With the world of wearables hotting up, Google has made its play for smartwatch domination.
It’s just launched Android Wear, a new version of its mobile operating system built specifically for savvy timepieces and other, futuristic kit.
The aim is simple: To get out in front of Apple’s forthcoming iWatch and show the world what wearing one of these devices will be like on a day–to–day basis.
Want the inside line? Then read on and we’ll tell you everything you need to know about Android Wear.
1 It’s built specifically for wearables
The premise here is simple. Google’s new software development kit is built specifically for wearable kit and not smartphones.
That means that developers now have the tools to create and tweak their apps so they work seamlessly with smartwatches, rather than having to port add–ons in a clunky fashion.
2 You can use it to do standard smartphone tasks
The key idea behind Android Wear is to handle standard smartphone tasks without having to pull your handset out.
So, there’s a voice activation tool, letting you send text messages, updates and emails by simply dictating into your wrist.
That, of course, is reliant on everyone becoming more au fait with life being like Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’, something we’re a long way from right now.
There’s also the option to access notifications from key apps and cue up playlists on your phone or video on your Android tablet.
3 The developer preview is out now
Devs are able to lay their mitts on Android Wear now.
That means that the big boys, such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp et al will already be hard at work creating smartwatch versions of their apps.
But it also opens up the possibility of some cool new smartwatch-focused apps.
Fitness is already being billed as a key part of Android Wear, with native tools to track distance and calories. Expect that to play a big role as it develops over the next few months.
4 LG and Motorola will debut Android Wear watches
LG and Motorola aren’t hanging around. Both companies have touted Android Wear kit already.
Motorola’s 360 smartwatch is a different looking beast to any of its rivals.
As the name suggests, it has a circular screen and promises to use Android Wear just as Google described.
It’s due to land in the summer in the US, before rolling out globally.
The LG G Watch has a more futuristic look and is set to launch internationally in the second quarter of 2014, working with more than just LG Android phones.
5 But others are on board too
Don’t go thinking that it’s just LG and Moto though. Asus, HTC and Samsung have all signed up to make Android Wear kit.
The latter is a bit of a surprise, seeing as its new Gear smartwatches use its proprietary Tizen operating system.
It seems Sammy, kings of confusing consumers with a welter of different kit, doesn’t want to miss out.
Expect to see new toys from this bunch later in 2014. Apple, it’s over to you.