Google releases Android Wear developer preview; bring on the smartwatches

Early last week, we heard that Google was about to really step up its wearables game, and was planning to introduce a new SDK focused specifically on bringing Android to devices like smartwatches. Word was that we’d be seeing the SDK arrive in about two weeks, but today, just over a week later, we find ourselves caught a bit by surprise, as Google announces its Android Wear project, while making available the developer preview of that SDK.

Now keep in mind: this isn’t a Google smartwatch (at least, not yet). What we’re seeing in these videos should be treated more as generic mock-ups; this isn’t about new hardware today (Update: OK, so we do get new hardware today – just not from Google – and this watch looks a lot like Motorola’s new design), but providing developers the tools they’ll need in order to craft the software that will help Android make the transition to these itty-bitty watch-sized screens.

That means a whole new UI, and what Google shares with us is very much the Now-dominated, voice-control-heavy interface we’d been hoping for. Like the mock-ups we’ve been pawing over for the past year or so, Android Wear will support both the traditional square smartwatch face we’re familiar with, as well as round designs.

Developers can get started as of today preparing their apps to work with future Android smartwatches, and Google promises that new APIs and features will be revealed in the months to come, to further enhance what’s possible with Android-based wearables. With interest from companies including ASUS, HTC, LG, Motorola, and Samsung, not to mention SoC makers like Broadcom, Imagination, Intel, Mediatek, and Qualcomm, and straight-up watch companies like Fossil, Android Wear sounds like it has the muscle behind it to be pretty darn big.

The first Android Wear-supported hardware should be available later this year.

Source: Google (Android Dev)

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Stephen Schenck
Stephen has been writing about electronics since 2008, which only serves to frustrate him that he waited so long to combine his love of gadgets and his degree in writing. In his spare time, he collects console and arcade game hardware, is a motorcycle enthusiast, and enjoys trapping blue crabs. Stephen's first mobile device was a 624 MHz Dell Axim X30, which he's convinced is still a viable platform. Stephen longs for a market where phones are sold independently of service, and bandwidth is cheap and plentiful; he's not holding his breath. In the meantime, he devours smartphone news and tries to sort out the juicy bits Read more about Stephen Schenck!