Google has announced Android Wear, a development platform which extends Android into the wearable devices segment. While companies like i’m Watch have been using Android to power smartwatches since early 2012 and even Motorola took a pass at it with the MOTOACTV, Android Wear is being pitched as a standardized platform and UI that can be used by any manufacturer interested in building an “ecosystem of watches in a variety of styles, shapes and sizes.” In fact, Google is already working with known technology and fashion brands like Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola, Samsung and even Fossil Group and expects the first devices to hit the market later this year.
From what we can tell, Android Wear is a combination of Google Now and rich notifications fed to a wearable device from a connected smartphone. The two videos of Android Wear show users looking up sports scores, opening a garage door, booking a taxi, checking traffic, check and reply to messages, check into a flight, track burned calories and more. Most of what’s shown appears to be an extension of Google Now, but developers will be able to tie in their apps into Android Wear devices as well.
Google is opening a preview SDK of Android Wear to developers this week. The SDK will allow developers to tweak the app notifications to work with Android Wear, but many app that already take advantage of rich notifications on Android may already be compatible with the platform.
While Google is expecting a handful of Android Wear devices to hit the market later this year, the first device will most likely come from LG sometime next quarter. We’ve already seen a leaked spec sheet for the LG smartwatch and it looks like the device may be ready to make its debut as the developer-centric device (think Nexus Watch) just in time for Google I/O.