Google has unveiled a new version of its Android operating system called Android Wear, designed specifically for use in wearable devices, as the firm seeks to provide developers with tools to build apps for new hardware form factors.
Google said Android Wear would help take the use of mobile services beyond the smartphone and into new areas such as smartwatches, as explained by senior vice president for Android, Chrome and Apps Sundar Pichai.
"Most of us are rarely without our smartphones in hand. These powerful supercomputers keep us connected to the world and the people we love. But we're only at the beginning; we’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s possible with mobile technology. That’s why we’re so excited about wearables," he said.
Pichai detailed several capabilities of Wear designed to make it ideal for use on wearables. This includes the ability to use Wear to ask questions using the "OK Google" voice command, similar to that of its Google Glass tech, with the device then presenting an answer.
He also said that the ability for Wear devices to display key information would be of huge benefit. “The wide variety of Android applications means you’ll receive the latest posts and updates from your favourite social apps, chats from your preferred messaging apps, notifications from shopping, news and photography apps, and more,” Pichai wrote.
Finally the ability to control other devices such as a TV set or music system, and monitor health and fitness information were also touted.
Google has begun offering a preview of the system for developers so they can see how apps could work on wearables for functions such as presenting notification information.
"Because Android for wearables works with Android's rich notification system, many apps will already work well. Look out for more developer resources and APIs coming soon,” Pichai said.
Pichai added that the firm was working with a raft of partners in the market such as Asus, HTC, Motorola and Samsung and chip makers such as Intel and Broadcom on plans for smartwatches later this year.
“We’re also already working with several consumer electronics manufacturers, chip makers and fashion brands like the Fossil Group to bring you watches powered by Android Wear later this year,” he wrote.
Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal.