Google announces the first smartwatches powered by Android

Google announces the first smartwatches powered by Android
Google Smart Watches
Google Smart Watches

Google has announced the first smartwatches powered by its Android Wear operating system that are now available for pre-order.

The LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live – both featuring rectangular screens – mark an attempt to standardise the way Android wearable devices function.

Google said that Motorola’s circular Moto 360 would not be released until “later this summer”.

Analysts say the move to a unified approach could drive sales.

Samsung’s Gear Live marks a return to Android – its Galaxy Gear 2 watch used Tizen

“The problem with smartwatches so far has been that the sector hasn’t quite decided what it wants to be – is it a phone on your wrist or an accessory device,” Steffen Sorrell, from the Juniper Research consultancy, told the BBC.

“Once you introduce Android Wear, it will hopefully provide a more focused case for what the devices are capable of. And that’s a direction that could invigorate the market.”

LG said the G Watch costs $229 (£145) and would initially be made available to 12 countries including the US, UK, France, Germany and Japan.

Samsung said the Gear Live would cost $200 (£118).

Both are due to ship on 7 July and will require the owner to have a phone running Android 4.3 or above.

Vibrating notifications: Google dedicated an early part of its I/O developer conference presentation in San Francisco to its new wearable OS.

Android Wear can be made to remind the owner of travel preparations

David Singleton, director of engineering in the firm’s Android division, said one of its core aims was to be able to “quickly show you relevant information, and make sure you never miss an important message, while letting you stay engaged with the people that you are actually with”.

The watch can be used to control what music a paired phone is playing

To achieve this, when notifications are received by the user’s smartphone they can be set to make the watch vibrate on the user’s wrist.

If the owner then dismisses the alert and carries out a follow-up action on the watch, such as scheduling an appointment, the details are “immediately synched across” so that the smartphone also hides the notification and adds the meeting to its diary.

Users can also reject calls to their phone via the watch and select a pre-set text message to explain why, and bring up map navigation.

Voice commands: Much of Android Wear’s user interface (UI) relies on the firm’s Google Now card-based system. It allows owners to swipe up and down to different types of information, and left and right to find out more about a specific topic.

However, Mr Singleton’s demonstrations at the event suggested that his firm expects consumers to carry out many of the watch controls by voice command.

Saying “OK Google” prepares the device to take an instruction – similar to the way its Glass eyewear functions.

BBC

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