Android: Wearable Technology
It’s difficult to ignore the constantly-raging battle between Google and Apple with their respective Android and iOS operating systems. Whereas one originally focused on hardware and the other on internet services, the dividing line has recently become increasingly blurred. This has created a fierce rivalry, with commentators constantly assessing the pros and cons of each service. Currently, Apple seems to have the upper hand with a quarterly revenue greatly exceeding that of Google, although Android does have a bigger market share.
Perhaps the most surprising of all, is Apple’s somewhat slow move into wearable technology, and what is seemingly opening up to become Android’s dominance, with Apple too busy bringing out half update’s on core products for a quick buck perhaps? So far the most high-profile and successful example of such technology has been the smart watch, with several models already in production. Whilst until now it was bossed by smaller indie companies such as Pebble, it seems whilst Apple still seem happy for the rumour mill to roll on (there’s even a website dedicated to such rumours), Google, however, have proven to be far less elusive, and have recently unveiled plans for a new operating system. This system is specifically designed for smart watches and will be called Android Wear.
Following their announcement, Google posted a video advertising the perks of Android Wear. For anybody who has seen the Google Glass promotional movie, the video will be familiar – essentially a group of people walking around whose lives are greatly enhanced by the smart watch. Although, admittedly, this time it does look tempting.
Navigation, for instance, will surely be a huge selling point of the new system. There’ll be no more crashing into lampposts now that your location can be determined by a simple turn of the wrist. Furthermore, the system will work on both square and round smart watches. This may seem inconsequential, but appearance is an important factor in the domain of wearable technology, and the large, bulky, squareness of many smart watches has undoubtedly put off many prospective buyers. Round watches, however, are often far more elegant; indeed, some can barely be distinguished from an ordinary watch (the Moto 360 is just beautiful), and this compatibility is sure to attract more style-conscious consumers to the Android platform.
Of course, as with all other smart watches, those operating Android Wear will not be standalone devices, and will require a smart phone in order to work. Smart watches are, after all, essentially external monitors for your smart phone, allowing notifications to be read and acted upon more easily. This is not to say, however, that the watches are not useful. Some perks are evident – no rummaging around in your pocket to look at a text, never missing a notification – but there are also other, less obvious advantages to having smart watch that relies on a phone. Battery power, for instance. As most of the processing is going on inside the phone, the watch can be relatively efficient, allowing a much smaller battery and, in turn, a far less clunky timepiece. Furthermore, apps do not have to be downloaded twice, as they’re all on the smart phone and are merely accessed from the watch.
This does, however, bring up one issue with the system, which is that developers will have to adapt their apps in order to maintain compatibility with both the phone and the watch. Although as watches become increasingly popular, such a move should be in both developers’ and consumers’ best interests.
So far, there are two watches which plan to make use of the new operating system: the Motorola Moto 360 and the LG G Watch. Currently, there’s very little information available on these two models besides a few released images. Both companies, however, will be releasing more news on the products in the coming months, and both look set to be released sometime this summer.
For now, though, we’ll have to wait. But if the promotional video is anything to go by, Android Wear is going to be an exciting and much anticipated addition to the world of the smart watch.