Earlier this week, Google unveiled Android Wear — a version of its smartphone operating system for smartwatches.
Motorola has already come forward to showcase its Moto 360, one of the first smartwatches that will run on Android Wear, and because Google is making the software free for anyone to download, we now have a really good idea of what you’ll be able to do with it once manufacturers start making Android smartwatches.
Ars Technica published a lengthy walkthrough and analysis of the Android Wear emulator, a program that lets you test the operating system on your computer, and from what we’ve seen its starting to sound a lot like a wrist-worn version of Google Glass. Like Google’s wearable display, Android Wear is heavily focused on delivering “glanceable” notifications. This means updates from your social networks, weather notifications and much more will be readily available on your wrist.
Similar to Glass, you interact with Android Wear in two ways: voice input and swiping. According to Ars Technica’s Ron Amadeo, Google has built in a few gestures that seem to be consistent throughout the user interface. Tapping on a notification such as the weather will expand it, and from there you can swipe to the left will show an extended forecast. Swiping up will display more notifications.
These basic controls are similar to the way you interact with the touchpad on Google Glass: tapping the touchpad expands the current notification, swiping forward shows a different element of the notification, and swiping down dismisses it.
Android Wear’s built-in voice search comes with a guide that offers up suggestions for questions. After tapping the “g” that resides on the home screen, you can drag up to see a list of suggested voice commands, Amadeo said. This list includes the ability to set an alarm, call a cab, ask Google which song is currently playing (kind of like Shazam), and set reminders. And that’s just barely scratching the surface. It sounds similar to the main menu in Glass, which offers choices such as sending a voice call, video call, or performing a Google search.
It also seems as if Android Wear will work with any third-party app once the watch is tied to your phone. Since the watch is linked to your smartphone via Bluetooth, it will deliver any notification that appears on your device.
We haven’t seen much about how apps will translate to Android Wear, but we’re expecting to learn more as developers actually begin creating apps for the platform. Like Glass, the shell of Android Wear seems to be notification heavy, but it will all depend on how receptive developers are to the platform.
Motorola’s Android Wear-based Moto 360 watch will be launching this summer. LG’s G Watch is coming soon too, so we’re bound to learn more throughout the next several months.