Google’s latest brand extension is designed to get the internet giant’s Android operating system on your wrist. Android Wear, a stripped-down version of the platform popularized on Nexus tablets, smartphones, and – increasingly – car dashboards, is not a product unto itself, meaning Google is essentially offering software to companies interested in producing smart watches, smart rings, or, for that matter, smart cufflinks. The announcement of the platform spin-off was followed by announcements from Motorola, LG, and Fossil, all of whom plan to build Android watches.
You can tell Google is serious because the company is waving a fresh neologism: “Glanceable.” In an introduction to the product aimed at developers, Google engineers explained that the idea behind the new user interface was to create something instantly readable that would constantly update using textual information. Google maps will be on your wrist along with your Gmail, weather predictions, game scores, and traffic alerts. In essence, Android Wear will offer all the convenience of Google Now cards, which help organize the mobile web into constantly updating micro-apps, on the go. Though there was nothing in the announcement to indicate that Google itself has developed Android apps designed to gather or use information based on motion, there will inevitably be gyroscope-enabled personal data mining.
The first generation of Android Wear products will likely be practical. What will be more interesting to watch is how these products evolve as edgier fashion houses get involved and try entirely new product types. We’re one Cole Haan brainstorm away from having those speech-enabled shoes from Get Smart. [android.com]