Google announced on March 18th that they had created a new interface for wearable technology based on the Android platform, which they named, “Android Wear”. This adaptation of Android is meant to be lightweight, highly contextual, and aware of your surroundings. Check out the video after the break. My thoughts on the technology to follow.
In the video, Alex Faaborg states that when they were designing Android Wear, they were focused on making it “incredibly Fast, incredibly Simple, incredibly Glance-able. They view android wear as an opportunity to make wearable technology highly sensitive to your needs, surroundings, and typical behavior. Getting ready for work? Glance at your watch and it will tell you the weather, your first meeting, and traffic on your morning commute. Outside a restaurant that looks good? Check your watch to see the yelp reviews. Getting on a plane? Hold your watch to the boarding pass scanner to board. All without typing a word or asking any questions. How will google build the logic to strap you into their version of Big Brother? Well, all of the building blocks for this type of technology were already in Google’s arsenal with their Google Now platform.
Google Now uses predictive cloud analytics to analyze available data – like your location, search history, and use of other google services to anticipate what you may be interested in seeing, and puts it on an index card sized update for you. As you use Google Now, it learns from you, making the product more effective. Google Now is currently available as part of the Google Search app on both Apple’s iOS and Android platforms. Features for Google Now are getting more comprehensive with every update.
In Wearables, Google is hoping the most acceptable interface will be the one that needs the least user interaction – definitely no typing, and minimal voice commands. Personally I think that this makes the best user interface if its configured properly, and you let Google know as much as it needs to make it useful (insert privacy concerns here). But I also think that relying on the device to “just know” may not go far enough for apps to truly disrupt the market once wearables go mainstream. But it certainly better than trying to type with my massive thumbs with any accuracy on my watch face.
Google Releases the Android Wear SDK
In a move I fully support, since so few companies do this, the next sentence after the introduction of the product was the releasing of a preview SDK. This means that Android developers can hop right in to extending their existing apps with a richer experience for this form factor. Check out the link for full instructions on how to get access to the SDK, emulators, and developer tools. This is a great move because opening up development early, before there is even a mass market device, is going to be key to make sure that when there is one, that there are a host of apps available.
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Additional video showcasing Android Wear User Interface.