Google Tweaks Android for Wearables

by Matt Klassen on March 19, 2014

In an effort to avoid the fragmentation that has plagued the company’s Android mobile operating system for years now, Google is changing its mobile strategy with the burgeoning wearable technology market, announcing it will be creating a new version of Android specifically for wearables.

The newly modified version of its popular mobile platform, called Android Wear, will draw heavily on the company’s Google Now voice-recognition technology, and, as mentioned, will be designed specifically for wearables, which for now exclusively means smartwatches.

Its clear that aside from its attempt to avoid Android fragmentation in this new mobile niche, that Google is also hoping to leverage its considerable clout in the technology market to corner this fledgling market as it competes not only with rival operating systems but fellow Android partners as well for control of the space.

According to a Google blog post, Android Wear, much like Google Glass, will run Google Now and the company’s Siri rip-off “Ok Google,’ to ask questions or compose text messages. As CNET’s Roger Cheng summarizes, “Android Wear is designed to provide relevant information, as well as notifications from social apps, alerts from your messaging apps, and notifications from shopping, news, and photography apps.”

Beyond that, the modified Android will focus heavily on health and fitness as well; building on the popular trend currently dominated the smartwatch scene.

Google also intends to use Android Wear as a link between you and your other devices, branching out beyond simply a mobile companion to a companion for your entire technological existence, connecting your smartwatch, for instance, to your television and computer.

As part of the blog post Google also introduced Asus, LG, HTC, Motorola, and Samsung as hardware partners who will create wearables that utilize Android Wear, and announced Broadcom, Imagination, Intel, MediaTek, and Qualcomm as chip partners.

As mentioned, while certainly not the first to the wearables market, Google is hoping to establish a firm foothold in this burgeoning tech sector before its competitors are able to, and looking at the current wearable offerings, that really shouldn’t be too hard. Look for Google to impress upon its partners that need to revolutionize the form factor of smartwatches, offering something, like Google Glass perhaps, that delivers both form—something that looks nice—and functionality—a useable gadget.

As Cheng writes,” Google’s entry marks an attempt to provide a little stability and order in the wild, wild wearables world. Samsung and Sony have already created their own Android-based smartwatches (although Samsung has recently switched to Tizen), and Google is looking to set up a foundation with a more consistent experience, just as it has attempted to do over the last few iterations of Android in smartphones.”

Further, you can be sure that Google is keenly aware of Samsung’s Tizen venture, now deployed on the company’s second generation of Galaxy Gear, and Apple’s rumoured wearables projects. In fact, I would guess it won’t be long before the smartwatch market gets very crowded indeed.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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