As I've said many times in the past few months, wearable devices are the next big thing in mobile, with nearly every manufacturer either already selling or rumored to be prepping a smartwatch or some other piece of wearable gear. Google recognizes this, and as a result the company has announced a new initiative known as Android Wear to make it easy to use its mobile software on wearable hardware.
Like other wearable devices that we've seen come to market, Android Wear aims to help provide the wearer with notifications for things like messages and social updates, health and fitness information and the ability to control other devices like a music player. Google also says that users can use voice commands to ask questions using the phrase "Ok Google," similar to the Touchless Control feature found on the Moto X.
In order to help developers prepare for the initial wave of Android Wear devices, Google is releasing a Developer Preview of the software today. The company says that it can be used to get existing app notifications ready for use with Android Wear hardware. The good news for devs is that, because Android Wear works with the notification system found in Android, most apps should already play nicely with Android Wear.
On the hardware side of things, Google says that it already has several partners on board with Android Wear. That includes manufacturers like Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola and Samsung; chip makers like Broadcom, Mediatek and Qualcomm; and fashion companies like Fossil. The first watches powered by Android Wear are expected to arrive later in 2014.
While a few Android-powered watches have already come to market, none of them have really been great devices that all consumers needed to run out and buy. Now that Google is getting behind Android wearables in a big way with Android Wear, though, I'd expect the quality of Android-powered wearable devices to increase significantly. Not only will Android Wear result in better software powering these products, but I'm sure that Google will have some input on at least some of the Android Wear hardware that comes to market.
What do you think of Google's official initiative to get a proper version of Android on wearables? Do you think that you'll check out the first round of Android Wear products later this year?