Android Wear may bring smart watches to the mainstream—and to your wrist

The new project from Google takes its mobile OS to wearable computing devices

Published: March 18, 2014 01:30 PM
A video in Google's blog post shows smart-watch possibilities with Android Wear.

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Today Google announced Android Wear, a new project that extends its mobile OS to wearable computing devices—and it's starting with smart watches. "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," proclaimed the company in a blog post.  

This news confirms that Google is ready to make an official entry into the budding wearables arena, along with companies that are already playing there: Sony, Samsung, Pebble, and Qualcomm, among others. The company also said it will be working with companies including Asus, HTC, and LG, and Fossil to market new smart watches powered by Android Wear later in 2014.

Android Wear will add features such as Google's voice commands to wearables: Just say "OK Google," as you do with an Android smart phone, and you'll be able to search for all kinds of information, make calls, send texts, and so on. Android Wear will also let you access and control other devices from your wearable gadget, among other features.

Check our review of six smart watches for more information.

What this news does not confirm is that Google will come out with its own smart watch, which had been rumored. After all, Google is not a hardware company. In the case of unprecedented products such as the coming Google Glass, it's understandable that Google would manufacture the entire product, including hardware. But smart watches are already here, so Google doesn't need to prove the concept.

But this initiative promises to make interoperability between Android smart phones and smart watches a smoother and easier process. And Gooogle says it will supply app developers with plenty of resources, so they can tailor existing apps to Android Wear and create new ones—and it will be fascinating to see what new uses will arise for these smart devices.

The smart watch is still a new and evolving category; most of the ones we've seen so far are pricey, bulky, and fairly geeky-looking. But with Google's added support—and considering the major electronics and fashion brands it has on board—you may find a smart watch on your wrist a lot sooner than you might have thought.

—Carol Mangis

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