Google reveals smartwatch platform ‘Android wear’

19/03/2014

Google is bringing Android to wearable devices with a new platform that lets developers create apps for upcoming smartwatch devices.

Watch this promotional video for Android Wear here:

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Major manufacturers LG Electronics and Motorola are already developing devices that will be compatible with the platform, which will place Google in competition with Samsung’s ‘Gear’ range, Sony’s Smartwatches and the Pebble.

"We've barely scratched the surface of what's possible with mobile technology," Google Android chief Sundar Pichai said in a blog post.

"That's why we're so excited about wearables - they understand the context of the world around you, and you can interact with them simply and efficiently, with just a glance or a spoken word."

The new Android Wear system will make it easier to develop apps specifically for a watch or other wearable device.

Pichaj said the platform would help facilitate apps that provide news and information, allow chats, monitor health and fitness or help in shopping. The system will enable voice-controlled apps and connect to a smartphone or other device.

"Because Android for wearables works with Android's rich notification system, many apps will already work well," Pichai said. "We're also already working with several consumer electronics manufacturers, including Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola and Samsung; chip makers Broadcom, Imagination, Intel, Mediatek and Qualcomm; and fashion brands like the Fossil Group to bring you watches powered by Android Wear later this year."

Global smartwatch sales are expected to grow this year by more than 500 per cent from 1.9 million units in 2013, and to expand further in coming years, the market researcher Strategic Analytics says.

A typical smartwatch allows users to make calls, receive texts and emails, take photos and access apps.

LG Electronics is planning launch by the end of June its first internet-enabled smartwatch powered by Google's new operating system, tapping into the nascent but growing market for wearable devices. Its engineers worked closely with Google, LG said. The firm unveiled a rough image of the watch, showing a black screen displaying time and what looks like a flight schedule.

Meanwhile, Motorola also said on its blog site on Tuesday that it would make a similar watch available this northern summer, starting in the United States.

Samsung's new smartwatch, the Gear 2, which was launched in February, is powered by the Tizen operating system developed by the South Korean giant along with other partners.

Google said separately it was expanding its Google Play catalogue of films and other content for purchase or rental to 39 new countries in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia.

Read the announcement here

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