smartwatches.
“Being able to have the fitness tracking that I might get from a little band, as well as being able to stay up to date with what’s going on with people who I’m not with right now, through email or SMS or notifications – when I take it off, I really miss it,” Singleton explained.
Furthermore, Google is said to be working on a toolkit that will allow third-party developers to build and develop their own custom watch faces. This is great for users who may want to stray from the watch faces provided by default from Google and/or the device OEM. This could be anything from apps to build personalised watch faces, to those that can provide work specific functions.
“For example, if you’re taking a hike, maybe it’s interesting to out the specific distance you’ve traveled right there on the watch face. If you’re someone who cares about a specific stock or specific score of a sports team, maybe you can have a sports team watch face and put their latest score right there on the watch face.”
With all these exciting updates, we can expect to see an Android Wear update this week that will “improve the navigation experience and some of the voice action experience”. With the launch of the iWatch just around the corner, it is clear that Google will be fighting hard to stay ahead of the game. The battle is just starting, and there’s no question that the consumers will be the ones taking all the benefits.