Google got into the tech wearables space in a big way this week with the announcement of Android Wear. The search giant’s smartphone platform, is available to developers as preview software right now, and will start shipping on watches from LG and Motorola next quarter.
Smartwatches and activity-tracker wristbands caught on with the tech cognoscenti last year. Pebble broke Kickstarter’s then-record for a crowdfunding campaign with its debut smartwatch, and Fitbit and Jawbone have seen success with their fitness-oriented devices.
Judging from Google’s preview videos, however, Android Wear looks like it’ll blow the current crop of connected wristwear out of the water. Why? Here are three reasons:
1. Google Now was made for 'the glance.'
Google Now is the best reason to use an Android phone. Now’s card-based view -- and creepily thorough knowledge -- of your online life is even better suited to the tiny confines of a wrist-mounted display. The Android Wear promo videos nail the concept with simple screens that address one task at a time, whether it's delivering an SMS message, tracking a workout or navigating you to a destination.
Android Wear responds to touch and voice commands, and learns from everything you do on any Google-enabled device just like Google Now does. And the clean, colorful user interface is a revelation that makes me think Google finally has a world-class design team working on Android.
2. Moto 360 is a design gem.
My biggest complaint about devices like Pebble is that their design screams, “I’m a techie!” Moto 360, on the other hand, looks like a watch designed for modern life.
The idea behind smartwatches is to make technology less invasive by bringing vital information to your wrist while your larger devices stay hidden away. Motorola embraced this philosophy in their hardware design, blessing 360 with an iconic look based on stylish analogue wristwatches of old. Even the seemingly simple choice of a circular face makes Moto 360 stand out in a world of increasingly boring rectangular touch screens.
Take a look. Here's the preview video:
3. Partners and volume.
Google launched Android Wear with LG and Motorola committed to shipping smartwatches next quarter. But they also announced a slew of additional partners working on products slated for later in the year: Asus, HTC and Samsung (devices); Broadcom, Imagination, Intel, Mediatek and Qualcomm (chips); and even the fashion brand Fossil Group.
Dozens of partners working on hundreds of devices in myriad shapes and sizes. Sound familiar? It should. This is exactly the approach that’s grown Android into the world’s leading smartphone platform by market share.