At today’s Google I/O event in San Francisco, Google showed off its Android Wear platform, and announced the immediate availability of the first devices running the platform. Android partners Samsung and LG are now taking orders for their Android Wear devices.
As described on stage, Google has designed Android Wear with many of the features and functions that rumors have suggested Apple’s own iWatch might include. Android Wear supports screens of multiple sizes and styles, including both square and circular. With its always-on display and card-based UI, it displays information like notifications and location-based reminders.
Android Wear is largely controlled via voice commands, and also supports contextual apps that display information at a glance, integrating with several sensors, such as motion and heart rate sensors on supported devices. Also included is Google Maps support, including turn-by-turn navigation on the wrist display.
Much like most previous smartwatch efforts, Android Wear devices are reliant on a connect smartphone, with apps on the Google Play store including “wearable” portions, which are automatically installed on compatible Android Wear devices.
On stage demos included the ordering of a Lyft car with a voice command, with the watch auto-detecting the user’s location, and ordering of the car was completed on the wrist device without the need to look at a smartphone screen.
Google also announced the release of a full Android Wear SDK, and the launch of the first devices that support the Android Wear platform – The LG G Watch, and the Samsung Gear Live -both available for order today. The first circular device supporting the platform, the Motorola Moto 360, will be available later this summer.
Google has managed to get a head-start on Apple, as the Cupertino firm’s “iWatch” isn’t expected to hit the market until this fall, with an expected focus on health and fitness tracking.